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The Quotable Book Lover

Monday, September 15, 2008

Several years ago, I picked up a little book off the bargain table at B&N entitled The Quotable Book Lover (ed. Ben Jacobs & Helena Hjalmarsson). I pick it up occasionally when I need a really good quote about a certain aspect of fiction or reading or writing. So, since I’m off visiting dear crit partner Erica right now, I thought I’d share some insights on reading/writing from some authors who are better known than me:

“A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.”
~Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands (1992)

“An author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.”
~Benjamin Disraeli (1873)

“My books are water; those of great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water.”
~Mark Twain, Notebook (1885)

“Writers aren’t exactly people . . . they’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.”
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
~George Orwell, “Why I Write” (1968)

“I never think at all when I write. Nobody can do two things at the same time and do them both well.”
~Don Marquis

“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it life: a live thing, a story.”
~Ursula K. Le Guin, Dancing at the Edge of the World (1989)

“Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.”
~Helen Keller, The Story of My Life (1902)

“Wordstruck is exactly what I was—and still am: crazy about the sound of words, the look of words, the taste of words, the feeling for words on the tongue and in the mind.”
~Robert MacNeil, Wordstruck (1989)

“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book.”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

“[Publishers] cannot, or at least should not try to argue with authors. Too many are like children whose tears can suddenly be changed to smiles if they are handled in the right way.”
~Michael Joseph, The Adventure of Publishing (1949)

“Definition of a classic: A book everyone is assumed to have read and often thinks they have.”
~Alan Bennett

3 Comments
  1. Monday, September 15, 2008 8:52 am

    My personal favorite of those:
    “My books are water; those of great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water.”
    ~Mark Twain, Notebook (1885)

    That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  2. Monday, September 15, 2008 11:45 am

    I have a quote book – 400 pages of nothing but quotes. I love it. Probably one of my favorite quotes is:

    “Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.” ~ George S. Patton

    I have a lot of favorites by Patton, but that’s by far my favorite.

    And I grew up seeing this one on my dad’s desk (remember he was inthe Army) every day: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
    Thomas Paine

    Like

  3. Monday, September 22, 2008 11:54 am

    “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
    Thomas Paine

    Ha! That is totally me. ;o)

    I really liked:
    “A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.”
    ~Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands (1992)

    This could be 75% of the reason I write: not that I dislike so much of what I read, but because I can’t just sit-and-listen in any environment.

    Like

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