August 16, 2015 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
This post is part of a blog series that compiles quotations from authors on subjects I am currently pondering. The premise is explained in this post. The first post in the series was quotations on family – I had just returned from my family reunion – and the second post on aging. As regular readers will know, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012. Each visit home is a new encounter with that shifting reality.
My mother has always been a great reader, and she passed that love on to me. It is difficult for her to read now, but not, I learned on my last visit, impossible. I’ve chosen this next topic in her honor.
There are at least 100 pages of quotations on reading from authors in Goodreads alone, so this compilation is in no way exhaustive, and I eliminated some rather good quotations simply because the author had appeared in a previous post. If you have one you love that you want to see represented, feel free to add it in the comments!
The world was hers for the reading.
― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ― C.S. Lewis
Think before you speak. Read before you think. ― Fran Lebowitz
What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though. ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
I spent my life folded between the pages of books. In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction. ― Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me
Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them. ― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish
“Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar.” ― Cornelia Funke, Inkspell
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive. ― James Baldwin
Today a reader, tomorrow a leader. ― Margaret Fuller
“You get a little moody sometimes but I think that’s because you like to read. People that like to read are always a little fucked up.” ― Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides
I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print, the way you crawl through a fence, and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree. ― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading: he did not know that thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life; he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world of every day a source of bitter disappointment. ― W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage
A library is a place where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity. ― Germaine Greer
Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head. ― Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies
Read! When your baby is finally down for the night, pick up a juicy book like Eat, Pray, Love or Pride and Prejudice or my personal favorite, Understanding Sleep Disorders: Narcolepsy and Apnea; A Clinical Study. Taking some time to read each night really taught me how to feign narcolepsy when my husband asked me what my “plan” was for taking down the Christmas tree. ― Tina Fey, Bossypants
A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. ― Franz Kafka
She did not care very much for other little girls, but if she had plenty of books she could console herself. ― Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess
People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading. ― Logan Pearsall Smith
“She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain” ― Louisa May Alcott, Work: A Story of Experience
A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say. ― Italo Calvino, The Uses of Literature
You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it. ― Adrienne Rich
What a blessing it is to love books as I love them;- to be able to converse with the dead, and to live amidst the unreal! ― Thomas Babington Macaulay
It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else. ― Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book. ― Stéphane Mallarmé
I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours. ― Dorothy Parker
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them.
― Arnold Lobel
Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness. ― Helen Keller, The Story of My Life
Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.
― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind
Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes–characters even–caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you. ― Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale
Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind. ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
She never managed to find herself in these books no matter how hard she tried, exhuming traits from between the pages and donning them for an hour, a day, a week. We think in some ways, we have all done this our whole lives, searching for the book that will give us the keys to ourselves, let us into a wholly formed personality as though it were a furnished room to let. As though we could walk in and look around and say to the gray-haired landlady behind us, “We’ll take it.” ― Eleanor Brown, The Weird Sisters
Books don’t offer real escape, but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw. ― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. ―Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings
People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned. ― Saul Bellow
I think it’s the books that you read when you’re young that live with you forever. ― J.K. Rowling
Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
― Albert Einstein
I grew up on a mixed diet of mass and class, and I still read that way. I hate it when people apologize for what they read. Some bestsellers aren’t exactly literary. So what? They’re fun and rip-roaring, Who instituted the book police and why do we have to answer them? Grrrrr! ― Jennifer Donnelly
Anyway—because we are readers, we don’t have to wait for some communications executive to decide what we should think about next—and how we should think about it. We can fill our heads with anything from aardvarks to zucchinis—at any time of night or day. ― Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage
You don’t read Gatsby, I said, to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.
― Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
A good book is an event in my life. ― Stendhal, The Red and the Black
When at last I came upon the right book, the feeling was violent: it blew open a hole in me that made life more dangerous because I couldn’t control what came through it. ― Nicole Krauss, Great House
I love the smell of book ink in the morning. ― Umberto Eco
Readers are plentiful; thinkers are rare. ― Harriet Martineau
There is creative reading as well as creative writing. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life. I wrote that way too. ― Mary Oliver, Wild Geese
Young men, especially in America, write to me and ask me to recommend “a course of reading.” Distrust a course of reading! People who really care for books read all of them. There is no other course. ― Andrew Lang, Adventures Among Books