Quotes of Note

“. . . I don’t think of them as bad guys. I just think of them as, for the most part, normal people who get up in the morning and they wonder what they’re going to have for breakfast, and they sneeze, and they wonder if they should call their mother, and then they rob a bank.  Because that’s the way they are . . . ” – Elmore Leonard (born in New Orleans in 1925) speaking of the villains in his books

Every day that we allow ourselves to take things for granted, every day that we allow some little physical infirmity or worldly worry to come between us and our obstinate, indignant, defiant exultation, we are weakening our genius for life.  –   John Cowper Powys, British novelist, essayist, poet, philosopher, and orator

“The book of my enemy has been remaindered and I am pleased.”  – Clive James, Australian author, poet and memoirist

“If a man wants to read good books, he must make a point of avoiding bad ones; for life is short, and time and energy limited.” – Arthur Schopenhauer in Some Forms of Literature

“No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says; he is always convinced that it says what he means.” – George Bernard Shaw

“It might be a good idea if the various countries of the world would occasionally swap history books, just to see what other people are doing with the same set of facts.” – Bill Vaughan

“Attention spans are changing. It’s very noticeable. I am very aware that the kind of books I read in my childhood kids now won’t be able to read. I was reading Kipling and P.G. Wodehouse and Shakespeare at the age of 11. The kind of description and detail I read I would not put in my books. I don’t know how much you can fight that because you want children to read. So I pack in excitement and plot and illustrations and have a cliffhanger every chapter. Charles Dickens was doing cliffhangers way back when. But even with all the excitement you have to make children care about the characters.” – Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train Your Dragon series

“Any suggestion that my father’s association with books was governed by a developing strategy would be a wicked deceit.  Apart from my mother and his music, they were the light of his life.  They were his meat and drink.  They were his bulwark against the world.  They became – it is impossible to deny – an overpowering disease.

He bought them, read them, marked them, reread them, stored them, reallocated them on the shelves, which spread like erysipelas [an acute streptococcus bacterial infection] up every available wall, knew where each precious volume of the countless thousands nestled without the aid of a catalogue.  His appetite was gargantuan and insatiable.  He was a bibliophilial drunkard – with the difference that the taste never palled and he never had a hangover.  The only stab of remorse he ever experienced was the rare recollection of how, at one of Hodgson’s sales or in one of the second-hand shops where he spent another of his lifetimes, a temptation has been cravenly resisted.  He would tell me over lunch how he had been at the bookshop prompt at nine o’clock that morning to repair some cowardly error of the day before.  The treasure was still there on the shelf.  Who could want further proof of the intervention of Providence?

Since the house in Cornwall had still to be run as a place of human habitation my mother often found the pressure intolerable.  So my father became furtive.  He would get up early to waylay the postman or set off for London on a Monday morning with several empty suitcases.  When he went on a lecture tour to America he returned with eleven cratefuls.  When each member of the family was old enough to leave home, the parting could be borne.  Valuable wall space was released.  Wordsworth or Napoleon or Montaigne or Dr. Johnson could at last have a room of his own, like John Milton.” – Michael Foot, in “Isaac Foot: A Rupert for the Roundheads” (1980)

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