Quotes of Note

“About once a year some bright journalist asks each of our leading men and women for a few lines on the topic ‘If I were forced to live on a desert island with permission to take only one book, what would that book be?’  If they were truthful they would all select some manual in varnished picture-boards called Practical Boat-Building for Amateurs.” – Gilbert Norwood, “Too many books” (1926)

“Books say: she did this because.  Life says: she did this.  Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren’t.  I’m not surprised some people prefer books.  Books make sense of life.  The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people’s lives, never your own. – Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot (1984)

“Never think of marriage and if the thought should occur, take down a book and begin reading until it vanishes.” – Isaac Gossett

“In a very real sense, then, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read.  To have read Gulliver’s Travels is to have had the experience, with Jonathan Swift, of turning sick at one’s stomach at the conduct of the human race; to read Huckleberry Finn is to feel what it is like to drift down the Mississippi River on a raft; to have read Byron is to have suffered with him his rebellions and neuroses and to have enjoyed with him his nose-thumbing at society; to have read Native Son is to know how it feels to be frustrated in the particular way in which many Negroes in Chicago are frustrated.  This is the greatest task that affective communication performs: it enables us to feel how others felt about life, even if they lived thousands of miles away and centuries ago.  It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.” – S. I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action (1952)

“Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress.  When I get tired of one, I spend the night with the other.” – Anton Chekhov

“The artist in his work must be like God in his creation – invisible and all powerful: he must be everywhere felt, but never seen.” – Gustave Flaubert

“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.  That is my belief.” – Franz Kafka

“There are many people – happy people it usually appears – whose thoughts at Christmas always turn to books.  The thought of a Christmas tree with no books under it is repugnant and unnatural to them.” – Robertson Davies, The Merry Heart (1997)

“Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.”– Lenore Hershey

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked me for my autograph.” – Shirley Temple

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