Quotes of Note

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” – Maya Angelou speaking at the 2013 National Book Awards

“Oscar Wilde sensibly moved from writing verse, his first love, to hugely popular stage comedy.  He followed the money. ‘Why should I write for posterity?’ he is said to have quipped.  ‘What has posterity ever done for me?’ ” – John Sutherland in A Little History of Literature (2013)

“Books were my pass to personal freedom.  I learned to read at age three, and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went far beyond our farm in Mississippi.” – Oprah Winfrey

“People who write fiction, if they had not taken it up, might have become very successful liars.” – Ernest Hemingway

NATHANIEL: Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred in a book; He hath not eat paper, as it were; he hath not drunk ink; his intellect is not replenished; he is only an animal, only sensible in the duller parts.” – William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

“If you resist reading what you disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe?  The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our convictions.” – Author Unknown

“When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” – Raymond Chandler

“Sometimes an idea comes at night, when I have to get up and strike a light to note it down–sometimes when out on a lovely winter walk, when I have had to stop, and with half-frozen fingers jot down a few words which should keep the new-born idea from perishing–but whenever or however it comes, it comes of itself.” – Lewis Carroll

“We fought, Wilkie Collins and I.  We fought bitterly and with all our might, to a standstill, over a period of about three weeks, on trains and aeroplanes and by hotel swimming pools.  Sometimes – late at night, in bed – he could put me out cold with a single paragraph; every time I got through twenty or thirty pages, it felt to me as though I’d socked him good, but it took a lot out of me, and I had to retire to my corner to wipe the blood and sweat off my reading glasses.  And still he kept coming back for more.  Only in the last fifty-odd pages, after I’d landed several of those blows, did old Wilkie show any sign of buckling under the assault.  He was pretty tough for a man of one hundred and eighty.  Hats off to him.” – Nick Hornsby, The Complete Polysyllabic Spree (2006)

“Socrates called himself a midwife of ideas.  A great book is often such a midwife, delivering to full existence what has been coiled like an embryo in the dark, silent depths of the brain.” – Clifton Fadiman

“There is a certain kind of child who awakens from a book as from an abyssal sleep, swimming heavily up through layers of consciousness toward a reality that seems less real than the dream-state that has been left behind.  I was such a child.” – Anne Fadiman from Ex Libris (1998) (She is the daughter of Clifton Fadiman.)

“The best thing about writing is that you don’t have to go anywhere to do it.  I don’t travel to promote my books, I don’t give lectures, I just live quietly and write my kitty-cat stories.” – Lilian Jackson Braun (author of the mystery series The Cat Who . . .)

“I’m not going to write about sex because my mother is still alive, and my wife says I don’t know anything about it.” – John Grisham (answering a question from Bryant Gumbel on Today about how The Firm and The Pelican Brief could have sold 46 million copies without including sex scenes)

“If in one hundred years I am only known as the man who invented Sherlock Holmes, then I will have considered my life a failure.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (He died in 1930 and will forever be remembered principally as the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories.)

“There are some knightly souls who even go so far as to make their visits to bookstores a kind of chivalrous errantry at large.  They go in not because they need any certain volume, but because they feel that there may be some book that needs them.” – Christopher Morley, On Visiting Bookshops (1925)

“I write about real people in disguise.  If anything, my characters are toned down–the truth is much more bizarre.” – Jackie Collins

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” – P.J. O’Rourke

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