Quotes of Note

“He read far too many books, that was Israel’s trouble.  Books had spoiled him; they had curdled his brain, like cream left out on a summer afternoon, or eggs overbeaten with butter.  He’d been a bookish child, right from the off, the youngest of four, the kind of child who seemed to start reading without anyone realizing or noticing, who enjoyed books without his parents’ insistence, who raced through non-fiction at an early age and an extraordinary rate, who read Jack Kerouac before he was in his teens, and who by age of sixteen had covered most of the great French and Russian authors, and who as a result had matured into an intelligent, shy, passionate, sensitive soul, full of dreams and ideas, a wide-ranging vocabulary, and just about no earthly good to anyone.” – Ian Sansom, The Mobile Library: The Case of the Missing Books (2005)

“She read, at peace with the world and happy as only a little girl could be with a fine book and a bowl of candy, and all alone in the house.” – Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)

“Long ago I fell back on books as the only permanent consolers. They are the one stainless and unimpeachable achievement of the human race. It saddens me to think that I shall have to die with thousands of books unread that would have given me noble and unblemished happiness. I will tell you a secret. I have never read King Lear, and have purposely refrained from doing so. If I were ever very ill I would only need to say to myself ‘You can’t die yet, you haven’t read Lear.’ That would bring me round, I know it would.” – Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop

“I’ve stopped reading fiction.  I don’t read it at all.  I read other things: history, biography.  I don’t have the same interest in fiction that I once did . . . I wised up.” – Philip Roth in an interview with the Financial Times on the occasion of his winning the Man Booker International prize

“[The chemical] Elements and birthdays have been intertwined for me since boyhood, when I learned about atomic numbers.  At 11, I could say, ‘I am sodium’ (element 11), and at 79, I was gold.” – Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks in an article titled “The Joy of Turning 80” in the February/March 2014 issue of AARP Magazine [Note: This might be the perfect way to learn the periodic table.  You can find out what you are here.  Click on any element to learn about it.  By the way, I am erbium.]

“As for the usefulness of poetry, its uses are many. It is the deification of reality. It should make our days holy to us. The poet should speak to all men, for a moment, of that other life of theirs that they have smothered and forgotten.” – English Poet Dame Edith Sitwell

”Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

“I like a thin book because it will steady a table, a leather volume because it will strop a razor, and a heavy book because it can be thrown at a cat.” – Mark Twain

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” – Neil Gaiman

“It’s hard enough to write a good drama, it’s much harder to write a good comedy, and it’s hardest of all to write a drama with comedy – which is what life is. – Jack Lemmon

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” – John Cheever

“Others closer to [Lorrie] Moore have also questioned whether or not they’ve made it into her work. ‘People get confused. People get paranoid,’ she says, telling the story of a man she once dated who became suspicious of a specific character. ‘First of all, the character is a woman,’ she remembers saying to him, ‘Second of all, darling, the character has a job.’” – Arianne Wack in a profile of author Lorrie Moore for The Millions


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