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Quotations about Books & Reading

A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend.
~Author Unknown
A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy.
~Edward P. Morgan
The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.
~James Bryce
Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
~Author Unknown
A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.
~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958
There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read.
~G.K. Chesterton
Many people, other than the authors, contribute to the making of a book, from the first person who had the bright idea of alphabetic writing through the inventor of movable type to the lumberjacks who felled the trees that were pulped for its printing. It is not customary to acknowledge the trees themselves, though their commitment is total.
~Forsyth and Rada, Machine Learning
If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.
~Toni Morrison
A good book has no ending.
~R.D. Cumming
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.
~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," New York Times, 7 August 1991
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.
~Charles W. Eliot
Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
~P.J. O'Rourke
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.
~Attributed to Groucho Marx
I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.
~Groucho Marx
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
~Mark Twain, attributed
A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us,that we know the topography of its blots, and dog's ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins.
~Charles Lamb, Last Essays of Elia, 1833
Let books be your dining table,
And you shall be full of delights
Let them be your mattress
And you shall sleep restful nights.

~Author Unknown
I know every book of mine by its smell, and I have but to put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things.
~George Robert Gissing
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.
~Chinese Proverb
There's nothing to match curling up with a good book when there's a repair job to be done around the house.
~Joe Ryan
Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own.
~William Hazlitt
My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter.
~Thomas Helm
A dirty book is rarely dusty.
~Author Unknown
As a rule reading fiction is as hard to me as trying to hit a target by hurling feathers at it. I need resistance to celebrate!
~William James
You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
~Paul Sweeney
It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.
~Oscar Wilde
A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.
~Franz Kafka
Lord! when you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.
~Christopher Morley
Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all.
~Abraham Lincoln
The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television.
~Andrew Ross
I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage.
~Charles de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu, Pensées Diverses
To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare.
~Kenko Yoshida
Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.
~Jessamyn West
I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.
~E.M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, 1951
TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book.
~Author Unknown
People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.
~Logan Pearsall Smith, Trivia, 1917
Books had instant replay long before televised sports.
~Bern Williams
How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden
To choose a good book, look in an inquisitor’s prohibited list.
~John Aikin
In reading, a lonely quiet concert is given to our minds; all our mental faculties will be present in this symphonic exaltation.
~Stéphane Mallarmé
Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.
~James Russell Lowell
Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled "This could change your life."
~Helen Exley
There is a wonder in reading Braille that the sighted will never know: to touch words and have them touch you back.
~Jim Fiebig
This will never be a civilized country until we expend more money for books than we do for chewing gum.
~Elbert Hubbard
Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
~Mark Twain
A book is to me like a hat or coat - a very uncomfortable thing until the newness has been worn off.
~Charles B. Fairbanks
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
Books are the glass of council to dress ourselves by.
~Bulstrode Whitlock
Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.
~Henry Ward Beecher
Reading means borrowing.
~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms
Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life.
~Jesse Lee Bennett
Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
~Harper Lee
The scholar only knows how dear these silent, yet eloquent, companions of pure thoughts and innocent hours become in the season of adversity. When all that is worldly turns to dross around us, these only retain their steady value.
~Washington Irving
When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.
~Clifton Fadiman
For friends... do but look upon good Books: they are true friends, that will neither flatter nor dissemble.
~Francis Bacon
A book that is shut is but a block.
~Thomas Fuller
In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time: the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream.
~Thomas Carlyle
There are books so alive that you're always afraid that while you weren't reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river; while you went on living, it went on living too, and like a river moved on and moved away. No one has stepped twice into the same river. But did anyone ever step twice into the same book?
~Marina Tsvetaeva
The stories of childhood leave an indelible impression, and their author always has a niche in the temple of memory from which the image is never cast out to be thrown on the rubbish heap of things that are outgrown and outlived.
~Howard Pyle
No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Medicine for the soul.
~Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes
Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time.
~E.P. Whipple
These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice... and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.
~Gilbert Highet
"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread.
~François Mauriac
Books are embalmed minds.
Children don't read to find their identity, to free themselves from guilt, to quench the thirst for rebellion or to get rid of alienation. They have no use for psychology.... They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff.... When a book is boring, they yawn openly. They don't expect their writer to redeem humanity, but leave to adults such childish illusions.
~Isaac Bashevis Singer
I divide all readers into two classes; those who read to remember and those who read to forget.
~William Lyon Phelps
The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs.
~Henry Ward Beecher
Nothing is worth reading that does not require an alert mind.
~Charles Dudley Warner
If you have never said "Excuse me" to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting too much valuable reading time.
~Sherri Chasin Calvo
The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters.
~Ross MacDonald
The oldest books are still only just out to those who have not read them.
~Samuel Butler
I have friends whose society is delightful to me; they are persons of all countries and of all ages; distinguished in war, in council, and in letters; easy to live with, always at my command.
~Francesco Petrarch
Good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one.
~Augustine Birrell, Obiter Dicta, "Book Buying"
To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.
~Edmund Burke
The art of reading is in great part that of acquiring a better understanding of life from one's encounter with it in a book.
~André Maurois
A house without books is like a room without windows.
~Heinrich Mann
From my point of view, a book is a literary prescription put up for the benefit of someone who needs it.
~S.M. Crothers
He fed his spirit with the bread of books.
~Edwin Markham
Bread of flour is good; but there is bread, sweet as honey, if we would eat it, in a good book.
~John Ruskin
Most books, like their authors, are born to die; of only a few books can it be said that death hath no dominion over them; they live, and their influence lives forever.
~J. Swartz
A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counsellor, a multitude of counsellors.
~Henry Ward Beecher
Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes.
~John LeCarre
Never judge a book by its movie.
~J.W. Eagan
I love to lose myself in other men's minds.... Books think for me.
~Charles Lamb
Far more seemly were it for thee to have thy study full of books, than thy purse full of money.
~John Lyly
The wise man reads both books and life itself.
~Lin Yutang
I like intellectual reading. It's to my mind what fiber is to my body.
~Grey Livingston
I often derive a peculiar satisfaction in conversing with the ancient and modern dead, - who yet live and speak excellently in their works. My neighbors think me often alone, - and yet at such times I am in company with more than five hundred mutes - each of whom, at my pleasure, communicates his ideas to me by dumb signs - quite as intelligently as any person living can do by uttering of words.
~Laurence Sterne
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be -
I had a mother who read to me.

~Strickland Gillilan (Thanks, Laurel)
He who lends a book is an idiot. He who returns the book is more of an idiot.
~Arabic Proverb
The mere brute pleasure of reading - the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing.
~Lord Chesterfield
An ordinary man can... surround himself with two thousand books... and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy.
~Augustine Birrell
Books - the best antidote against the marsh-gas of boredom and vacuity.
~George Steiner
We are too civil to books. For a few golden sentences we will turn over and actually read a volume of four or five hundred pages.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
From every book invisible threads reach out to other books; and as the mind comes to use and control those threads the whole panorama of the world's life, past and present, becomes constantly more varied and interesting, while at the same time the mind's own powers of reflection and judgment are exercised and strengthened.
~Helen E. Haines
To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.
~W. Somerset Maugham
How vast an estate it is that we came into as the intellectual heirs of all the watchers and searchers and thinkers and singers of the generations that are dead! What a heritage of stored wealth! What perishing poverty of mind we should be left in without it!
~J.N. Larned
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed with profit.
~Amos Bronson Alcott
The multitude of books is making us ignorant.
There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book; books are well written or badly written.
~Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~Richard Steele, Tatler, 1710
The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Books have to be read (worse luck it takes so long a time). It is the only way of discovering what they contain. A few savage tribes eat them, but reading is the only method of assimilation revealed to the West.
~E.M. Forster
Except a living man there is nothing more wonderful than a book! A message to us from the dead, - from human souls whom we never saw, who lived perhaps thousands of miles away; and yet these, on those little sheets of paper, speak to us, teach us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as brothers.
~Charles Kingsley
Let your bookcases and your shelves be your gardens and your pleasure-grounds. Pluck the fruit that grows therein, gather the roses, the spices, and the myrrh.
~Judah Ibn Tibbon
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
~Francis Bacon
Books are a refuge, a sort of cloistral refuge, from the vulgarities of the actual world.
~Walter Pater
No person who can read is ever successful at cleaning out an attic.
~Ann Landers
That place that does contain
My books, the best companions, is to me
A glorious court, where hourly I converse
With the old sages and philosophers;
And sometimes, for variety, I confer
With kings and emperors, and weigh their counsels;
Calling their victories, if unjustly got,
Unto a strict account, and, in my fancy,
Deface their ill-placed statues.

~Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher
A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint.... What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.
~Henry David Thoreau
To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one.
~Chinese Saying
O for a Booke and a shdie nooke, eyther in-a-doore or out;
With the grene leaves whisp'ring overhede, or the Streete cryes all about.
Where I maie Reade all at my ease, both of the Newe and Olde;
For a jollie goode Booke whereon to looke is better to me than Golde.

~John Wilson
Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me.
~Anatole France
A man may as well expect to grow stronger by always eating as wiser by always reading.
~Jeremy Collier
Books are immortal sons deifying their sires.
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.
~Mary Wortley Montagu
I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it.
~Woodrow Wilson
Books, not which afford us a cowering enjoyment, but in which each thought is of unusual daring; such as an idle man cannot read, and a timid one would not be entertained by, which even make us dangerous to existing institution - such call I good books.
~Henry David Thoreau
It often requires more courage to read some books than it does to fight a battle.
~Sutton Elbert Griggs
Many persons read and like fiction. It does not tax the intelligence and the intelligence of most of us can so ill afford taxation that we rightly welcome any reading matter which avoids this.
~Rose Macaulay
Americans like fat books and thin women.
~Russell Baker
What holy cities are to nomadic tribes - a symbol of race and a bond of union - great books are to the wandering souls of men: they are the Meccas of the mind.
~G.E. Woodberry
God be thanked for books! they are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages.
~W.E. Channing
A good book is always on tap; it may be decanted and drunk a hundred times, and it is still there for further imbibement.
~Holbrook Jackson
A blessed companion is a book, - a book that, fitly chosen, is a lifelong friend,... a book that, at a touch, pours its heart into our own.
~Douglas Jerrold
Reading - the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay.
~William Styron
A large, still book is a piece of quietness, succulent and nourishing in a noisy world, which I approach and imbibe with "a sort of greedy enjoyment," as Marcel Proust said of those rooms of his old home whose air was "saturated with the bouquet of silence."
~Holbrook Jackson
'Tis the good reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakenly meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profoundest thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude, 1870
We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.
~Henry Miller
Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.
~Harold Bloom
The book of the moment often has immense vogue, while the book of the age, which comes in its company from the press, lies unnoticed; but the great book has its revenge. It lives to see its contemporary pushed up shelf by shelf until it finds its final resting-place in the garret or the auction room.
~Hamilton Wright Mabie
The time to read is any time: no apparatus, no appointment of time and place, is necessary. It is the only art which can be practised at any hour of the day or night, whenever the time and inclination comes, that is your time for reading; in joy or sorrow, health or illness.
~Holbrook Jackson
I knew a gentleman who was so good a manager of his time that he would not even lose that small portion of it which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets in those moments.
~Lord Chesterfield
This nice and subtle happiness of reading, this joy not chilled by age, this polite and unpunished vice, this selfish, serene life-long intoxication.
~Logan Pearsall Smith
Books are delightful society. If you go into a room and find it full of books - even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome.
~William Ewart Gladstone
Books support us in our solitude and keep us from being a burden to ourselves.
~Jeremy Collier