Quotations about   book

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Lest all overlook so tiny a book
And brevity lead to its loss,
I will not refuse such padding to use
As “Τὸν δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.”

[Edita ne brevibus pereat mihi cura libellis,
Dicatur potius Τὸν δ᾽ ἀπαμειβόμενος.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 45 (1.45) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “Poet’s Padding”]
    (Source)

Using a phrase ("to him in answer" or "answering him") that is repeated many, many times in Homer's epics, The Odyssey and The Iliad. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Lest, in air, the mere lightness my distics should toss;
I'd rather sing δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.216]

That the care which I have bestowed upon what I have published may not come to nothing through the smallness of my volumes, let me rather fill up my verses with Τὸν δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Lest his pains should be lost by publishing too short a book, he will fill it up with repetitions, like Homer's well-known verse.
[tr. Paley/Stone (1890)]

That my labor be not lost because published in tiny volumes, rather let there be added Τὸν δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

For fear my fount of poetry run dry
"Him answering" is still my cuckoo-cry.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 24]

Rather than have my work published in small volumes and so go to waste, let me say "to him in answer."
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Added on 1-Jul-22 | Last updated 1-Jul-22
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Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
(Attributed)
Added on 10-Mar-22 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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Me kindly Rome loves, quotes my books, and buys them;
But till that critic feigning to despise them
Blushed and turned pale, then yawned and looked confounded,
I never felt my fame was surely grounded.

[Laudat, amat, cantat nostros mea Roma libellos,
Meque sinus omnes, me manus omnis habet.
Ecce rubet quidam, pallet, stupet, oscitat, odit.
Hoc volo: nunc nobis carmina nostra placent.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, epigram 60 (6.60) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Rome hugs my verse, and cries up for rare,
My books each hand and ev'ry bosom bear;
There's one yet lowers, disdains, is ill at ease:
I'm glad; my verses now myself do please.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

The town beloves, applauds, attunes my strains;
Each hand engrasps them, and each bosom gains:
See one change color, grin, and gape with hate!
This crowns my wish: be this my Muse's fate.
[tr. Elphinston (1782)], Book 2, ep. 16]
Rome, city of my affections, praises, loves, and recites my compositions;
I am in every lap, and in every hand.
But see, yon gentleman grows red and pale by turns, looks amazed, yawns, and, in fact, hates me.
I am delighted at the sight; my writings now please me.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859), ep. 61]

Quite friendly, Rome applauds my lay;
dotes on it, quotes it day by day.
My verses every pocket fill,
And every hand bethumbs me still.
See, yonder man turns red and white,
Winces, and yawns disgusted quite.
This I enjoy; by this I tell
That now my verses please me well.
[tr. Webb (1879), ep. 61]

My Rome praises, loves, and hums my verses,
and every pocket, every hand holds me.
See, yonder fellow turns red, turns pale, is dazed, yawns, curses! v This is what I want; now my verses please me!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

For my small books Rome's gone utterly mad;
I'm quite ubiquitous -- call it a fad.
Look, there -- see that fellow, leafing, curious.
First he blushes deeply, then he's furious;
A moment later his eyes glaze over;
He yawns, flips a page, then reels in horror.
This mercurial response I thrill to see;
Why, then my epigrams even please me!
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

He reads my verses, just to be in fashion.
But finds himself whipsawed by sudden passion.
He frowns, then chortles -- chokes at what he reads --
And calls them the most infamous of screeds,
Then he goes pale, as under some indicting --
You've got him, poems! That's what I call writing.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Rome praises, loves, and sings my little verses;
They're in all hands, all pockets, and all purses.
Look there! One blushes, pales, gasps, yawns, and curses.
That's what I want! I'm happy with my verses.
[tr. Barth]

My Rome praises, loves and quotes my books,
which fill all pockets and all hands.
Readers blush, then pale, look dazed, curse, swear.
Yes! Yes! This is what I’d always planned.
[tr. Matthews]

Added on 31-Dec-21 | Last updated 5-Aug-22
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Some praise books for their girth, as if they were written to exercise our arms, not our wits.

[Estiman algunos los libros por la corpulencia, como si se escriviessen para exercitar antes los braços que los ingenios.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 27 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
    (Source)

Alternate translation: "Some reckon books by the thickness, as if they were written to try the brawn more than the brain." [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
Added on 6-Dec-21 | Last updated 4-Apr-22
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Good work you’ll find, some poor, and much that’s worse,
It takes all sorts to make a book of verse.

[Sunt bona, sunt quaedam mediocria, sunt mala plura
quae legis hic: aliter non fit, Avite, liber.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 16 (1.16) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Some things are good, indifferent some, some naught,
You read: a book can't otherwise be wrote.
[tr. Anon. (1695)]

Here's some good things, some middling, more bad, you will see:
Else a book, my Avitus, it never could be.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.6]

Some of my epigrams are good, some moderately so, more bad: there is no other way, Avitus, of making a book.
[tr. Amos (1858), 2.23 (cited as 1.17)]

Of the epigrams which you read here, some are good, some middling, many bad: a book, Avitus, cannot be made in any other way.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

There are good things, there are some indifferent, there are more things bad that you read here. Not otherwise, Avitus, is a book produced.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Some things are good, some fair, but more you'll say
Are bad herein -- all books are made that way!
[tr. Duff (1929)]

Some of my poems are good, some
not up to scratch, some
bad.
That’s how it is with most books,
if the truth were told.
Who tells the truth about truth, my dear?
Make way for the judge and the jester.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "How It Is"]

Some good things here, and some not worth a look.
For this is that anomaly, a book.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

You're reading good poems here, Avitus -- and a few that are so-so, and a lot that are bad; a book doesn't happen any other way.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Some good, some middling, and some bad
You’ll find here. They are what I had.
[tr. J. V. Cunningham]

Some good, some so-so, most of them naught!
Well, if not worse, the book may still be bought.
[Anon.]

Added on 1-Oct-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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There is a pleasure unknown to the landsman in reading at sea.

William McFee (1881-1966) English writer
“Something to Read,” Harper’s #829 (Jun 1919)
    (Source)
Added on 9-Jul-21 | Last updated 9-Jul-21
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More books have resulted from somebody’s need to write than from anybody’s need to read.

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American writer, epigramist, cartoonist
Pot-Shots, #3273
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Added on 23-Apr-21 | Last updated 23-Apr-21
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Someday I hope to write a book where the royalties will pay for the copies I give away.

Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) American lawyer
(Attributed)
Added on 5-Mar-21 | Last updated 5-Mar-21
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A novel which survives, which withstands and outlives time, does do something more than merely survive. It does not stand still. It accumulates round itself the understanding of all these persons who bring to it something of their own. It acquires associations, it becomes a form of experience in itself, so that two people who meet can often make friends, find an approach to each other, because of this one great common experience they have had.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) Irish author
“Truth and Fiction,” BBC Radio (Oct 1956)
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Added on 20-Jul-20 | Last updated 20-Jul-20
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What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.

J. D. Salinger (1919-2010) American writer [Jerome David Salinger]
The Catcher in the Rye, ch. 3 (1951)
Added on 29-Apr-20 | Last updated 29-Apr-20
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There are books one needs maturity to enjoy, just as there are books an adult can come on too late to savor.

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
“The Consolations of Illiteracy,” Saturday Review (1 Aug 1953)
    (Source)

Reprinted in The Province of the Heart (1959).
Added on 19-Feb-20 | Last updated 19-Feb-20
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“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 25, epigraph (1897)
    (Source)
Added on 7-Jun-18 | Last updated 7-Jun-18
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How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American philosopher and writer
Walden, ch. 1 “Reading” (1854)
    (Source)
Added on 6-Dec-17 | Last updated 6-Dec-17
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When you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life.

Christopher Morley (1890-1957) American journalist, novelist, essayist, poet
Parnassus on Wheels, ch. 4 (1917)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Jun-17 | Last updated 1-Jun-17
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I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a good book.

Groucho Marx (1890-1977) American comedian [b. Julius Henry Marx]
“King Leer,” Tele-Views (Sep 1950)

Commonly paraphrased: "I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on, I go into another room and read a good book." A number of uses of this line by Marx are found around the same time frame, with variant wordings. See here for more discussion.
Added on 7-Apr-17 | Last updated 7-Apr-17
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The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known.

Yoshida Kenkō (1284-1350) Japanese author and Buddhist monk [吉田 兼好]
Essays in Idleness [Tsurezuregusa] (c. 1330)
Added on 2-Feb-17 | Last updated 2-Feb-17
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Take a book, the poorest one written, but read it with the passion that it is the only book you will read — ultimately you will read everything out of it, that is, as much as there was in yourself, and you could never get more out of reading, even if you read the best of books.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
Stages on Life’s Way (1845)
Added on 25-Jan-17 | Last updated 25-Jan-17
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It is just those books which a man possesses, but does not read, which constitute the most suspicious evidence against him.

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French writer
Toilers of the Sea, Book 1, ch. 4 (1866)
Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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If you would understand your own age, read the works of fiction produced in it. People in disguise speak freely.

Arthur Helps (1813-1875) English writer and bureaucrat
Thoughts in the Cloister and the Cloud(1835)
    (Source)
Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 19-Nov-21
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This book fills a much-needed gap.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Moses Hadas (1900-1966), Professor, Columbia University (Attributed)
Added on 17-Nov-16 | Last updated 17-Nov-16
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While the spoken word can travel faster, you can’t take it home in your hand. Only the written word can be absorbed wholly at the convenience of the reader.

Kingman Brewster, Jr. (1919-1988) American educator, diplomat
“The Enduring American Press” symposium, Harvard (30 Oct 1964)
Added on 8-Nov-16 | Last updated 8-Nov-16
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A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

chesterton-good-novel-truth-bad-novel-truth-wist_info-quote

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
Heretics, ch. 15 “On Smart Novelists and the Smart Set” (1905)
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Added on 25-Oct-16 | Last updated 25-Oct-16
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We are as liable to be corrupted by our books as by our companions.

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) English novelist, dramatist, satirist
“A Fragment of a Comment on Lord Bolingbroke’s Essays” (1755)
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In a book, all would have gone according to plan. … but life was so fucking untidy — what could you say for an existence where some of your most crucial conversations of your life took place when you needed to take a shit, or something? An existence where there weren’t even any chapters?

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
Misery (1987)
Added on 24-Aug-16 | Last updated 24-Aug-16
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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends, and the most patient of teachers.

Charles William Eliot (1834-1926) American academic
“The Durable Satisfactions of Life,” speech, Harvard University (3 Oct 1905)
Added on 4-Aug-16 | Last updated 4-Aug-16
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There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing poetry.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) American poet
“There is no frigate like a book” (c. 1873)
Added on 7-Jul-16 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
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A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) Canadian author, editor, publisher
“Too Much, Too Fast” Peterborough Examiner (Canada) (16 Jun 1962)
Added on 2-Jun-16 | Last updated 2-Jun-16
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Wouldst thou find my ashes? Look
In the pages of my book;
And, as these thy hands doth turn,
Know here is my funeral urn.

Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914) American poet
“The Immortal Residue” (1915)
Added on 26-May-16 | Last updated 26-May-16
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The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian
(Attributed)

Quoted in James Wood (ed.), Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern, English and Foreign Sources (1893).
Added on 14-Apr-16 | Last updated 14-Apr-16
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The covers of this book are too far apart.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
(Attributed)

One-sentence book review. First attributed to Bierce in 1923, but showing up in anonymous humor as early as 1899. See here for more information.
Added on 31-Mar-16 | Last updated 31-Mar-16
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What havoc has been made of Books through every Century of the Christian Æra? Where are fifty Gospells condemned as spurious by the Bull of Pope Gelasius. Where are the forty Waggon Loads of Hebrew Manuscripts burned in France by order of another Pope, because suspected of Heresy? Remember the Index expurgatorius, the Inquisitions, the Stake, the Axe the halter and the Guillotine; and Oh! horrible the Rack. This is as bad if not worse than a slow fire.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to John Taylor (14 Dec 1814)
    (Source)
Added on 28-Jan-16 | Last updated 19-Oct-21
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I suppose every old scholar has had the experience of reading something in a book which was significant to him, but which he could never find again. Sure he is that he read it there, but no one else ever read it, nor can he find it again, though he buy the book and ransack every page.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (after 2 Jul 1867)
Added on 10-Dec-15 | Last updated 10-Dec-15
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Next to doing things that deserve to be written, there is nothing that gets a man more credit, or gives him more pleasure, than to write things that deserve to be read.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (1739)
Added on 19-Jan-15 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Preface (1876)
Added on 13-Jun-14 | Last updated 13-Jun-14
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I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? … We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.

[Ich glaube, man sollte überhaupt nur solche Bücher lesen, die einen beißen und stechen. Wenn das Buch, das wir lesen, uns nicht mit einem Faustschlag auf den Schädel weckt, wozu lesen wir dann das Buch? Damit es uns glücklich macht, wie Du schreibst? Mein Gott, glücklich wären wir eben auch, wenn wir keine Bücher hätten, und solche Bücher, die uns glücklich machen, könnten wir zur Not selber schreiben. Wir brauchen aber die Bücher, die auf uns wirken wie ein Unglück, das uns sehr schmerzt, wie der Tod eines, den wir lieber hatten als uns, wie wenn wir in Wälder verstoßen würden, von allen Menschen weg, wie ein Selbstmord, ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. Das glaube ich.]

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
Letter to Oskar Pollak (27 Jan 1904)
    (Source)

Alt. translations:
  • "If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? Good God, we also would be happy if we had no books and such books that make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. What we must have are those books that come on us like ill fortune, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us."
  • "What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us."
  • "A book should be an ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us."
  • "A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul."
  • "A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us."
Added on 12-Nov-13 | Last updated 19-Dec-19
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If books were sold as software and online recordings are, they would have this legalese up front:

The content of this book is distributed on an ‘as is’ basis, without warranty as to accuracy of content, quality of writing, punctuation, usefulness of the ideas presented, merchantability, correctness or readability of formulae, charts, and figures, or correspondence of (a) the table of contents with the actual contents, (2) page references in the index (if any) with the actual page numbering (if present), and (iii) any illustration with its adjacent caption. Illustrations may have been printed reversed or inverted, the publisher accepts no responsibility for orientation or chirality. Any resemblance of the author or his or her likeness or name to any person, living or dead, or their heirs or assigns, is coincidental; all references to people, places, or events have been or should have been fictionalized and may or may not have any factual basis, even if reported as factual. Similarities to existing works of art, literature, song, or television or movie scripts is pure happenstance. References have been chosen at random from our own catalog. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher shall have any liability whatever to any person, corporation, animal whether feral or domesticated, or other corporeal or incorporeal entity with respect to any loss, damage, misunderstanding, or death from choking with laughter or apoplexy at or due to, respectively, the contents; that is caused or is alleged to be caused by any party, whether directly or indirectly due to the information or lack of information that may or may not be found in this alleged work. No representation is made as to the correctness of the ISBN or date of publication as our typist isn’t good with numbers and errors of spelling and usage are attributable solely to bugs in the spelling and grammar checker in Microsoft Word. If sold without a cover, this book will be thinner than those sold with a cover. You do not own this book, but have acquired only a revocable non-exclusive license to read the material contained herein. You may not read it aloud to any third party. This disclaimer is a copyrighted work of Jef Raskin, first published in 2004, and is distributed ‘as is’, without warranty as to quality of humor, incisiveness of commentary, sharpness of taunt, or aptness of jibe.

Jef Raskin
Jef Raskin (1943-2005) American computer scientist, writer
“If Books Were Sold as Software,” NewsScan.com (18 Aug 2004)
    (Source)
Added on 24-Feb-07 | Last updated 18-Apr-22
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