Quotations about:
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Most agree that books worth reading are worth reading more than once.

Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948) English journalist, editor, author
The Anatomy of Bibliomania, Vol. 1, Part 11, ch. 7 “Readers Who Never Weary” (1930)
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Often misquoted as "... are worth re-reading."
 
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Reading is a joy, but not an unalloyed joy. Books do not make life easier or more simple, but harder and more interesting.

Harry Golden
Harry Golden (1902-1981) Austrian-American writer and newspaper publisher [b. Herschel Goldhirsch]
So What Else is New?, “How to read a book, and why” (1964)
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If a book read when young is a lover, that same book, reread later on, is a friend. […] This may sound like a demotion, but after all, it is old friends, not lovers, to whom you are most likely to turn when you need comfort. Fatigue, grief, and illness call for familiarity, not innovation.

Anne Fadiman
Anne Fadiman (b. 1953) American essayist, journalist, literary critic, teacher
Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love, Foreword (2005)
 
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“What think you of books?” said he, smiling.
“Books — oh! no. I am sure we never read the same, or not with the same feelings.”
“I am sorry you think so; but if that be the case, there can at least be no want of subject. We may compare our different opinions.”

Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1775-1817) English novelist
Pride and Prejudice, ch. 18 [Darcy and Elizabeth] (1813)
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Books are like imprisoned souls until someone takes them down from a shelf and frees them.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 7 “On the Making of Music, Pictures and Books,” “Thought and Word,” sec. 9 (1912)
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There is really no way of considering a book independently of one’s special sensations in reading it on a particular occasion. In this as in everything else one must allow a certain relativity. In a sense, one can never read the book that the author originally wrote, and one can never read the same book twice.

Edmund Wilson
Edmund Wilson, Jr. (1895-1972) American writer, literary critic, journalist
The Triple Thinkers, Foreword (1948 ed.)
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A good heavy book holds you down. It’s an anchor that keeps you from getting up and having another gin and tonic. Many a person has been saved from summer alcoholism, not to mention hypertoxicity, by Dostoyevsky.

Roy Blount Jr
Roy Blount, Jr. (b. 1941) American writer, speaker, journalist, humorist
“Reading and Nothingness: Of Proust in the Summer Sun,” New York Times (1985-06-02)
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A book is a garden; a book is an orchard; a book is a storehouse; a book is a party. It is company by the way; it is a counselor; it is a multitude of counselors.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Proverbs From Plymouth Pulpit, “The Press” (1887) [ed. Drysdale]
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Worthy books
Are not companions — they are solitudes:
We lose ourselves in them and all our cares.

Phillip James Bailey
Philip James Bailey (1816-1902) English poet, lawyer
Festus, Sc. “A Village Feast – Evening” [Student] (1839)
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What had men thought? What had men believed? How did they come by those thoughts and beliefs? How had men learned to govern themselves? Were the processes the same everywhere?

Did man build cities because of an inner drive, like that of a beaver to build dams? How much of what we do is free will, and how much is programmed in our genes? Why is each people so narrow that it believes that it, and it alone, has all the answers? In religion, is there but one road to salvation? Or are there many, all equally good, all going in the same general direction?

I have read my books by many lights, hoarding their beauty, their wit or wisdom against the dark days when I would have no book, nor a place to read.

I have known hunger of the belly kind many times over, but I have known a worse hunger: the need to know and to learn.

Louis L'Amour (1908-1988) American writer
Education of a Wandering Man: A Memoir, ch. 11 (1989)
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Reading those turgid philosophers here in these remote stone buildings may not get you a job, but if those books have forced you to ask yourself questions about what makes life truthful, purposeful, meaningful, and redeeming, you have the Swiss Army Knife of mental tools, and it’s going to come in handy all the time.

Bill Watterson (b. 1958) American cartoonist
Commencement Address, Kenyon College (1990-05-20)
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The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel must be intolerably stupid.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1775-1817) English novelist
Northanger Abbey, ch. 14 [Henry Tiney] (1817)
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Why do people read? The answer, as regards the great majority, is: “They don’t.”

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“Flight from Reality,” New York American (1932-03-02)
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Gustave Dore – Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 5 “The Souls of Paolo and Francesca” (1857)
Gustave Dore – Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 5 “The Souls of Paolo and Francesca” (1857)

One day together, for pastime, we read
Of Lancelot, and how Love held him in thrall.
We were alone, and without any dread.
Sometimes our eyes, at the word’s secret call,
Met, and our cheeks a changing color wore.
But it was one page only that did all.
When we read how that smile, so thirsted for,
Was kissed by such a lover, he that may
Never from me be separated more
All trembling kissed my mouth. The book I say
Was a Galahalt to us, and he beside
that wrote that book. We read no more that day.

[Noi leggiavamo un giorno per diletto
di Lancialotto come amor lo strinse;
soli eravamo e sanza alcun sospetto.
Per più fïate li occhi ci sospinse
quella lettura, e scolorocci il viso;
ma solo un punto fu quel che ci vinse.
Quando leggemmo il disïato riso
esser basciato da cotanto amante,
questi, che mai da me non fia diviso,
la bocca mi basciò tutto tremante.
Galeotto fu ‘l libro e chi lo scrisse:
quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 5, l. 127ff (5.127-138) [Francesca] (1309) [tr. Binyon (1943)]
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In the Old French romance of Lancelot du Lac they were reading, Sir Gallehault (spelled variously) serves as go-between for Lancelot and Guinevere (a couple not able to express their love because of her marriage to King Arthur), and ultimately persuades the Queen to give Lancelot a first, dooming kiss. Similarly, Paolo was the intermediary to arrange the marriage of his brother, Gianciotto, and Francesca. After the marriage, reading together that racy tale of Lancelot seduced Paolo and Francesca into pursuing their carnal affair.

The Italian form of Gallehault -- "Galeotto" or "Galleot" -- became Middle Ages Italian slang for a panderer or pimp, and Francesca draws on this meaning in her chat with the Pilgrim, blaming the book and its writer for her damning sins with Paolo. See also, earlier, here.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

Together we, for pleasure, one day read
How strictly Lancelot was bound by love;
We, then alone, without suspicion were:
T'admire each other, often from the book
Our eyes were ta'en, and oft our colour chang'd;
That was the point of time which conqurer'd us,
When, reading that her captivating smile
Was by the Lover the adored kiss'd;
This, my Companion, always with me seen,
Fearful, and trembling, also kiss'd my mouth.
The Writer, Galeotto, nam;d the Book.
But from that day we never read in't more.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 113ff]

One day (a day I ever must deplore!)
The gentle youth, to spend a vacant hour,
To me the soft seducing story read,
Of Launcelot and fair Geneura's love,
While fascinating all the quiet grove
Fallacious Peace her snares around us spread.
Too much I found th' insidious volume charm,
And Paulo's mantling blushes rising warm;
Still as he read the guilty secret told:
Soon from the line his eyes began to stray;
Soon did my yielding looks my heart betray,
Nor needed words our wishes to unfold.
Eager to realize the story'd bless,
Trembling he snatch'd the half resented kiss,
To ill soon lesson'd by the pandar-page!
Vile pandar-page! it smooth'd the paths of shame.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 24-26]

One day
For our delight we read of Lancelot,
How him love thrall’d. Alone we were, and no
Suspicion near us. Ofttimes by that reading
Our eyes were drawn together, and the hue
Fled from our alter’d cheek. But at one point
Alone we fell. When of that smile we read,
The wished smile, rapturously kiss’d
By one so deep in love, then he, who ne’er
From me shall separate, at once my lips
All trembling kiss’d. The book and writer both
Were love’s purveyors. In its leaves that day
We read no more.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

'Twas on a day when we for pastime read
Of Lancelot, whom love ensnared to ruin:
We were alone, nor knew suspicious dread.
That lesson oft, the conscious look renewing,
Held us suspense, and turned our cheeks to white;
But one sole moment wrought for our undoing:
When of the kiss we read, from smile so bright.
So coveted, that such true-lover bore.
He, from my side who ne'er may disunite,
Kissed me upon the mouth, trembling all o'er.
The broker of our Vows, it was the lay,
And he who wrote -- that day we read no more.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

One day, for pastime, wwe read of Lancelot, how love restrained him; we were alone, and without all suspicion.
Several times that reading urged our eyes to meet, and changed the color of our faces; but one moment alone it was that overcame us.
When we read how the fond smile was kissed by such a lover, he, who shall never be divided from me,
kissed my mouth all trembling: the book, and he who wrote it, was a Galeotto; that day we read in it no farther.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

We were reading one day, for our delight,
In Lancilotto, bound in love so strict.
We were alone, and neither could suspect
Suspended were our eyes, and more than once,
In reading, and the visage colorless;
One point it was lone that conquered us.
When we read first of that -- the longed-for smile
At being kissed by one who loved so well;
Galeotti was the book -- he wrote it:
That Day we read not there any farther.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

One day we read, to pass a pleasant time,
How Lancelot was bound in chains of love;
Alone we were and no suspicion knew.
often we sigh'd; and as we read our eyes
Each other sought, the color fled our cheeks;
But we were vanquish'd by one point alone.
When we had read how the smile long desir'd
Was kiss'd by him who lov'd with such deep love,
This one, from me no more to be apart,
Trembling all over, kiss'd me on the mouth.
Galeotto was the writer and the book;
In it we read no further on that day.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

One day we reading were for our delight
⁠Of Launcelot, how Love did him enthrall.
⁠Alone we were and without any fear.
Full many a time our eyes together drew
⁠That reading, and drove the color from our faces;
⁠But one point only was it that o'ercame us.
Whenas we read of the much longed-for smile
⁠Being by such a noble lover kissed,
⁠This one, who ne'er from me shall be divided,
Kissed me upon the mouth all palpitating.
⁠Galeotto was the book and he who wrote it.
⁠That day no farther did we read therein.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

We were reading one day, for delight, of Lancelot, how Love constrained him; alone were we, and without any suspicion. Many times did that reading impel our eyes, and change the hue of our visages; but one point only was it that overcame us. When we read that the wished-for smile was kissed by such a lover, this one who never from me shall be parted kissed me on the mouth all trembling. A Gallehault was the book, and he who wrote it. That day we read no further in it.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

We read one day for pleasure, in the song
Of Launcelot, how Love him captive made;
We were alone without one thought of wrong.
Many and many a time our eyes delayed
The reading, and our faces paled apart;
One point alone it was that us betrayed.
In reading of that worshipt smile o' the heart,
Kissed by such lover on her lips' red core.
This one, who never more from me must part,
Kissed me upon the mouth, trembling all o'er:
For us our Galeotto was that book;
That day we did not read it any more.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

We were reading one day, for delight, of Lancelot, how love constrained him. We were alone and without any suspicion. Many times that reading made us lift our eyes, and took the color from our faces, but only one point was that which overcame us. When we read of the longed-for smile being kissed by such a lover, this one, who never from me shall be divided, kissed my mouth all trembling. Galahaut was the book, and he who wrote it. That day we read in it no farther.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

We read one day, to while the hour, of Lancelot, how love enthralled him: we were alone, with never a thought of harm. And oft and oft that reading brought our eyes together and drave the colour to our cheeks ; but one point, only one, it was that overcame us. When that we came to read of how the smiling lips he loved were kissed by lover such as he, he that no more shall e'er be parted from me, kissed my mouth trembling through. Our Galahad was the book and he that penned it: that day we read in it no more.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

One day, by way of pastime, we were reading
Of Lancelot, how love in fetters held him:
We were alone, and without thought of danger.
Full often did that reading bring together
Our glances, and made colourless our visage;
But just one point was that which overcame us:
When as we read how that the smile much longed for
Was kissed by one so passionately loving,
He who from me shall never be divided
Kissed me upon the mouth, all, all a-quiver: --
A Galehalt was the book and he who wrote it: --
Upon that day we read therein no further.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

We read one day for pastime of Lancelot, how love constrained him. We were alone and had no misgiving. Many times that reading drew our eyes together and changed the color in our faces, but one point alone it was that mastered us; when we read that the longed-fro smile was kissed by so great a lover, he who never shall be parted from me, all trembling, kissed my mouth. A Galeotto was the book and he that wrote it; that day we read in it no farther.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

One day we read for pastime how in thrall
Lord Lancelot lay to love, who loved the Queen;
We were alone -- we thought no harm at all.
As we read on, our eyes met now and then,
And to our cheeks the changing color started,
But just one moment overcame us -- when
We read of the smile, desired of lips long-thwarted,
Such smile, by such a lover kissed away,
He that may never more from me be parted
Trembling all over, kissed my mouth. I say
The book was Galleot, Galleot the complying
Ribald who wrote; we read no more that day.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

One day for dalliance we read the rhyme
of Lancelot, how love had mastered him.
We were alone with innocence and dim time.
Pause after pause that high old story drew
our eyes together while we blushed and paled;
but it was one soft passage overthrew
our caution and our hearts. For when we read
how her fond smile was kissed by such a lover,
he who is one with me alive and dead
breathed on my lips the tremor of his kiss.
That book, and he who wrote it, was a pander.
That day we read no further.
[tr. Ciardi (1954), l. 124ff]

One day, for pastime, we reqd of Lancelot, how love constrained him; we were alone, suspecting nothing. Several times that reading urged our eyes to meet and too the color from our faces, but one moment alone it was that overcame us. When we read how the longed-for smile was kissed by so great a lover, this one, who never shll be parted from me, kissed my mouth all trembling. A Gallehault was the book and he who wrote it; that day we read no farther in it.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

One day we read, to pass the time away,
of Lancelot, how he had fallen in love;
we were alone, innocent of suspicion.
Time and again our eyes were brought together
by the book we read; our faces flushed and paled.
To the moment of one line alone we yielded:
it was when we read about those longed-for lips
now being kissed by such a famous lover,
that this one (who shall never leave my side)
then kissed my mouth, and trembled as he did.
The book and its author was our galehot!
That day we read no further.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

One day, to pass the time away, we read
of Lancelot -- how love had overcome him.
We were alone, and we suspected nothing.
And time and time again that reading led
our eyes to meet, and made our faces pale,
and yet one point alone defeated us.
When we had read how the desired smile
was kissed by one who was so true a lover,
this one, who never shall be parted from me,
while all his body trembled, kissed my mouth.
A Gallehault indeed, that book and he
who wrote it, too; that day we read no more.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

One day, when we were reading, for distraction,
How Lancelot was overcome by love --
We were alone, without any suspicion;
Several times, what we were reading forced
Our eyes to meet, and then we changed color:
But one page only was more than we could bear.
When we read how that smile, so much desired,
Was kissed by such a lover, in the book,
He, who will never be divided from me,
Kissed my mouth, he was trembling as he did so;
The book, the writer played the part of Galahalt:
That day we got no further with our reading.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

One day, for pleasure,
We read of Lancelot, by love constrained:
Alone, suspecting nothing, at our leisure.
Sometimes at what we read our glances joined,
Looking from the book each to the other's eyes,
And then the color in our faces drained.
But one particular moment alone it was
Defeated us: the longed-for smile, it said,
Was kissed by that most noble lover: at this,
This one, who now will never leave my side,
Kissed my mouth, trembling. A Galeotto, that book!
And so was he who wrote it; that day we read
No further.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 112ff]

We were reading one day, for pleasure, of Lancelot, how Love beset him; we were alone and without any suspicion.
Many times that reading drove our eyes together and turned our faces pale; but one point alone was the one that overpowered us.
When we read that the yearned-for smile was kissed by so great a lover, he, who will never be separated from me,
kissed my mouth all trembling. Galeotto was the book and he who wrote it: that day we read there no further.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

We read, one day, to our delight, of Lancelot and how love constrained him: we were alone and without suspicion. Often those words urged our eyes to meet, and coloured our cheeks, but it was a single moment that undid us. When we read how that lover kissed the beloved smile, he who will never be separated from me, kissed my mouth all trembling. That book was a Galeotto, a pandar, and he who wrote it: that day we read no more.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

One day, to pass the time, we read of
Lancelot, who loved illicitly.
Just the two of us; we had not thought of what, as yet, was not.
From time to time that reading urged our eyes to meet.
and made our faces flush and pale,
but one point in the story changed our lives;
for when we read of how the longed-for smile
was kissed by such a noble knight,
the one who for eternity is by my side all trembling
kissed my trembling mouth.
The man who wrote this was a Galeotto; so was the book.
That day the rest of it remained unscanned.
[tr. Carson (2002)]

One day we read together for pure joy
how Lancelot was taken in Love's palm.
We were alone. We knew no suspicion.
Time after time, the words we read would lift
our eyes and drawn all color from our faces.
A single point, however, vanquished us.
For when at last we read the longed-for smile
of Guinevere -- at last her lover kissed --
he, who from me will never now depart,
touched his kiss, trembling to my open mouth.
This book was Galehault -- pander-penned, the pimp!
That day we read no further down those lines.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

One day, to pass the time in pleasure,
we read of Lancelot, how love enthralled him.
We were alone, without the least misgiving.
More than once that reading made our eyes meet
and drained the color from our faces.
Still, it was a single instant overcame us:
When we read how the longed-for smile
was kissed by so renowned a lover, this man,
who never shall be parted from me,
all trembling, kissed me on my mouth.
A Galeotto was the book and he that wrote it.
That day we read in it no further.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

One day we read the story of Lancelot
And how his love attacked and held him tight.
We were alone and unaware of our thoughts.
More than once the story forced our eyes
To meet, and as we looked our faces turned pale,
But just one single moment hung and decided
Us. We read how a smile we longed for stayed
On her lips until the greatest of lovers kissed them,
And then this man, who cannot be taken away
From me, kissed my mouth, his body trembling.
A famous go-between had written that tale.
That day, our time for reading suddenly ended.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

One day, to amuse ourselves, we were reading
The tales of love-struck Lancelot; we were all alone,
And naively unaware of what could happen.
More than once, while reading, we looked up
And saw the other looking back. We'd blush, then pale,
Then look down again. Until a moment did us in.
We were reading about the longed-for kiss
The great lover gives his Guinevere, when that one
From whom I'll now never be parted,
Trembling, kissed my lips.
That author and his book played the part
Of Gallehault. We read no more that day.
[tr. Bang (2012)]

Reading together one day for delight
Or Lancelot, caught up in Love's sweet snare,
We were alone, with no thought of what might
Occur to us, although we stopped to stare
Sometimes at what we read, and even paled.
But then the moment came we turned a page
And all our powers of resistance failed:
When we read of that great knight in a rage
To kiss the smile he so desired. Paolo,
This one so quiet now, made my mouth still --
Which, loosened by those words, had trembled so --
With his mouth. And right then we lost the will --
For Love can will will's loss, as well you know --
To read on. But let that man take a bow
Who wrote the book we called our Galahad,
The reason nothing can divide us now.
[tr. James (2013), l. 149ff]

 
Added on 31-Dec-22 | Last updated 1-Oct-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

A book read by a thousand different people is a thousand different books.

Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) Russian film director, screenwriter, film theorist [Андрей Арсеньевич Тарковский]
Sculpting in Time (1986) [tr. Hunter-Blair]
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More quotes by Tarkovsky, Andrei

If an epigram takes up a page, you skip it:
Art counts for nothing, you prefer the snippet.
The markets have been ransacked for you, reader,
Rich fare — and you want canapes instead!
I’m not concerned with the fastidious feeder:
Give me the man who likes his basic bread.

[Consumpta est uno si lemmate pagina, transis,
Et breviora tibi, non meliora placent.
Dives et ex omni posita est instructa macello
Cena tibi, sed te mattea sola iuvat.
Non opus est nobis nimium lectore guloso;
Hunc volo, non fiat qui sine pane satur.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 59 (10.59) (AD 95, 98 ed.) [tr. Michie (1972)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

If one sole epigram takes up a page,
You turn it o'er, and will not there engage:
Consulting not its worth, but your dear ease;
And not what's good, but what is short, does please.
I serve a feast with all the richest fare
The market yields; for tarts you only care.
My books not fram'd such liq'rish guests to treat,
But such as relish bread, and solid meat.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

If one small theme exhaust a page,
'Though fli'st upon the wings of rage,
To fewer words, tho' not more fine;
And met'st my matter, by the line.
A rich repast, from ev'ry stall,
We see upon thy palate pall.
We fear a sickly appetite,
Where tid-bits onely can delight.
Out oh! may I receive no guest
Who picks the tiny for the best.
His taste wills tand him more to sted,
Who makes no meal up without bread.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 11]

If one subject occupies a whole page, you pass over it; short epigrams, rather than good ones, seem to please you. A rich repast, consisting of every species of dish, is set before you, out only dainty bits gratify your taste. I do not covet a reader with such an over-nice palate; I want one that is not content to make a meal without bread.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You have no patience for the page-long skit,
Your taste is ruled by brevity, not wit.
Ransack the mart, make you a banquet rare,
You'll pick the titbit from the bill of fare;
I have no use for suchy a dainty guest;
Who ekes his dinner out with bread is best.
[tr. Street (1907)]

If a column is taken up by a single subject, you skip it, and the shorter epigrams please you, not the better. A meal, rich and furnished from every market, has been placed before you, but only a dainty attracts you. I have no need of a reader too nice: I want him who is not satisfied without bread.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You like the shortest poems, not the best,
Tis those you always read -- and skip the rest;
I spread a varied banquet for your taste,
You take made dishes and the rest you waste.
And wrong your appetite, for truth to tell
A satisfying meal needs bread as well.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

You've read one epigram; the rest you skip;
Shortness, not sweetness suits your censorship.
A whole rich mart's outspread before your feet;
And yet a small tit-bit's your only treat.
I want no gluttonous reader, no, indeed!
Still I prefer one who on bread can feed.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924) ep. 554]

If a poem of mine fills up a page,
You pass it by. You'd rather read
The shorter, not the better ones.
A fear to answer every need,
Rich and varied, and supplied
With many viands widely drawn
From every shop is offered you,
And yet you glance at it with scorn,
The dainties only pleasing you.
Fussy reader, away! Instead
Give me a guest who with his meal
Must have some homely peasant bread.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

If a page is used up with a single title, you pass it by; you like the shorter items, not the better ones. A sumptuous dinner furnished from every market is served you, but you care only for a tidbit. I don't want a reader with too fine a palate; give me the man who doesn't feel full without bread.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

A whole damned page crammed with verse -- so you yawn!
If a poem's too long you move swiftly on;
"Shorter the better!" is your golden rule.
But markets are scoured to make the tongue drool;
A groaning board's set -- rich sauces for days --
And yet, dear reader, you want canapés?
But I don't hunger for diners so prude:
Hail meat and potatoes -- screw finger food!
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

If just one poem fills a page, you skip it.
The short ones please you, not the best. I serve
a lavish dinner culled from every market,
but you are only pleased with the hors d'oeuvre.
A finicky reader's not for me; instead,
I want one who's not full without some bread.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

 
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KEATING: When you read, don’t just consider what the author thinks, consider what you think.

Tom Schulman (b. 1951) American screenwriter, director
Dead Poets Society (1989)
    (Source)
 
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If you cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use reading it at all.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
“The Decay of Lying” [Cyril] (1889)
    (Source)
 
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The verse is mine but friend, when you declaim it,
It seems like yours, so grievously you maim it.

[Quem recitas meus est, o Fidentine, libellus:
sed male cum recitas, incipit esse tuus.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 38 (1.38) (AD 85-86) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

"To Fidentinus." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

The Booke thou readst, O Fidentine, is mine;
But when thou ill recit'st it, it proves thine.
[tr. May (1629)]

The verses, Sextus, thou dost read, are mine;
But with bad reading thou wilt make them thine.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600)]

The verses, friend, which thou hast read, are mine;
But, as thou read'st them, they may pass for thine.
[tr. Bouquet]

The verses, friend, which thou hast read, are mine;
But, as thou read'st so ill, 't is surely thine.
[tr. Fletcher (c. 1650)]

My living lays were those that you dispense:
But, when you murder them, they yours commence.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.14]

O Fidentinus! the book you are reciting is mine, but you recite it so badly it begins to be yours.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 2, ep. 33]

With faulty accents, and so vile a tone,
You quote my lines, I took them for your own.
[tr. Halhead (fl. c. 1800)]

The book which you are reading aloud is mine, Fidentinus but, while you read it so badly, it begins to be yours.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

The verses, friend, which thou has read, are mine;
But, as though read'st them, they may pass for thine.
[tr. Bouquet (<1879)]

You're reading my book to your friends as your own:
But in reading so badly your claim to it's shown.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

That book you recite, O Fidentinus, is mine. But your vile recitation begins to make it your own.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The book you read in public from
is one I wrote. But the way you moan
and mangle it turns it into your own.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

They're mine, but while a fool like you recites
My poems I resign the author's rights.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

The little book you are reciting, Fidentinus, belongs to me. But when you recite it badly, it begins to belong to you.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Fame of how badly you read it endures.
Though that's my book, just call it yours.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Although the lines are mine (their worth assures) --
By badly singing them, you make them yours.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Dear Rud, the book from which you are
giving a reading is mine
but since you read so badly
it's yours.
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

The book that you recite from, Fidentinus, is my own.
But when you read it badly, it belongs to you alone.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

That little book you're reciting is one of mine, Fidentinus; but you're reciting it so badly, it's turning into one of yours.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

You ask me to recite my poems to you?
I know how you’ll “recite” them, if I do.
[tr. Burch (c. 2017)]

That verse is mine, you know, which you’re
Reciting, But you quote it
So execrably, that I believe
I’ll let you say you wrote it
[tr. Wender]

The poems thou are reading, friend, are mine;
But such bad reading starts to make them thine.
[tr. Oliver]

 
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Study has been for me the sovereign remedy against all the disappointments of life. I have never known any trouble that an hour’s reading would not dissipate.

Charles-Lewis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) French political philosopher
Mes Pensées [My Thoughts] (1720-1755)

Alternate translations:

Study has been to me a sovereign remedy against the vexations of life, having never had an annoyance that one hour's reading did not dissipate.
[Source]

Study has been to me a sovereign remedy against the troubles of life, and I have never had a grief that an hour's reading would not dissipate.
[Source]

 
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I know that the Bible is a special kind of book, but I find it as seductive as any other. If I am not careful, I can begin to mistake the words on the page for the realities they describe. I can begin to love the dried ink marks on the page more than I love the encounters that gave rise to them. If I am not careful, I can decide that I am really much happier reading my Bible than I am entering into what God is doing in my own time and place, since shutting the book to go outside will involve the very great risk of taking part in stories that are still taking shape. Neither I nor anyone else knows how these stories will turn out, since at this point they involve more blood than ink. The whole purpose of the Bible, it seems to me, is to convince people to set the written word down in order to become living words in the world for God’s sake. For me, this willing conversion of ink back to blood is the full substance of faith.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, Part 1 (2006)
    (Source)
 
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There is a class of people wanting to be called philosophers, who are said to have produced many books actually in Latin. For my part I don’t despise them — I’ve never read them. But since those selfsame writers proclaim that what they write is neither systematic nor properly subdivided nor correct nor polished in style, I pass by reading what would bring no pleasure.

[Est enim quoddam genus eorum qui se philosophos appellari volunt, quorum dicuntur esse Latini sane multi libri; quos non contemno equidem, quippe quos numquam legerim; sed quia profitentur ipsi illi qui eos scribunt se neque distincte neque distribute neque eleganter neque ornate scribere, lectionem sine ulla delectatione neglego.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 2, ch. 3 (2.3) / sec. 7 (45 BC) [tr. Douglas (1990)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

For there is a certain Set of such as assume to themselves the name of Philosophers, who are said to have Books enough in Latin, which I do not despise, for I have never read them; but because the Authors profess themselves, that they write neither with distinction of Terms, nor distribution of Parts, nor elegancy of Language, nor any Ornaments; I neglect to give that reading which is no ways delightful
[tr. Wase (1643)]

For there is a farther certain tribe who would willingly be called philosophers, whose books in our language are said to be numerous, which I do not despise, for indeed I never read the: but because the authors themselves declare that they write without any regularity or method, without elegance or ornament: I do not choose to read what is so void of entertainment.
[tr. Main (1824)]

For there is a certain race, who wish to be called philosophers, whose Latin books, indeed, are said to be numerous, which I have no contempt for, really, because I never read them; but, since their authors themselves profess to write without either order or method, ornament or elegance, I neglect a reading which affords me no delight.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

For there is a certain class of them who would willingly be called philosophers, whose books in our language are said to be numerous, and which I do not despise, for indeed I never read them: but still because the authors themselves declare that they write without any regularity, or method, or elegance, or ornament, I do not care to read what must be so void of entertainment.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

There is, indeed, a certain class of men who want to be called philosophers, who are said to have written many Latin books, which I do not despise, because I have never read them; but inasmuch as their authors profess to write with neither precision, nor system, nor elegance, nor ornament, I omit reading what can give me no pleasure.
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

There is a certain class of authors, who wish to be called philosophers, and who have apparently published many books in Latin. I do not, indeed, condemn them, because I never read them, but because they themselves confess that they have not written their books clearly or in a well-arranged manner, nor elegantly or with any ornament. I avoid the sort of reading which offers no enjoyment.
[tr. @sentantiq (2015)]

There exists a class of men who lay claim to the title of philosophers and are said to be authors of a great many books in Latin. These I personally do not despise, for the reason that I have never read them; but as the writers of these books on their own admission avoid in what they write a systematic approach, due subdivision, correctness, or a polished style. I have no interest in reading what brings no pleasure.
[tr. Davie (2017)]

 
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With many readers, brilliancy of style passes for affluence of thought; they mistake buttercups in the grass for immeasurable gold mines under the ground.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Kavanagh: A Tale, ch. 13 (1849)
    (Source)
 
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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)
 
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There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) Russian-American poet, essayist, Nobel laureate, US Poet Laureate [Iosif Aleksandrovič Brodskij]
Press conference, Library of Congress, Washington (17 May 1991)

On accepting the US Poet Laureateship.
 
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Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
Philosophical Dictionary [Dictionnaire Philosophique], “Liberty of the Press” (1764)
    (Source)
 
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Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.

Mason Cooley (1927-2002) American aphorist, academic
(Attributed)
 
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Dreams, books, are each a world; and books we know,
Are a substantial world, both pure and good:
Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
Our pastime and our happiness will grow.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) English poet
“Personal Talk,” st. 3 (1846)
    (Source)
 
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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)
    (Source)
 
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Long books, when read, are usually overpraised, because the reader wants to convince others and himself that he has not wasted his time.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
Commonplace Book (1985) [ed. Gardner]
    (Source)
 
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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)
 
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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).
 
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“If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master — to do as he is told to do. Learning will spoil the best nigger in the world. Now, if you teach that nigger how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy.”

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) American abolitionist, orator, writer
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, ch. 6 (1845)
    (Source)

Quoting his master, Auld, chastising Mrs. Auld for teaching Douglass to read. Frequently paraphrased down to "Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave."
 
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The owner of the library is not he who holds a legal title to it, having bought and paid for it. Anyone and everyone is owner of the library who can read the same through all the varieties of tongues and subjects and styles, and in whom they enter with ease and take residence and force toward paternity and maternity, and make supple and powerful and rich and large.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) American poet
Leaves of Grass, Preface (1855)
    (Source)

Reprinted on the wall of Atlantis Books, Oia, Santorini, Greece.
 
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She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.

Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) American writer
Work: A Story of Experience, ch. 2 (1873)
    (Source)
 
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I’ve learned to write in the first-person singular while remembering always that my writing must speak to the first-person plural.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“The Art of Fiction,” Paris Review, #116, Interview with George Plimpton (1990)
    (Source)
 
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May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Comment (31 Dec 2001)
    (Source)
 
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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)
 
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A bookstore is one of the only pieces of physical evidence we have that people are still thinking.

Jerry Seinfeld (b. 1954) American comedian
SeinLanguage (1993)
 
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Back in the nineteen-hundreds it was a wonderful experience for a boy to discover H. G. Wells. There you were, in a world of pedants, clergymen and golfers, with your future employers exhorting you to “get on or get out”, your parents systematically warping your sexual life, and your dull-witted schoolmasters sniggering over their Latin tags; and here was this wonderful man who could tell you about the inhabitants of the planets and the bottom of the sea, and who knew that the future was not going to be what respectable people imagined.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Wells, Hitler, and the World State,” Horizon (Aug 1941)
    (Source)
 
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“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 re-read.

François Mauriac (1885-1970) French author, critic, journalist
(Attributed)
 
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A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years’ study of books.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb

Given in translation in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hyperion, ch. 7 (1839).
 
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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)
 
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The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Morituri Salutamus,” st. 21 (1875)
    (Source)
 
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The book has been man’s greatest triumph. Seated in my library, I live in a Time Machine. In an instant I can be transmitted to any era, any part of the world, even to outer space. I have lived in every period of history. I have listened to Buddha speak, marched with Alexander, sailed with the Vikings, ridden in canoes with the Polynesians. I have been at the courts of Queen Elizabeth and Louis XIV; I have been a friend to Captain Nemo and have sailed with Captain Bligh on the Bounty. I have walked in the agora with Socrates and Plato, and listened to Jesus deliver the Sermon on the Mount.

Best of all, I can do it all again, at any moment. The books are there. I have only to reach up to the shelves and take them down to relive the moments I have loved.

Louis L'Amour (1908-1988) American writer
The Sackett Companion (1988)
    (Source)
 
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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.
 
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There is more reason for saying grace before a new book than before dinner.

Charles Lamb (1775-1834) Welsh-English essayist
“Grace before Meat,” Essays of Elia (1823)
 
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The Cool Stuff Theory of Literature is as follows: All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what’s cool. And that works all the way from the external trappings to the level of metaphor, subtext, and the way one uses words. In other words, I happen not to think that full-plate armor and great big honking greatswords are cool. I don’t like ’em. I like cloaks and rapiers. So I write stories with a lot of cloaks and rapiers in ’em, ’cause that’s cool.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
The Paths of the Dead (2002)

In the essay "Some Notes Toward Two Analyses of Auctorial Method and Voice" by Teresa Nielsen Hayden.
 
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I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any Man judge, unless his Mind has been opened and enlarged by Reading.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Diary (1761-08-01)
    (Source)
 
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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)
 
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All novels are, or should be, written for both men and women to read, and I am at loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.

Anne Brontë (1820-1849) British novelist, poet [pseud. Acton Bell]
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Preface (1848)
    (Source)
 
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I am always for getting a boy forward in his learning; for that is a sure good. I would let him at first read any English book which happens to engage his attention; because you have done a great deal when you have brought him to have entertainment from a book. He’ll get better books afterwards.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson “16 April 1779” (1791)
 
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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)
 
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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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