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One must always be careful of books ... and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.

CASSANDRA CLARE, Clockwork Angel

When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. There may be a superficial escape – into different countries, mores, speech patterns – but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life’s subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic.

JULIAN BARNES, A Life with Books

To buy books as some do who make no use of them, only because they were published by an eminent printer, is much as if a man should buy clothes that did not fit him, only because they were made by some famous tailor.

ALEXANDER POPE, "Thoughts on Various Subjects"

I think a great book—leaving aside other qualities such as narrative power, characterization, style, and so on—is a book that describes the world in a way that has not been done before; and that is recognized by those who read it as telling new truths.

JULIAN BARNES, The Paris Review, winter 2000

Savages and primitives believed in books that could suck your soul out through your eyes as you read them, books that could wrap their pages around your head and swallow you, words that crawled into your brain like tapeworms.

K. J. PARKER, The Escapement

I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.

CARLOS RUIZ ZAFON, The Shadow of the Wind

Books are nothing but repositories for those lies the author wants his reader to believe.

GLEN COOK, Water Sleeps

It's up to the parents to not only allow but encourage reading fun books. People tend to push books that are good for you, like broccoli instead of ice cream. But if you let them read Spider-Man—I sure did—they are going to move on to Ray Bradbury and Stephen King.

NORA ROBERTS, Time Magazine, Nov. 29, 2007

A man's bookcase will tell you everything you'll ever need to know about him.


I think the thing about reading is to read a lot, so you open lots of different views on the world. I'd much rather they read six random books than just one brilliant one. And what you get out of a book as an adult isn't what you'd get out of it when you're fifteen and encountering ideas for the first time and they can blow your head off. Whenever I think of narrowing it down to just one I can't bear to exclude the others.

JO WALTON, RT Book Reviews interview

Books say: She did this because. Life says: She did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books.

JULIAN BARNES, Flaubert's Parrot

Books are embalmed minds. They make the great of other days our present teachers.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.

ROALD DAHL, The Telegraph, Sep. 13, 2011

No two persons ever read the same book, or saw the same picture.

MADAME SWETCHINE, "Airelles," The Writings of Madame Swetchine

A good book, in the language of the booksellers, is a saleable one; in the language of the curious, a scarce one; in that of men of sense, a useful and instructful one.

ELIZA COOK, Diamond Dust

In reading some books we occupy ourselves chiefly with the thoughts of the author; in perusing others, exclusively with our own.

EDGAR ALLAN POE, "Marginalia"

Libraries really are wonderful. They're better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit in selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts.

JO WALTON, Among Others

A book ... should resemble a tranquil lake, in whose glassy surface the varied wonders of the earth and sky are faithfully imaged.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

We should use a book as a bee does a flower.

ELIZA COOK, Diamond Dust

Books are the mirrors of the soul.

VIRGINIA WOOLF, Between the Acts

How many good books suffer neglect through the inefficiency of their beginnings!

EDGAR ALLAN POE, "Marginalia"

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

EMILY DICKINSON, "There is no frigate like a book"

A book should be an axe to chop open the frozen sea inside us.

J. M. COETZEE, Summertime

There are men that will make you books, and turn them loose into the world, with as much dispatch as they would do a dish of fritters.


When you’re reading a novel, I think the reason you care about how any given plot turns out is that you take it as a data point in the big story of how the world works. Does such-and-such a kind of guy get the girl in the end? Does adultery ever bring happiness? How do winners become winners?

ELIF BATUMAN, interview, The Rumpus, Apr. 25, 2012

Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed.

ANNE RICE, The Witching Hour

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.

FRANCIS BACON, "Of Studies," Essays

For out of old fields, as men saith,
Cometh all this new corn from year to year;
And out of old books, in good faith,
Cometh all this new science that men learn.

GEOFFREY CHAUCER, "Parliament of Foules"

Books are always obviously having conversations with other books, and some times they're amiable and sometimes not.

CHINA MIÉVILLE, The City and the City

I feel that books, just like people, have a destiny. Some invite sorrow, others joy, some both.


Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read that book.

JOHN GREEN, The Fault in Our Stars

Only in today's sick society can a man be persecuted for reading too many books.

MARKUS ZUSAK, The Book Thief

And books, they offer one hope - that a whole universe might open up from between the covers, and falling into that universe, one is saved.

ANNE RICE, Blackwood Farm

Books that have become classics -- books that have had their day and now get more praise than perusal -- always remind me of retired colonels and majors and captains who, having reached the age limit, find themselves retired on half pay.


I would like to save all books, those that are banned, those that are burned, or forgotten with contempt by the mandarins who want to tell us what is good and what is bad. Every book has a soul ... and I believe every book is worth saving from either bigotry or oblivion.

CARLOS RUIZ ZAFON, "An interview with Carlos Ruiz Zafon", Book Browse

Thank God for books as an alternative to conversation.

W. H. AUDEN, The Complete Works of W. H. Auden

An unliterary man may be defined as one who reads books once only.

C. S. LEWIS, "On Stories", Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories

I should have written books instead of reading them.


Books of quick interest, that hurry on for incidents are for the eye to glide over only. It will not do to read them out. I could never listen to even the better kind of modern novels without extreme irksomeness.

CHARLES LAMB, "On Books and Reading", The Last Essays of Elia

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