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There was one place where I forgot the cold, indeed forgot Siberia. That was in the library. There, in that muddy village, was a great institution. Not physically, to be sure, but in every other way imaginable. It was a small log cabin, immaculately attended to with loving care; it was well lighted with oil lamps and it was warm. But best of all, it contained a small but amazing collection from the world's best literature, truly amazing considering the time, the place, and its size. From floor to ceiling it was lined with books - books, books, books. It was there that I was to become acquainted with the works of Dumas, Pasternak's translations of Shakespeare, the novels of Mark Twain, Jack London, and of course the Russians. It was in that log cabin that I escaped from Siberia - either reading there or taking the books home. It was between that library and two extraordinary teachers that I developed a lifelong passion for the great Russian novelists and poets. It was there that I learned to line up patiently for my turn to sit at a table and read, to wait - sometimes months - for a book. It was there that I learned that reading was not only a great delight, but a privilege.

Esther Hautzig
The Endless Steppe
Puffin (pp. 138/9)
1981 ed


Twain, Mark
As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.

The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson
Chapter XI


Hall, Joseph
God loveth adverbs.

Holy Observations
XIV, 1607

The adverb is the enemy of the verb.

Source unknown


Karl, Jean
A real book is something like a seed. A seed lives as it falls from the tree, but it is only a capsule, a small shell that contains the germ of what the tree is. Under the proper conditions, however, the seed will germinate and grow, and what grows will be like, though perhaps not exactly like, the parent plant. Similarly the author takes life as he sees it (a seed), fertilizes it with his imagination and his vision of truth, and produces a book, which physically bears no resemblance to the event or the people pictured, but instead is itself a seed with the power to grow once it is planted in the mind of the proper reder. The mind of the reader lets the ideas and vision of the author grow and flourish into something that is almost, but not quite, like the author's concept, because the soil of the reader's mind, his environment, and heredity help make the finished product for him.

Wilson Library Bulletin
The Real and the Unreal
around November 20 1966
November 20, 1966 (p. 3)

Taylor, Bayard
Shelved around us lie
The mummied authors.

The Poet's Journal
Third Evening

Twain, Mark
An author values a compliment even when it comes from a source of doubtful competency.



Brenan, Gerald
Anyone who sits down to write his autobiography should, I think, ask himself why he is doing it. Those three or four hundred pages devoted to his probably quite undistinguished life and doings call for some explanation. It is not enough to say with Sartre that in subjectivity one discovers other people as well as oneself. The fact remains that the autobiographer is asking a large number of men and women whom he does not know to take an interest in his personal affairs.

A Life of One's Own: Childhood and Youth

Brush, Daniel Harmon
I, Daniel Harmon Brush, having by favor of a good Providence attained to three-fourths of a century in age--still, however, strong and lusty in health--commence in this book the jotting down of items that have transpired in a somewhat busy and extended life, as recollected by me or derived from other reliable sources, of small importance or interest to the passing crowd, but which, in the relation, may tend to beguile a tedious hour and afford some recreation in the remaining shodowy days allotted me.

Growing Up with Southern Illinois: 1820 to 1861
Opening sentence

Cavendish, Margaret
I hope my readers will not think me vain for writing my life since ther have been many that have the like, as Caesar, Ovid, and many more, both men and women, and I know reason I may not do it as well as they: but I verily believe some censuring Readers will scornfully say, why hath this Lady writ her own life? since none cares to know whose daughter she was or whose wife she is, or how she was bred, or what fortunes she had, or how she lived, or what humour or disposition she was of? I answer that it is true, that 'tis to no purpose to the Readers, but it is to the Authoress, because I write it for my own sake, not theirs.

In Mary Ellen Chase
A Goodly Heritage

Hubbard, Elbert
AUTOBIOGRAPHY: 1. Auto-intoxication. 2. Things which no one else will say about you, and which therefore you have to say to yourself.

The Roycroft Dictionary (p. 12)

Waugh, Evelyn
Only when one has lost all curiosity about the future has one reached the age to write an autobiography. A Little Learning: An Autobiography
Opening Sentence

Adler, Mortimer J.
There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best sellers--unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns woodpulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books--a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a flase respect for their physical appearence.) The third has a few books or many--every one of them dogeared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, merked and scribbled from front to back. (This man owns books.)

The Saturday Review
How to Mark a Book
July 6, 1940

Alcott, Amos Bronson
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed with profit.

Table Talk
Book I

The books that charmed us in youth recall the delight ever afterwards; we are hardly persuaded there are any like them, any deserving equally our affections. Fortunate if the best fall in our way during this susceptible and forming periods of our lives.

Table Talk
Book I

Books are the most mannerly of companions, accessible at all times, in all moods, frankly declaring the author's mind, without offence.

Concord Days

Arber, Agnes
Hobbes, we are told, first drew 'the Designe of the Booke', and then 'walked much and contemplated, and he had in the head of his Staffe a pen and inke-horne, carries always a Note-book in his pocket, and as soon as a notion darted, he presently entred into his Booke, or els he should perhaps have lost it... Thus that Booke was made.

The Mind and The Eye

Aungervyle, Richard
Books are delightful when prosperity happily smiles; when adversity threatens, they are inseparable comforters. They give strength to human compacts, nor are grave opinions brought forward without books. Arts and sciences, the benefits of which no mind can calculate, depend upon books.

Chapter I

You, O Books, are the golden vessels of the temple, the arms of the clerical militia with which the missiles of the most wicked are destroyed; fruitful olives, vines of Engaddi, fig trees knowing no sterility; burning lamps to be ever held in the hand.

Chapter XV

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

Of Studies

Worthy books
Are not companions--they are solitudes:
We lose ourselves in them and all our cares.

Scene A Village Feast


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.

The Elder Brother
Act I, Scene 2

Bennett, Jesse Lee
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.

Books as Guides

Bertin, Eugene P.
Books are the gateways to the whole world, open avenues down which great ideas and inspirations move, and the heart and core of ages past.

March 12, 1967 (p. 203)

Borland, Hal
Machines rust away, computers falter and fail, cities strangle themselves, voices fade and are forgotten, but books remain. Wipe out all else--the cities, the factories, the schools themselves; but if one good library remained it would be possible for surviving men to create a new civilization.

American Education
Books Persist

Browning, E.B.
Books are men of higher stature,
And the only men that speak aloud for future times to hear.

Lady Geraldine's Courtship
Stanza 49

Brotherton, Alice Williams
Books we must have though we lack bread.

Ballade of Poor Bookworms

Brown, John Mason
As a writer, I hold uncut pages to be comment on an owner and an insult to an author. A book for me is something to be read, not kept under glass or in a safe. I wan to doggar it, to underline it, to annotate it, and mark my favorite passages, and make my own index on the blank pages at the back.

The Saturday Review
Seeing Things
22 September 1951

We call some books immoral! Do they live? If so, believe me, TIME hath made them pure. In Books, the veriest wicked rest in peace.

The Souls of Books
Stanza 3

There is no Past, so long as Books shall live!

The Souls of Books
stanza 4

Laws die, Books never.

Act I, scene 2

Bury, Richard de
You, O Books, are the golden vessels of the temple...burning lamps to be held ever in the hand.

Chapter 15

All the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion, unless God had provided mortals with the remedy of books.

Chapter 9

Byron, Lord (George Gordon Noel)
'Tis pleasant sure to see one's name in print;
A book's a book, although there's nothing in 't.

English Bards and Scotch Reviewers
l. 51

Chambers, Robert
Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind.

What English Literature Gives Us

Channing, William Ellery
It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds....In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.

On Self-Culture

Books are the true levellers. They give to all, who will faithfully use them, the society, the spiritual presence, of the best and greatest of our race.

On Self-Culture

Chesterfield, Lord
Due attention to the inside of books, and due contempts for the outside, is the proper relation between a mand of sense and his books.

10 January 1749

Buy good books and read them; the best books are the commonest, and the last editions are always the best, if the editors are not blockheads, for they may profit of the former.

19 March 1750

Chew, Beverly
Old Books are best! With that delight
Does "Faithorne fecit" greet our sight.

Old Books are Best

Conrad, Joseph
Of all the inanimate objects, of all men's creations, books are the nearest to us, for they contain our very thoughts, our ambitions, our indignations, our illusions, our fidelity to truth, and our persistent leaning toward error. But most of all they resemble us in their precarious hold on life.

Notes on Life and Letters (p. 5)

Crapsey, Adelaide
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.

The Immortal Residue

Eliot, Charles W.
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of sounsellors, and the most patient of teachers.

The Happy Life

Emerson, Ralph Waldo
In the highest civilizatin, the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfaction is provided with a resource against calamity.

Letters and Social Aims: Quotations and Originality

We prize books, and they prize them most who are themselves wise.

Letters and Social Aims: Quotations and Originality

The virtue of books is to be readable.

Society and Solitude

There are books...which take rank in our life with parents and lovers and passionate experiences.

Society and Solitude

Books are the best things, well used: abused, among the worst.
Nature, Addresses and Lectures

The American Scholar

Hardy, Thomas
Books are a world in themselves, it is true; but they are not the only world. The world itself is a volume larger than all the libraries in it.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Harrison, Frederic
Of all men perhaps the book-lover needs most to be reminded that man's business here is to know for the sake of living, not to live for the sake of knowing.

The Choice of Books

Johnson, Samuel
The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write: a man will turn over half a library to make one book.

In Boswell
Life of Samuel Johnson
Volume 2, 6 April 1775 (p. 344)

Karl, Jean
A good book is a complete statement. Though the ending may be open, the reader feels that he has read what the author wanted him to know and has come to a logical place. The material in the book is organized in a pattern that has meaning and gives a total structure to the work. And the whole has a feeling of unity that makes it one thing.

What a Children's Book Editor Looks For
July 1968

Lang, Andrew
A house full of books, and a garden of flowers.

Ballade of True Wisdom

Le Gallienne, Richard
Books, those miraculous memories of high thoughts and golden moods; those magical shells, tremulous with the secrests of the ocean of life;...those honeycombs of dreams; those orchards of knowledge; those still-beating hearts of the noble dead;...prisims of beauty; urns stored with all the sweets of all the summers of time; immortal nightingales that sing for ever to the rose of life.

Prose Fancies (p. 114)

Books are the sepulchers of thought;
The dead laurels of the dead.

Wind Over the Chimney
Stanza 8

Lowell, Amy
For books are more than books, they are the life
The very heart and core of ages past,
The reason why men lived and worked and died,
The essence and quintessence of their lives.

The Boston Athenaeum

Lyly, John
Far more seemly to have thy study full of books, than thy purse full of money.


MacPeek, Walter
Books are our legacies from the past and can be our contribution to the future.

October 13, 1968 (p. 283)

Mayo, William J.
How much better it is to have the walls covered with books with which we are establishing friendly relations, than with pictures of passing interest which we have happened to obtain. Eventually pictures may lose their interest, whereas books never lose their fascination.

Collected Papers of the Mayo Clinic & Mayo Foundation
Discussion of Paper by T.E. Keys
Volume 30, 1938

Books become friends that never fail;...

Bulletin of the Medical Library Association
Libraries Useful in the Day
Volume 25, September 1936

To books we turn to learn of the past, opinions of the present, and prognostications of the future.

Bulletin of the Medical Library Association
Libraries Useful in the Day
Volume 25, September 1936

Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a progeny of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.

Section 6

A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalmed and treasured up on purpose to a Life beyond Life.

Section 6

As good almost kills a man as kills a good book; who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye.

Section 6

That seasoned life of man preserved and stored up in books.

Section 6

For books are as meats and viands are; some of good, some of evil substance.

Section 20

For Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a via; the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.


Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.


Moore, George
The one invincible thing is a good book; neither malice nor stupidity can crush it.

Impressions and Opinions
A Great Poet

If books did good, the world would have been converted long ago.

Impressions and Opinions

Ovurbury, Sir Thomas
Books are a part of man's preogative;
In formal ink they thoughts and voices hold,
That we to them our solitude may give,
And make time present travel that of old;
Our life fame pieceth longer at the end,
And books it farther backward do extend.

The Wife

Pascal, Blaise
The last thing one discovers in writing a book is what to put first.


Proust, Marcel
And certainly there were many others...from whom I had assimilated a word, a glance, but of whom as individual beings I remembered nothing; a book is a great cemetary in which, for the most part, the names upon the tombs are effaced.

Time Regained

Reese, Lisette Woodworth
A book may be a flower that blows;
A road to a far town;
A roof, a well, a tower;
A book
May be a staff, a crook.


Rosenbach, A.S.
After love, book collecting is the most exhilarating sport of all.

October 2, 1966 (p. 3)

If a book is worth reading, it is worth buying.

Sesame and Lilies (p. 55)

Stevenson, R.L.
There is no quite good book without a good morality; but the world is wide, and so are morals.

A Gossip on a Novel of Dumas's

Smith, Alexander
Books are a finer world within the world...When I go to my long sleep, on a book will my head be pillowed.

Men of Letters

Susann, Jacqueline
A new book is just like any new product. Like a new detergent. You have to acquaint people with it. They have to know it's there. You only get to be number one when the public knows about you.

May 28, 1967 (p. 422)

Books, the children of the brain.

The Tale of a Tub
Section 1

Szent-Györgyi, Albert
The trouble with books is that they cannot be read. Who the hell has the time to read 300 pages? There is nothing you cannot say in two hours if it is essential.

In R.W. Moss
Free Rradical

Books are the treasured wealth of the world, the fit inheritance of generations and nations.


Tomlinson, H.M.
The good book is always a book of travel; it is about a life's journey.

Out of Soundings (p. 192)

Trollope, Anthony
Of all the needs a book has, the chief need is, that it be readable.

Chapter 19

Twain, Mark
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.

In Alex Ayres
Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

Classic- a book which people praise and don't read.

Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar

When I am king, they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out of books, for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved.

The Prince and the Pauper

The index of a book should always be written by the author, even though the book itself should be the work of another hand.

attributed by Robert Underwood Johnson, Remembered Yesterdays

...great books are weighed and measured by their style and matter and not by the trimmings and shadings of their grammer.

Mark Twain, a Biography

A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.

Letter to H. H. Rogers, 5/1897

Books are a guide to youth and an entertainment for age.

March 19, 1967 (p. 222)

Vaughan, Henry
Bright books: the perspectives to our weak sights,
The clear projections of discerning lights,
Burning and shining thought, man's posthume day,
The track of fled souls in their Milky Way,
The dead alive and busy, the still voice
Of enlarged spirits, kind Heaven's white decoys.

To His Books

Ward, William Arthur
Who gives a good book gives more than cloth, paper and ink....more than leather, parchment and words. He reveals a foreword of his thoughts, a dedication of his friendship, a page of his presence, a chapter of himself, and an index of his love.

July 17, 1966

Whitlock, Richard
Books are for company, the best of friends; in boubts counsellors, in damps comforters; Time's perspective, the home traveler's ship, or horse; the busy man's best recreation, the opiate of idle weariness, the mind's best ordinary, nature's garden and seed-plot of immortality.

Zootomia (p. 248)

Wilde, Oscar
There is no such things as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Woodberry, G.E.
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.

Torch (p. 176)

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.

Personal Talk
Stanza 3


Minarcini v. Strongsville (Ohio) City School District
A library is a storehouse of knowledge. When created for a public school, it is an important privilege created by the state for the benefit of students in the schools. That privilege is not subject to being withdrawn by succeeding school boards whose members might desire to "winnow" the library for books the contents of which occasioned their displeasure or disapproval.

541 F.2d 577, 582, 583 (6th Cir. 1976)

Lamb, Charles
Borrowers of books-those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes.

Essays of Elia
The Two Races of Men

Saxe, John Godfrey
'Tis well to borrow from the good and great;
'Tis wise to learn; 'tis God-like to create!

The Library


Emerson, Ralph Waldo
Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a 1000 years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age.

Society and Solitude

Melancon, Robert
A great public library, in its catalogue and its physical disposition of its books on shelves, is the monument of literary genres.

World Literature Today
Spring 1982 (p.231)

The collection is continued on page 2. To return to the science quotations just click here.