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Quotes on Books

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Thomas Carlyle quote on books (image)

This quotation about books by the 19th century Scottish historian and political philosopher, Thomas Carlyle, is engraved high on the eastern wall of the vestibule of the Mitchell Library, Sydney, Australia.

The etching was made by James Fowler, M. Swan and A. Sproule. The vestibule was built in the years 1939-42.

Photo: David Paul Wagner.

"In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time; the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream."
-- Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish historian and political philosopher, in his lecture "The Hero as Man of Letters" given in 1840 and later published in the book On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History (1841)

"A room without books is like a body without a soul."
-- Attributed to Cicero (106-43 BC), Roman orator and statesman

"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book."
-- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), US writer and philosopher, in: Walden (1848)

"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
-- Attributed to Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), American critic and humorist

"All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was."
-- Ernest Hemingway

"If the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid down at my feet in exchange for my books and my love of reading, I would spurn them all."
-- François Fénelon

"A book is a friend whose face is constantly changing. If you read it when you are recovering from an illness, and return to it years after, it is changed surely, with the change in yourself."
-- Andrew Lang

"The first time I read an excellent book, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend. When I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting with an old one."
-- Oliver Goldsmith

"A book is a device to ignite the imagination."
-- Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader

"The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
-- Clarence Shepard Day, an American author, who wrote the humourous book Life With Father.

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers."
-- Charles William Eliot (1834-1926), American academic who was Harvard's president from 1869, who was the cousin of English poet T. S. Eliot, and who compiled The Harvard Classics (often referred to as Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf), a 51-volume of the classic works from world literature.

"If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads."
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book."
–Marcel Proust

"The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame."
–Oscar Wilde

Beware of the person of one book.
–Thomas Aquinas

Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.
–Henry David Thoreau

Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.
–George Bernard Shaw

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.
–Abraham Lincoln

I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.
–C.S. Lewis

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.
–William Styron

In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.
–Oscar Wilde

Some books leave us free and some books make us free.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Men do not understand books until they have a certain amount of life, or at any rate no man understands a deep book, until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents.
–Ezra Pound

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.
–Toni Morrison

A good book has no ending.
–R.D. Cumming

“So many books, so little time.”
— Frank Zappa

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
— Jane Austen

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
— Mark Twain

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.”
— Groucho Marx

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
— Groucho Marx

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
— C.S. Lewis

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
— Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

“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, The Catcher in the Rye

“Classic' - a book which people praise and don't read.”
— Mark Twain

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
— Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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