Wonderful Reading Quotes

grouchomarx Reading is beyond a doubt my favorite hobby. You probably wouldn’t be reading this blog if it wasn’t one of yours as well. One of the many things I love about books is finding words that express what I feel. So often authors concisely say in a few lines concepts I have been struggling to give words to. Over the years many of those lines, or rather quotes, have made up a large part of the thread from which I weave my beliefs and behaviors. But some I collect just for fun. And among those just for fun favorite quotes are pithy comments about reading. I am surprised – and delighted – at how I find them everywhere. For example, I was tickled when in the film Ratatouille brother Emile asks hero Remy, “You read?” in an accusatory voice. His slightly defensive response? “Well, not excessively.” Yep, I’ve been in that defensive position myself when someone asks, “Is that another book?” in much the same tone you would ask, “Good Lord, is that heroin in your pocket?”

Most of my favorite quotes aren’t a defense of reading though but a celebration of it. They describe why it’s great and how important it can be to those of us who love it. Take for example the poem by Strickland Gillian Richer Than Gold:

You may have tangible wealth untold;

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be –

I had a mother who read to me.

Another favorite is from Nancy Byrd Turner:

The bookshop has a thousand books

All colors, hues, and tinges

And every cover is a door

That turns on magic hinges

The famous Abraham Lincoln quote I have on a book bag resembles my character very much: “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” And I have sadly lived my life by the words of Erasmus: “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

I don’t quite agree with Louisa May Alcott who said, “Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.” Few is not a word I would choose in defining my reading habits. However, thanks to the public library I can agree (partially) with Lady Mary Wortley Monague, “No entertainment is so cheap as reading nor any pleasure so lasting.” The latter half of that saying really is something I can personally vouch for. Of all my hobbies, none has lasted so long nor brought so much pleasure.

Phil Collins must understand these feelings as well. He wrote a song called Hero which, among other things, captured the feeling many readers get when they encounter a great novel:

Well it was one of those great stories

That you can’t put down at night

The hero knew what he had to do

And he wasn’t afraid to fight

The villain goes to jail

While the hero goes free

I wish it were that simple for me

And the reason that she loved him

Was the reason I loved him too

And what about the armchair adventuring aspect of the experience? As Jean Rhys says, “Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” Too true. I have learned so much about foreign cultures just by reading what they write.

I have to absolutely agree with the statement, “When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.” Books not only reflect our growth they help us achieve it. As Franz Kafka said, “A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.” In other words, it defrosts the surface and bring forth the richness that lies beneath.

I conclude with what Thomas Jefferson said, “I cannot live without books.” I probably could – but I sure wouldn’t want to.
What are your favorite quotes about reading?

– Maggie Boyd

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29 Responses to “Wonderful Reading Quotes”

  1. Not precisely a quote, but I started reading Jane Eyre when I was 13, because she was 13 and snuggled in a library, reading.
    Still one of my favorite books!

  2. Paola says:

    A sad, but oh, so true quote from Eva Ibbotson’s A Company of Swans: “Loneliness had taught Harriet that there was always someone who understood – it was just so often that they were dead, and in a book.”
    And my favorite quote for people that don’t like reading (they exist!) from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey: “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

    • maggie b. says:

      I absolutely LOVE both of these. Thanks so much for sharing them!

    • Carol Lowe says:

      I have a really good friend (who isn’t stupid) who hates to read and can’t understand why I love it so. It’s one of the things we agree to disagree about.
      My favorite quote is: You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me (paraphrased) C.S. Lewis.

  3. Leigh says:

    So funny that you are talking about a love for reading. Yesterday, I was talking with another dog lover – She has a german shepherd and I said oh, do you read. And she said not really. And I said – oh but there is this great book about a german shepherd – you would love it (Suspect by Robert Crais) but I could tell she really wasn’t interested even after I told her a little bit about the story. And I felt disappointed. I wanted her to share the wonder of this great story.

    Voltaire had a great saying: Let us read, let us dance: these two amusements will never do any harm to the world

    Of course – my mother would have disagreed (grin) –her biggest challenge was trying to get my nose out of book to do my chores or any other task.

    I think if I had audio books back in my teens my life would have been easier. I could have both “read” and worked, instead of sulking because I was pulled away from a good book.

    • Maria D. says:

      It is such a shame when you read about someone or meet someone who isn’t a reader – it’s actually quite sad.

      I totally agree about the audio books – had I known then existed when I was a kid …..I would have been happier doing chores…..lol

  4. India says:

    “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ― Frederick Douglass

  5. Joane says:

    There is a wonderful quote in the Quixote, by Cervantes. It says ‘There is no book so bad but it has something good in it’.
    And I do agree. There’s always something you can rescue from nearly any book.

    • maggie b. says:

      I always feel that even if the book is bad, the good in it is that the author made an effort. That’s always worth something.

  6. Maria D. says:

    What a great idea for a post! I haven’t really thought of reading in terms of quotes but it is something I do every day and I completely agree with all of them you’ve pointed out.

    I would have to say that one of my favorites is this –
    “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
    ― Dr. Seuss

  7. Patty says:

    When my son took a middle school trip to D.C. he brought me back a book bag with the quote by Thomas Jefferson to John Adams “I cannot live without books.” This is SO true for me. For me they’re as necessary as air and water.

  8. willaful says:

    I’m afraid it’s an uncredited paraphrase until I can find where I wrote it down once, but something like “Don’t tell me I resd novels to escape; I read them to build a life.”

    And of course, the quote in my AAR signature: “I say, don’t read the classics — try to discover your own classics; every life has its own.” — Rudolf Flesch, How to Make Sense

  9. lor says:

    As a reader and a gardener, my favourite quote is from Marcus Tullius Cicero:

    “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

    • Joane says:

      Also attributed to Cicero, but it’s not sure it was him who said it: ‘A room without books is like a body without a soul’

  10. Ellie says:

    I love Laurie Notaro’s essays. If you’re looking for some silly observational humor, start with “The Idiot Girls Action Adventure Guide.” This gem is one of my favorites:

    Books are to me as homemade tattoos are to an inmate. Can’t get enough of them.

  11. LeeB. says:

    Gosh I know lots of great quotes, but I can’t remember any of them. Argh!!!! But it’s lovely to read all the ones everyone provided.

  12. “I cannot live without books.”- Thomas Jefferson

  13. Deann says:

    I love the poem Richer Than Gold. It really speaks to my heart, because my Mom is a reader and I have fond memories of her reading books to me as a child. I carried that tradition on with my daughter, who is an avid reader as well.

    The quote in my AAR signature is a favorite by Susan Wiggs, “You’re never alone when you’re reading a book.”

    A favorite by Jane Austin, “but for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.” This is so true.

    One of my sisters, who is not a reader (sigh) gave me a book bag with a quote on the bag by Louisa May Alcott, “She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain.” I laughed when I received that precious book bag. I don’t think that she has ever understood my love of reading.

    • maggie b. says:

      “She is too fond of books and it has addled her brain” is my signature here at AAR. Might even be true. . . . . . .

  14. Detra says:

    Two of my favorites:

    “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” Ernest Hemingway

    “The best book, like the best speech, will do it all – make us laugh, think, cry and cheer – preferably in that order.” Madeline Albright

  15. Rachel says:

    This post inspired me too Google quotes about reading which yielded these that sum it up nicely for me -

    “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” ― Stephen King, On Writing

    “Books to the ceiling,
    Books to the sky,
    My pile of books is a mile high.
    How I love them! How I need them!
    I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them.”
    ― Arnold Lobel

    • maggie b. says:

      Hopefully I won’t have a beard by the time I read them but that quote by Arnold Lobel does describe my TBR. :-) I really like both of these.

  16. hapax says:

    Chiming in late (as always!) but my favorite reading quote is said by Scout Finch, in Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

  17. Suzanna says:

    “I’ve traveled the world twice over,
    Met the famous; saints and sinners,
    Poets and artists, kings and queens,
    Old stars and hopeful beginners,
    I’ve been where no-one’s been before,
    Learned secrets from writers and cooks
    All with one library ticket
    To the wonderful world of books.”

    ― Janice James

  18. Sonia Grgas says:

    Words to live by: “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” — Lemony Snicket