Quotations about Writing and Books

Abraham Lincoln, reviewing a book
“People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.”

Albert Camus
“Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.”
Submitted by Lyn Hopper

Anatole France
“When a thing has been said and well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.”
Submitted by Hank Metz

Anne Lamottt
“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life; they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. Itâs like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You canât stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
Submitted by Teresa Skramstad

“Write a wise saying and your name will live forever”

Arthur Evans
“Nothing, not love, not greed, not passion or hatred, is stronger than a writer’s need to change another writer’s copy.”

Bobby Knight
“All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.”

Carl Sagan
“All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value.”

Carl Sagan
“It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English — up to fifty words used in correct context — no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.”
Submitted by Hank Metz

Carl Sandburg
“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”
Submitted by Lisa

“Anyone who has got a book collection/library and a garden wants for nothing.”

“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“To create one must be able to respond. Creativity is the ability to respond to all that goes on around us, to choose from the hundreds of possibilities of though, feeling, action, and reaction and to put these together in a unique response, expression or message that carries moment, passion and meaning. In this sense, loss of our creative milieu means finding ourselves limited to only one choice, divested of, suppressing, or cendoring feelings and thoughts, not acting, not saying, doing, or being.”

Cyril Connolly
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

Dame Rose Macaulay
“It was a book to kill time for those who like it better dead.”

Dorothy Parker
“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

Erica Jong
“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads..”

Ernest Hemingway
“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.”
Submitted by Lyn Hopper

Frank Zappa
“Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.”

Franklin Jones
“Originality is the art of concealing your source.”
Submitted by Martin Woods

Fred Brooks, Jr.
“…when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor.”

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”

Grace Paley
“You write from what you know, but you write in what you don’t know.”
Submitted by Lyn Hopper

Groucho Marx
“From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.”

Groucho Marx
“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.”

H. L. Mencken
“If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools and next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers… Ignorance and fanaticism are ever busy and need feeding. Always feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers; tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lecturers, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, Your Honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth centry when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.”

Clarence Darrow, at the Scopes Monkey Trial
“The net effect of Clarence Darrow’s great speech yesterday seemed to be precisely the same as if he had bawled it up a rainspout in the interior of Afghanistan.”

Harry Eagar, reviewing “Beyond the Quantum” by Michael Talbot
“The book is worth attention for only two reasons: (1) it attacks attempts to expose sham paranormal studies; and (2) it is very well and plausibly written and so rather harder to dismiss or refute by simple jeering.”

J. R. Pierce, “Symbols, Signals, and Noise” [On randomly generated sentences.]
“I think that it is hard to read such material without amusement. I feel a little admiration as well. I would never write, ‘It happened one frosty look of trees waving gracefully against the wall.’ I almost wish I could. Poor poets endlessly rhyme love with dove, and they are constrained by their highly trained mediocrity never to write a good line. In some sense, a stochastic process can do better; it at least has a chance.”

Jean Cocteau
“An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.”
Submitted by Lyn Hopper

Jean Sibelius
“Pay no attention to what the critics say; there has never been set up a statue in honor of a critic.”
Submitted by Hank Metz

Jeff G. Bone
“I think for the most part that the readership here uses the c-word in a similar fashion. I don’t think anybody really believes in a new, revolution- ary literature — I think they use `cyberpunk’ as a term of convenience to discuss the common stylistic elements in a small subset of recent sf books.”

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
“The feeling persists that no one can simultaneously be a respectable writer and understand how a refrigerator works, just as no gentleman wears a brown suit in the city. Colleges may be to blame. English majors are encouraged, I know, to hate chemistry and physics, and to be proud because they are not dull and creepy and humorless and war-oriented like the engineers across the quad. And our most impressive critics have commonly been such English majors, and they are squeamish about technology to this very day. So it is natural for them to despise science fiction.”
Submitted by Andrea C. Carrero

Lord Brabazon
“I take the view, and always have, that if you cannot say what you are going to say in twenty minutes you ought to go away and write a book about it.”

Mark Twain
“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

Mark Twain
“Just the omission of Jane Austen’s books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn’t a book in it.”

Mark Twain
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Mark Twain
“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

Mark Twain
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
Submitted by Lyn Hopper

Martin Mull
“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”
Submitted by Julian Davis

Martin Woods
“Write great ideas down as soon”

May Sarton
“It always comes back to the same necessity: go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard.”
Submitted by Lyn Hopper

Mordecai Richler
“Going Home Again” “For the record, pot, like the _Reader’s Digest_, is not necessarily habit- forming, but both can lead to hard-core addiction: heroin, in one case, abridged bad books in the other. Either way you look at it, a withdrawal from a meaningful life.”

Moses Hadas (1900-1966) in a book review
“This book fills a much-needed gap.”

Moses Hadas (1900-1966) in a letter
“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. I’ll waste no time reading it.”

Nadia Boulanger
“Life is denied by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece.”
Submitted by Lyn Hopper

Orson Scott Card, Science Fiction author
“Satanic Verses is a despicable book that could not have been written by a person who wished to behave decently and responsibly.”

Oscar Wilde
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”

Oscar Wilde
“Books are never finished they are merely abandoned.”
Submitted by Gary LeDrew

Paul McCartney
“Somebody said to me, `But the Beatles were antimaterialistic.’ That’s a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say `Now, let’s write a swimming pool’.”

Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451
The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.”

Ray Bradbury
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
Submitted By H. Robinson

Richard Bach
“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it however.”
Submitted by Martin Woods

Richard Bach
“I’m a writer as rarely as possible, when forced by an idea too lovely to let die unwritten”
Submitted by Martin Woods

Rick Kleiner
“…and before I knew what I was doing, I had kicked the typewriter and threw it around the room and made it beg for mercy. At this point the typewriter pleaded for me to dress him in feminine attire but instead I pressed his margin release over and over again until the typewriter lost consciousness. Presently, I regained consciousness and realized with shame what I had done. My shame is gone and now I am looking for a submissive typewriter, any color, or model. No electric typewriters please!”

Robert Service, Yukon Poet
“I have no doubt at all the Devil grins, As seas of ink I spatter. Ye gods, forgive my “literary” sins – The other kind don’t matter.”

Robert Louis Stevenson
“Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.”
Submitted by Martin Woods

Robert M. Hamilton
“A book of quotations . . . can never be complete.”

Ronald Reagan
“Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.”

Roy Blount, Jr.
“The last time somebody said, `I find I can write much better with a word processor.’, I replied, `They used to say the same thing about drugs.’

Russel Lynes
“Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it.”

Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
“A book is the product of a contract with the Devil that inverts the Faustian contract, he’d told Allie. Dr Faustus sacrificed eternity in return for two dozen years of power; the writer agrees to the ruination of his life, and gains (but only if he’s lucky) maybe not eternity, but posterity, at least. Either way (this was Jumpy’s point) it’s the Devil who wins.”

Samuel Goldwyn
“I don’t think anyone should write their autobiography until after they’re dead.”

Samuel Johnson
“What is written without effort is read without pleasure”

Sir Henry Wotton, “Reliquae Wottonianae”
“An ambassador is a man of virtue sent to lie abroad for his country; a news-writer is a man without virtue who lies at home for himself.”

Solomon Short
“I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
“When a man does not write his poetry, it escapes by other vents through him.”
Submitted by Lyn Hopper

Rita Mae Brown
“A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all.”

Rita Mae Brown
“I don’t expect executives to be creative but I do expect them to have courage.”

Stephen Pile
“Success is overrated and Man’s real genius lies in quite the opposite direction. Being really bad at something requires skill, panache and utter individualism.”
Submitted by Martin Woods

Steven Wright
“I wrote a few children’s books… not on purpose.”

Steven Wright
“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”

Steven Wright
“My girlfriend does her nails with white-out. When she’s asleep, I go over there and write misspelled words on them.”

Thomas Berger
“Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.”

Thomas S. Thomas
“Talk is cheap. Poetry economical”

Umberto Eco on why he wrote the novel “The Name of the Rose.”
“I felt like poisoning a monk.”

Virginia Woolf
“I read the book of Job last night – I don’t think God comes out well in it.”

Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
“It’s a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.”

Woody Allen
“How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?”

One thought on “Quotations about Writing and Books

  1. A few quotations I like, which are not on the list

    1) I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork. ~Peter De Vries

    2) When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. ~Enrique Jardiel Poncela

    3) The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. ~Agatha Christie

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