978-1-55821-882-6 / 9781558218826

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About the book:

The bibliophiles of the world are an erudite and witty bunch, especially the hundreds of quotable sages and wags whose bons mots are collected in this tribute to the written word. The authors of these insights, spanning centuries and continents, include Aeschylus and Lady Bird Johnson, Gustave Flaubert and Francis Bacon, Russell Baker and Isadora Duncan, Katharine Hepburn and Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso and Brad Pitt.

The quotations offer witticisms as well as philosophical insights. Woody Allen quips, "I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It's about Russia." And Franz Kafka declares, "Books must be the axe to break the frozen sea inside me." Mark Twain reflects, "I like a thin book because it will steady a table, a leather volume because it will strop a razor, and a heavy book because it can be thrown at a cat." And Fran Lebowitz notes that "Magazines all too frequently lead to books, and should be regarded by the prudent as the heavy petting of literature." Aristotle observes that "To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man." H.L. Mencken explains, "I write in order to attain that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved, which a cow enjoys on giving milk." And Thomas Mann opines that "A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."

In all, there are more than 500 quotations that pithily consider every aspect of authors, readers, collectors, and books. Entertaining and provocative, it is the sort of book that makes you sit friends down and read them just one more entry. In one such entry, Robertson Davies observes that "There are many people--happy people, it usually appears--whose thoughts at Christmas always turn to books. The notion of a Christmas tree with no books under it is repugnant and unnatural to them." This is just the sort of book to make such people remarkably content. --Stephanie Gold

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