Writers on reading…

The old sage and great whit Stephen King says in ‘On Writing‘ “If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Occasionally I forget the former when I am too busy with the latter, Or forget the latter when I am too busy with the former. But then we all get lost in a good book once in a while, getting lost in a world of the imagination is more or less the point quite often. To be human, I sometimes think, is to tell stories, and listen to them…

Here then, because I have not done one of these for a while, are some quotes from the great, the good, and the occasional persistent scribbler, on reading…

“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.”  ~ Philip Pullman

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” ~ Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler)

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” ~ Joyce Carol Oates


“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” ~ Anne Lamott

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.” ~ Gustave Flaubert


“My alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.” ~ Malcolm X

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” ~ Confucius

“Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.” ~ Neil Gaiman


And finally, because on occasion one likes to pretend one truly understands the bleak nihilism of a certain cheerful German-speaking Bohemian Jewish novelist and managed to read ‘The Trial’ without it seeming to be such a trial to do so… And because quoting a certain cheerful German-speaking Bohemian Jewish novelist and Dr. Seuss in the same post amuses me way too much not to do it…

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” ~ Franz Kafka

Ever a ray of sunshine there Franz…

edit: In case your wondering I actually love the bleak nihilism of Kafka, I just don’t understand it, except when I am drunk, feeling philosophical and claim to do so.


ASOA pres8 banner

A Scar of Avarice: Available now on Kindle and in paperback

This entry was posted in #amwriting, amreading, goodreads, humour, opinion, pointless things of wonderfulness, quotes, reads, writes, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s