The Bookshelf: A Quote Collection



Great readers make great writers.  I know this not only because artists inspire each other, but also because authors so often take a moment to honour books in their own books. I have found many snippets where a story sings the praises of the joys of reading, but for today I will limit myself to five examples.


He wandered from room to room, perusing books that struck his interest and others that didn’t. He couldn’t resist pulling them from the shelf to smell them, to feel their pages, and to skim their contents no matter what the books were about.

The Monster in the Hollows, Andrew Peterson


Like every other room in the old house, Mr. Benedict’s study was crammed with books. Books on shelves that rose to the height ceiling, books in stacks on the floor, books holding up a potted violet in desperate need of water. On four chairs arranged before an oak desk rested still more books—which Rhonda and the pencil woman removed so the children could sit—and on the desk itself, piled in precarious, leaning towers, were even more.

The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart


There, sure enough, was Heidi, sitting beside Clara and reading aloud to her, evidently herself very much surprised, and growing more and more delighted with the new world that was now open to her as the black letters grew alive and turned into men and things and exciting stories. That same evening Heidi found the large book with the beautiful pictures lying on her plate when she took her place at the table, and when she looked questioningly at the grandmother, the latter nodded kindly to her and said, “Yes, it’s yours now.”

Heidi, Johanna Spyri


Solomon said—

Books are revered. They proclaim

The divine order to whoever listens a little.

They strengthen and restore reason,

Cheer each human heart

Through life’s miseries.

Saturn said—

He who tastes books’ insight is bold;

He who takes on their power is always the wiser.

The Second Dialogue of Solomon and Saturn


And to all this my friend the publisher made this very deep and effective reply, “Well, if a man is not to believe in himself, in what is he to believe?” After a long pause I replied, “I will go home and write a book in answer to that question.” This is the book that I have written in answer to it.

Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton

4 thoughts on “The Bookshelf: A Quote Collection

  1. I love it when authors take a moment to wax poetic about how wonderful books are! Or pay more subtle homage to their inspiration – like all the Treasure Island references scattered throughout the Ashtown books, or the tongue-in-cheek quotations L. M. Montgomery is always using.

    Writing books in answer to questions is a nice idea. Chesterton cracks me up; I love the part earlier in Orthodoxy where he says how “it was perhaps an incautious suggestion to make to a person only too ready to write books upon the feeblest provocation” – that, I suspect, is what I am: a person only too ready to write books upon the feeblest provocation.


    1. The Ashtown Burials books have Treasure Island references? I think that just moved them higher up my TBR list.
      When I’m feebly provoked, I sometimes start writing… but then overthink it and forget the question. I’m supposed to be writing something now, but I’m not sure what it is.


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