50 timeless quotes from book-loving authors

50 best quotes from #booklovers

Quotes about books, reading, and libraries collected from a single book published over a hundred years ago.

When we think about public domain books, the first thing that comes to mind is “oh, old good boring classics”.

The world has changed since the times of Francis Bacon or Jane Austen, but it doesn’t mean old books are nothing more than vintage caskets from the past.

As John Ruskin said: “All books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time.”

A single title that represents the second species was published by Oxford University Press in 1911. Edited by Robert M. Leonard, The Book-Lovers’ Anthology, includes thoughts from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Francis Bacon, William Makepeace Thackeray – and 250 others authors.

These wonderful quotes about love of books, libraries and reading, are priceless for every bookish type. Timeless. Inspiring. Worth sharing.

The quotes selected below are just a teaser of the fascinating read. The anthology consists of short excerpts from books, essays, diaries, letters, and table talks. R.M. Leonard managed to collect passages on different topics, including ancient vs modern books, private libraries, or very specific (and still fascinating): reading at meal times, the proper handling of books, presentation copies, or book marginalia.

The purpose of this list is not only to let you discover new inspiring thoughts about books and reading (in fact, many of these quotes are exclusive to The Book-Lovers’ Anthology).

There is a second, and more important reason: to encourage you to explore free public domain books. The Book-Lovers’ Anthology is in public domain. It’s free to download as an ebook, completely for free, legally. You can get a file from Project GutenbergInternet Archive, and Open Library, and other websites that offer public domain books.

Short excerpts of text make the book surprisingly easy to read. Like a Facebook wall, message board, or RSS feed – focused on one timeless topic: book love.

Conclusion? Any of the quotes from below is a perfect one.

50 most inspirational quotes from books

Read also 50 most inspirational quotes from books

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An extended list of the most inspirational book quotes of all time: J.K. Rowling, Sylvia Plath, Oscar Wilde, Neil Gaiman, John Green, among others.

50 timeless quotes from book lovers

1

In the highest civilization the book is still the highest delight. –Ralph Waldo Emerson #book #quote

In the highest civilization the book is still the highest delight.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Quotation and Originality

2

Books have that strange quality, that being of the frailest and tenderest matter, they outlast brass, iron and marble. –William Drummond

Books have that strange quality, that being of the frailest and tenderest matter, they outlast brass, iron and marble.

– William Drummond, Bibliotheca Edinburgena Lectori

3

For one thing, I know every book of mine by its scent.

– George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft

4

It is true, that it is not at all necessary to love many books, in order to love them much. –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is true, that it is not at all necessary to love many books, in order to love them much.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

5

Books have always a secret influence on the understanding.

– Samuel Johnson, Adventurer

6

Books think for me. – Charles Lamb #book #quote

Books think for me.

– Charles Lamb, Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading

7

Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason;—they made no such demand on those who wrote them.

– Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon

8

All books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time.

– John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies

9

The reading of books, what is it but conversing with the wisest men of all ages and all countries. –Isaac Barrow

The reading of books, what is it but conversing with the wisest men of all ages and all countries.

– Isaac Barrow, Of Industry in our Particular Calling as Scholars

10

The author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.

– Benjamin Disraeli

11

Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book. –Ralph Waldo Emerson #book #quote

Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Goethe

12

Modern writers are the moons of literature; they shine with reflected light, with light borrowed from the ancients.

– Samuel Johnson

13

When a man says he sees nothing in a book, he very often means that he does not see himself in it. –A.W. Hare

When a man says he sees nothing in a book, he very often means that he does not see himself in it.

– A.W. Hare and J.C. Hare, Guesses at Truth

14

I love an author the more for having been himself a lover of books.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

15

I would desire to have no other prison than a library, and to be chained together with many good authors. –Robert Burton

I would desire to have no other prison than a library, and to be chained together with as many good authors.

– Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

16

Every person of tolerable education has been considerably influenced by the books he has read.

– John Foster, On a Man’s Writing Memoirs of Himself

17

I would rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books than a king who did not love reading.

– Thomas Babington Macaulay

18

I shall die reading; since my book and a grave are so near.

– John Donne, Letters to Several Persons of Honour

19

In my garden I spend my days; in my library I spend my nights.

– Alexander Smith, Dreamthorp

20

It is difficult, almost impossible, to find the book from which something either valuable or amusing may not be found, if the proper alembic be applied.

– John Hill Burton, The Book-Hunter

21

In the best books great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.

– William Ellery Channing, Self-Culture

22

Let us not forget the genial miraculous force we have known to proceed from a book.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoughts on Modern Literature

23

Cultivate above all things a taste for reading. –Robert Lowe #book #quote

Cultivate above all things a taste for reading.

– Robert Lowe, Speech to the Students of the Croydon Science and Art Schools

24

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

– Sir Richard Steele, Tatler

25

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking makes what we read ours.

– John Locke, Conduct of the Understanding

26

Seated in my library at night, and looking on the silent faces of my books, I am occasionally visited by a strange sense of the supernatural.

– Alexander Smith, Dreamthorp

27

Libraries are the wardrobes of literature. –George Dyer #book #quote

Libraries are the wardrobes of literature.

– George Dyer

28

There is no pleasure so cheap, so innocent, and so remunerative as the real, hearty pleasure and taste for reading.

– Robert Lowe, Speech to the Students of the Croydon Science and Art Schools

29

Except a living man, there is nothing more wonderful than a book! –Charles Kingsley #book #quote

Except a living man, there is nothing more wonderful than a book!

– Charles Kingsley, Village Sermons: On Books

30

If we encountered a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he read.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Quotation and Originality

31

Books are the depositary of everything that is most honourable to man.

– William Godwin, The Inquirer: Of an Early Taste for Reading

32

One must be rich in thought and character to owe nothing to books.

– Amos Bronson Alcott, Tablets

33

The foolishest book is a kind of leaky boat on the sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in, anyhow. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

The foolishest book is a kind of leaky boat on the sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in, anyhow.

– Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Poet at the Breakfast-Table

34

Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, which are delivered down from generation to generation, as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn.

– Joseph Addison, Spectator

35

Books are a guide in youth, and an entertainment for age.

– Jeremy Collier, Essays upon several Moral Subjects

36

Books are the best type of the influence of the past.

– William Wordsworth, Personal Talk

37

We should choose our books as we would our companions, for their sterling and intrinsic merit.

– Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon

38

Read few books well. –John Horne Tooke #book #quote

Read few books well.

– John Horne Tooke, Recollections of S. Rogers

39

We expect a great man to be a good reader. –Ralph Waldo Emerson #quote

We expect a great man to be a good reader.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Quotation and Originality

40

Reading makes a full man. –Francis Bacon #book #quote

Reading maketh a full man.

– Francis Bacon, Essays

41

Some read to think,—these are rare; some to write,—these are common; and some read to talk,—and these form the great majority.

– Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon

43

A man may as well expect to grow stronger by always eating, as wiser by always reading. –Jeremy Collier

A man may as well expect to grow stronger by always eating, as wiser by always reading.

– Jeremy Collier, Essays upon several Moral Subjects

44

Books gratify and excite our curiosity in innumerable ways.

– William Godwin, The Inquirer: Of an Early Taste for Reading

45

Novels are sweets. –William Makepeace Thackeray #book #quote

Novels are sweets.

– William Makepeace Thackeray, Roundabout Papers: On a Lazy Idle Boy

46

The novel, in its best form, I regard as one of the most powerful engines of civilization ever invented. –John Herschel

The novel, in its best form, I regard as one of the most powerful engines of civilization ever invented.

– John F.W. Herschel, Address to the Subscribers to the Windsor Public Library

47

More is got from one book on which the thought settles for a definite end in knowledge, than from libraries skimmed over by a wandering eye.

– Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Caxtoniana

48

I go into my library, and all history unrolls before me.

– Alexander Smith, Dreamthorp

49

Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind. –James Payn #book #quote

Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind.

– James Payn, Chambers’s Journal

50

Words are the only things that last for ever. –William Hazlitt #book #quote

Words are the only things that last for ever.

– William Hazlitt, Table Talk

Image used in the pictures: The Bodleian Library, at the University of Oxford – from a pre-title page of The Book-Lovers’ Anthology.

• • •

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