Wise Sayings on the
Reading of Good Books
A collection of some of my favorite quotes on books and reading.
It is my assumption that the majority of readers of this blog are thoughtful readers. If you are, then you will nod your head throughout this post. If you aren't much of a reader, I hope you will be inspired to become more of a reader . . . as well as a discriminating reader who reads the truly great books.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “The decline of literature indicates the decline of a nation.”
If that is so, then I am both relieved and alarmed. I am relieved and encouraged because of the availability of really good books, both ancient and modern to help us on our journey. Are there new “classics” or “great literature” being written today? Yes, I think so, but like any age, only a few are written in any age and we don’t usually recognize them as classics until some more time goes by. The good news is there are just a lot of good and really good resources to use.
I am concerned and alarmed about the decline of reading in our culture at large, among Christian as well and especially sad when I encounter another leader who doesn’t read (or read much, or read much good literature). Illiteracy is not being able to read. A-literacy is being able to read but choosing not to.
Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” Christian leaders who choose not to read will have no more access to the world of powerful (good, beautiful and true) ideas available through great literature then the illiterate person. Here are some quotes about books and reading, which have inspired me through the years.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. Francis Bacon
Books represent the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the ages, available for pennies on the dollar. Books preserve the greatest thoughts, the greatest ideas, and the greatest insights of human experience. Chris Brady
If you read a book a week, in a year you’ll have read 52 books. In ten years 520 books. You’ll be in the top 1% of your field. You’ll be more motivated, better educated; you’ll become the leader in your field. Jim Rohm
Many times the reading of a book has made the future of a man. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Noted 18th century scholar Dr. Samuel Johnson once sat in discussion with the King of England. “I suppose, Dr. Johnson, that you read a great deal” said the King. “Yes Sire” replied Johnson, “but I think a great deal more.”
People who hope to successfully influence what goes on around them will develop the habit of reading great books. William J. O’Neil (founder of Investor’s Business Daily)
The best book is the one that sets us off on a train of thought that carries us far away from and far beyond the book itself. (author unknown to me)
It’s a good plan to have a book with you in all places and at all times. If you are presently without, hurry without delay to the nearest shop and buy one of mine. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Along the way you will find a few books that become your constant companions. When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book then you did before; you see more n you than you did before.” Clifton Fadiman
And here is a final thought on books from New York City pastor/preacher, Henry Ward Beecher who lived and ministered in the 1800’s.
Let us congratulate the poor that, in our day, books are so cheap that a man may every year add a hundred volumes to his library for the price of what his tobacco and beer would cost him. Among the earliest ambitions to be excited in clerks, workmen, journeymen and, indeed among all that are struggling up from nothing to something, is that of owning, and constantly adding to a library of good books. A little library growing larger every year, is an honorable part of a young (person’s) history. It is a man’s (and woman’s) duty to have books. A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life.
Make yourself a nice reading nook in your house. Get a bookshelf, a good chair, a table, a lamp. How about this cozy set up.
So here is to good books, good reading (maybe even a few re-readings) and growing libraries as we move on in the journey of life long learning and transformation.
If you have a favorite quote on books and reading - drop me a note in the comments.
If you have a favorite "great book" you'd recommend - make a note in the comments.
If there is a spiritual classic that has been a great benefit for you - the same.
If you found this helpful, forward it to a friend, or put it on your Facebook page as a link.
If you want to subscribe to a weekly email that is one of the very best reviews of books, visit the Hearts and Minds website BookNotes link and sign up to receive Byron Borger's reviews. They are simply outstanding.
I also loved this design of library shelves using a staircase. Check it out here.
Who are the true mystics?
Brian K. Rice
Evangelicals on the Ignatian Way
Leadership ConneXtions International