Thailand Footprint: The People, Things, Literature, and Music of Thailand and the Region


“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” — Henry David Thoreau

“Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” — Mark Twain

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” — Maya Angelou

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” — James Baldwin

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” — Stephen King

“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

“I still love books. Nothing a computer can do can compare to a book. You can’t really put a book on the Internet. Three companies have offered to put books by me on the Net, and I said, ‘If you can make something that has a nice jacket, nice paper with that nice smell, then we’ll talk.’ All the computer can give you is a manuscript. People don’t want to read manuscripts. They want to read books. Books smell good. They look good. You can press it to your bosom. You can carry it in your pocket.”  – Ray Bradbury

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” –Haruki Murakami

“I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it.” – Woodrow Wilson

10 Responses to “Ten Quotes about Reading … from Writers …”

  1. Lady Fancifull

    Ah, great quotes – the Kafka one particularly got me; Fantastic
    “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? “

  2. Collin Piprell

    I guess I tend to read the way Emerson did. Even with books I love, unless I discuss them with someone at length, I’m generally left with a flavor of the reading experience, while the names of characters and details of plot soon drift away from me.

  3. Kevin Cummings

    Thanks for the comments, Collin. Yes, Wilson was one of our Presidents. I almost left him off as he is not a “writer” per se. The Emerson quote made me feel better; considering the amount of time one invests in a read, it seems I should recall more. As for the Wilson quote your reaction is different than mine, perhaps because you are a legitimate author? From my standpoint if I had a choice between reading, say a Vonnegut or a John Grisham novel or getting to spend 30 minutes with either, I think I’d choose the latter in many cases. He’s paying you guys a compliment, me thinks …

    • Collin Piprell

      Of course I know Wilson was President; I was merely being funny. Sort of.

      So far as his attitude to books and writers goes, I was speculating that he felt capable of drawing what was worthy out of a writer with some well-considered questions, a wee chat. Doesn’t that disrespect all the effort a writer may put into a book, the final substance of that book often being a surprise to the writer himself? Maybe not. I have to wonder whether he wasn’t the sort who found fiction wanting by comparison with “real life,” the kind of thing I mentioned in the latter part of this post:

      • Kevin Cummings

        In all seriousness, Collin the blog post you reference has had a lasting impact on me. I think of it often. (And the best part about blog narratives, I can change them, anytime ;o)

        Your insight about writing and writers is always appreciated. Thanks.

        I did not wish to be a presumptive American re your need to know our Presidents. However, fair play and all, I have consulted with my American friend “lifelines” and we have, collectively, compiled a list of all the Prime Minister’s we can recall in your fine Canadian history, which I proffer here:

        Pierre Trudeau


      • Collin Piprell

        Well done. When I lived in England, the only time the newspapers took notice of this place called “Canada” was when Margaret Trudeau dropped her drawers in public (I speak only metaphorically, of course), and if you were to ask a whole generation of Brits for the name of a Canadian PM, they’d probably respond with something like, “Um… Trudeau? Oi, that’s right. Margaret Trudeau, innit?

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