Drawing on thousands of sparkling, moving, entrancing quotations amassed over decades of slow-savoured reading, to refresh the mind and spirit, invigorate tired thought and flaccid prose, and improve the world’s Powerpoint presentations beyond belief. Dive in!

Dismissing death

Rory Stewart's father could be pithy, taciturn, and funny (without necessarily trying to be).  Here his son tries to open up a discussion on some of the deeper sides of...

Where is the chair?

An endearing philosophical philistinism in the elderly father of Rory Stewart. Ever practical, he had no truck with time-wasting on pointless speculations.

I may be guilty of similar.

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Two points of view

Very important to keep an open mind and allow yourself the possibility of having more than one view point. How better to do so than by having both a front...

Of humbug and hypocrisy

George Eliot makes a bold statement about wealthy Mr. Glegg's goodness of heart, until you get to the closing clause.  She has many such subtle ways of revealing human failing,...

Changed identity – II

Again, Rory Stewart's guide-bodyguard, Qasim, resorts to invention in presenting his ward to people they meet on their hike across Afghanistan. In general, Qasim does not appear to have regarded...

Changed identity – I

Rory Stewart's hike across remote areas of Afghanistan began with a couple of bodyguards assigned to him whether he wanted them or not. The senior of these, Qasim, has a...

Changing the subject

A young man in love learns a lesson in the limitations of egotism.  'She' is Maggie Tulliver, a beautiful human being both deeply loved yet in many ways greatly undervalued....

Rain refuge

It happens to be such a morning as I write this. The first chill, misty, rainy morning we've had in a long time and so much needed. Of course, the...

Pah to the Iliad

Tom dismisses one of the world's greatest epics, a 3,000 year old classic of war, on the grounds that its heroes cannot be verified and nor did they even use...

Euclidian toothache

Young Tom Tulliver makes the case (in vain) that studying Euclid causes toothache. If you allow for psychosomatic effect, he may be right. In any case, a winning education-avoidance reaction,...

Those interfering newbies

From Rory Stewart's trek across the Marches, the region of Britain aligned with Hadrian's Wall.  One of the charms of his account is that he takes the time to talk...

A singing map

I loved this idea, using a song to guide you in lieu of a map. From one of Rory Stewart's long treks, one across Afghanistan (and several neighbouring countries), and...

I have discovered that, with the passing of the years, my ignorance in countless areas… has become increasingly perfected while, at the same time, a lifelong practice of haphazard readings has left me with a sort of commonplace book in whose pages I find my own thoughts put into the words of others.   

Source: Alberto Manguel, The City of Words, CBC Massey Lecture Series (Toronto: Anansi Press, 2007), p. 3

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