Sharing thousands of sparkling, moving, entrancing quotations amassed over decades of slow-savoured reading, to refresh the mind and spirit and invigorate flagging thought and flaccid prose. Dive in!

A quotation is not an excerpt.  A quotation is a cicada.  It is part of its nature never to quiet down.  Once having got hold of the air, it does not release it. 

Source: Osip Mandelstam, ‘Conversation about Dante’ (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011), p. 108

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

A world of possibilities

A world of possibilities

A hopeful view of the world, all the more poignant and precious as we witness repeated signs that 'some gang' or other is trying to put the world in a strait-jacket.   Let us preserve that sense of infinite (benign) possibilities.  But my world has become one of...

Didn’t get the memo (or the menu)

Didn’t get the memo (or the menu)

A wry comment by Steinbeck on his 1946 visit to Georgia, and the hotel in which he and Robert Capa stayed.  Apparently the food in Georgia is good, but their hotel wasn't aware of it. Georgian food is famous all over the Soviet Union, but our hotel had not heard much...

Pride of ownership

Pride of ownership

A funny and touching account of someone taking pride in ownership even to the annoyance of their companions. I was tired but found it difficult to sleep.  Abdul Haq left his transistor radio on all night.  All he got was a loud static hiss, but it showed everyone that...

Definitions of philosophy II

Definitions of philosophy II

I read and think quite a bit. However, when it comes to Western philosophy, it has always felt like a big brick wall in which I can't even find a door to knock on, let alone go in by.  Often when I try reading at a higher level than a children's guide, I am baffled in...

Street dogs

I love dogs and the towns owned by them, always feeling reassured when you see dogs confidently, busily and independently trotting about the streets, checking that all is in order....

A country or a farm

A profound distinction, in my view, between a sum of parts and a sum of gifts.  And does this just apply to a country or a farm?   Perhaps you could...

Wine and conveyor belts

There must be a good study of wine in European trade and war.   England’s sometime claim to half of France was curiously biased towards the finest wine-growing regions, until the...

An encounter with competence

One of the pleasures of reading Simon Winder, apart from his lightly worn, wit-woven erudition, is the passing comments regarding his failings and inadequacies, real or perceived. Here, he visits...

When does a world disappear?

When does a world disappear? When inequality goes too far.

Inequality seems much in the news these days, an apparently growing bane regardless of how well people are doing at...

Pebble pusher

Keats, known as a poet, was also one of history’s great letter writers.  He loved life and seized it even as it slipped away from him, embracing moments of joy centuries...

Zoo architecture

Always curious about the unwritten books people ponder, and I like Winder's quirkiness in noticing this obvious gap in the market. If anybody could write the definitive zoo architecture book,...

Daft and marginal

I liked this description of a region being 'daft-and-marginal' before splitting in two, with one half somehow managing to rule the world for a while.

This is from Simon Winder's...

Freedom pressed

This morning, freedom, currently under assault, occurred to me as a suitable theme to highlight, and I have gladly looked into the WritingRedux treasury to see what is there. 

Jane...

An island is loyal

Having a poetic love of the sea and a practical fear of it, the presence and faithfulness of land resonates.  Even when I have loved being at sea, on calm...

Joys unsung and untold

At winter's advent, a reminder of its beauty and magic.  May you be safe and warm within the stronghold. 

For another fine description of its harshness and splendour, see...

Thoughts on the physiology of reading

As conveyors of ideas and knowledge, books have a wondrous physicality to them, more individual the longer they are in circulation. I love the accretions of ownership in secondhand books...

A coral coinage

What an exuberant description of wild strawberries!  A coral coinage with the berries singing not only in batches, but in tune!

‘Once in Abkhazia I came upon whole streaks of...

Slaves to the sun?

While for the most part these twin sisters are nothing short of bonkers, I liked when one of them questioned the tyranny of time, speaking with splendid disregard for the...

Feisty boy fights back

Goncharov's description of Andrey as a little boy brings to life a robust, cheery, fearless little character.   Here he meets Michel, one of two visiting princes who behaves like a...

Tell stories, ask questions

David Boyle teases out the limitations of measurement and statistics in capturing the complexities of human happiness and well-being. I like his two healthy antidotes to numbers running riot to...

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