True, the internet is awash with great writing and reading quotations. Funny, harsh, witty, practical, ironic, thought-provoking, inspiring… the same list that could apply to good writing and good reading themselves.
Good reading? Oh yes, we all appreciate the great Goodreads community, itself full of quotations submitted by readers. Remember, though, that for words to be ‘good’, the reader has to be ‘good’, skilled, creative and imaginative:
“After all, reading is arguably a far more creative and imaginative process than writing; when the reader creates emotion in their head, or the colors of the sky during the setting sun, or the smell of a warm summer’s breeze on their face, they should reserve as much praise for themselves as they do for the writer – perhaps more.”
― Jasper Fforde, The Well of Lost Plots
Just as we’re always improving our writing, so too we are learning how better to read. The two are inseparable. Quotations from readers and writers are one aid here. A single quote can startle us into awareness. It can inspire us, encourage us when we are down, provide practical advice such as Stephen King’s reminder that the road to Hell is paved with adverbs.
I love books of quotations. My latest one is Kimberly Coleman’s great collection, a companion for life. Beautifully produced and a treasure to hold, it’s nourishment for the soul.
The earliest anthology – more of longer extracts – is one my mother had. Victor Gollancz’ From Darkness to Light. This is primarily a ‘confession of Christian faith’ which is not why I value it. It’s extremely eclectic, and Gollancz’ commitment to socialism and humanism shine through. In my journey from teenage to decrepitude it has led me to writers I would never have otherwise found. You may be lucky enough to find it secondhand.
While it is lovely to have physical books close by, books that become dog-eared and worn with intimate handling, it is an inspiration too to witness the energy and enthusiasm of those writers and readers who work hard to share their joy of reading and writing. Not for recognition or any other reward, but for what can only be called Love.