Something Old, Something New

You can find all the new ideas in the old books; only there you will find them balanced, kept in their place, and sometimes contradicted and overcome by other and better ideas. The great writers did not neglect a fad because they had not thought of it, but because they had thought of it and of all the answers to it as well.

G. K. Chesterton, The Common Man

Say That Again

Of the making of many books there is no end, and in much study there is weariness for the flesh.

Qoheleth, Ecclesiastes 12:12b (nab)

Read It Again

I can't imagine … really enjoying a book and reading it only once. … Clearly one must read every good book at least once every ten years.

The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves

Book Budget

When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.

ERASMUS, quoted at

Substance Trumps Style

Nothing so improves the style [of writing] as having something to say.

Aristides, The American Scholar

Miserable Soul

I consider a room without reading to be a hell without consolation, an instrument of torture without relief, a prison without light, a tomb without ventilation, a ditch swarming with worms, a strangling noose, the empty house of which the Gospel speaks.

Peter Of Celle, On Affliction and Reading

The Truth About Reading

Reading ought to be an act of homage to the God of all truth. We open our hearts to words that reflect the reality He has created or the greater Reality which He is. … Christ, the Incarnate Word, is the Book of Life in Whom we read God.

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

Dying Art

Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon?

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Writers As Leaders

Writing is the handmaiden of leadership. Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill rode to glory on the back of a strong declarative sentence.

William Zinsser, Writing to Learn

Not Saved by Writing

No words of mine would ever measure up to the literature that had nurtured my own life. I could not be content with [my writing]. I had yet to learn that we are not justified by the perfect work.

Elizabeth O'connor, Cry Pain, Cry Hope

May I Have This Dance?

Cultures are always dancing with denial. Writers tap us on the shoulder and say, "May I cut in?"

Susan Shaughnessy, Walking on Alligators


I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.

Augustine, quoted in Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion

Dumb and Smarter

There are … two kinds of writers: smart ones and dumb ones. The smart kind write what they know. The dumb kind write in order to know. I am one of the dumb ones.

Lewis B. Smedes, Theology, News, and Notes

Born Writer

When I was born, my mother asked the midwife, "Is it a boy or a girl?" And the midwife said, "Neither; it's a writer."

Isaac B. Singer, The New York Times

The Medium Isn't the Message

Marshall McLuhan said the printed word is "obsolete." To prove it he wrote fifteen books.

Saturday Review

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