“A book is more than the sum of its materials. It is an artifact of the human mind and hand.”
“Book burnings. Always the forerunners. Heralds of the stake, the ovens, the mass graves.”
“...The hagaddah came to Sarajevo for a reason. It was here to test us, to see if there were people who could see that what united us was more than what divided us. That to be a human being matters more than to be a Jew or a Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox. p. 361”
“We were too intelligent, too cynical for war. Of course, you don't have to be stupid and primitive to die a stupid, primitive death.”
“I asked once, and the library assistant told me there were more than a hundred thousand books there, and more than sixty million pages of documents. It's a good number, I think: ten pages for every person who died. A kind of monument in paper for people who have no gravestones.”
“He saw his daughter as a kind-hearted, dutiful, but vaguely pitiable soul. David, like many people, had made the mistake of confusing 'meek' with 'weak.”
“I took the T from Logan airport to Harvard Square. I hate driving in Boston. It's the traffic that drives me spare, and the absolutely terrible manners of the motorists. Other New Englanders refer to Massachusetts drivers as "Massholes.”
“I had to remind myself that Islam had once swept north as far as the gates of Vienna; that when the haggadah had been made, the Muslims' vast empire was the bright light of the Dark Ages, the one place where science and poetry still flourished, where Jews, tortured and killed by Christians, could find a measure of peace.”
“You," he continued, grabbing my wrist. "All of you, from the safe world, with your air bags and your tamper-proof packaging and your fat-free diets. You are the superstitious ones. You convince yourself you can cheat death, and you are absolutely offended when you learn that you can't. You sat in your nice little flat all through our war and watched us, bleeding all over the TV news. And you thought, 'How awful!' and then you got up and made yourself another cup of gourmet coffee.”
“...the book has survived the same human disaster over and over again. Think about it. You've got a society where people tolerate difference, like Spain in the Convivencia, and everything's humming along: creative, prosperous. Then somehow this fear, this hate, this need to demonize 'the other'--it just sort of rears up and smashes the whole society. Inquisition, Nazis, extremist Serb nationalists...same old, same old.”
“Raz was one of those vanguard human beings of indeterminate ethnicity, the magnificent mutts that I hope we are all destined to become given another millennium of intermixing. His skin was a rich pecan color from his dad, who was part African American and part native Hawaiian. His hair, straight and glossy black, and the almond shape of his eyes came from his Japanese grandmother. But their color was the cool blue he'd inherited from his mum, a Swedish windsurfing champion.”
“Harvard Square could feel like a party on a warm night, full of energy and privilege and promise. Or it could seem like one of the bleakest places on earth--an icy, windswept rat maze where kids wasted their youth clawing over one another in a fatuous contest for credentials.”
“How was it that he could remember not remembering, and yet the fugitive facts themselves remained so elusive? How could he misplace the skills of a lifetime? Where did such knowledge go?”
“Christian worship of Jesus is an idolatry much worse than the Israelites’ worship of the golden calf, for the Christians err in saying something holy entered into a woman in that stinking place…full of faeces and urine, which emits discharge and menstrual blood and serves as a receptacle for men’s semen.”
“So, my good father, you go and write the order to burn that book, as your church requires of you. And I will say nothing to the printing house, as my conscience requires of me. Censura praevia or censura repressiva, the effect is the same. Either way, a book is destroyed. Better you do it than have us so intellectually enslaved that we do it for you.”
“There's a word a friend of mine coined for that feeble gesture we make as if we're going to hold the door, when in reality we've got no intention of it. He calls it "to elefain.”
“It went on from there. One last, god-awful, no-holds-barred blue; one of those fights where you pour out every poisonous thought you've ever had, the dregs of every grievance, and you set the cup in front of the other person and force them to drink it.”
“I don't see her anymore. We don't even go through the motions. Ozren had been right about one thing: some stories just don't have happy endings.”
“You sat in your nice little flat all through our war and watched us, bleeding all over the TV news. And you thought, ‘How awful!’ and then you got up and made yourself another cup of gourmet coffee.” I flinched when he said that. It was a pretty accurate description.”
“He did not turn. Embracing his sister, he stepped off the bank, onto the ice. He walked out into the centre, where the ice was thin. His sister’s head lay on his shoulder. They stood there for a moment, as the ice groaned and cracked. Then it gave way.”
“Josip had only an instant to exchange a glance with Serif. He made it the most eloquent glance of his life.”
“In any case, the manifesto states that a Jew is without honour from the day of his birth. That he cannot differentiate between what is dirty and what is clean. That he is ethically subhuman and dishonourable. It is therefore impossible to insult a Jew and from this it follows that a Jew cannot demand satisfaction for any insult.”
“The author of this text did not write to provoke, but merely to express a truth as he conceives it. Your own theologians have tied logic in knots to advance a doctrine addressing this very same point. What is the Virgin Birth, after all, but the fumbling of minds striving to deal with the indelicate realities of the body? We Jews are merely more forthright about such matters.”
“It did not even occur to David to consult Ruti herself about this, or any other matter. Had he done so, he would have been most surprised by the result. He did not realize it, but his love for his daughter marched hand in hand with a kind of contempt for her. He saw his daughter as a kind-hearteed, dutiful, but vaguely pitiable soul. David, like many people, had made the mistake of confusing "meek" with "weak.”
“You know that your church has always taken a view on these matters very different from ours, from the day that the first printing press was assembled. Your church did not want your holy scriptures in the hands of ordinary people. We felt differently. To us, printing was an avokat ha kodesh, a holy work. Some rabbis even likened the press to an altar. We call it 'writing with many pens' and saw it as furthering the spread of the word that began with Moses on Mount Sinai. So, my good father, you go and write the order to burn that book, as your church requires of you. And I will say nothing to the printing house, as my conscience requires of me. Censura praevia or censura repressiva, the effect is the same. Either way, a book is destroyed. Better you do it than have us so intellectually enslaved that we do it for you.”
“The snow light flared on brightness. Blue: intense as a midsummer sky, obtained from grinding precious lapis lazuli carried by camel caravan all the way from the mountains of Afghanistan.”
“When she thought of the letter beit, it was not of the thickness of lines or the exactitude of spaces. It was of mysteries: the number two, the dual; the house, the house of God on earth. 'They will build me a temple and I will dwell in them.' In them, not in it. He would dwell within her. She would be the house of God. The house of transcendence. Just a single, tiny letter, and in it, such a path to joy.”
“But some things on earth were possible, and some were not, and Ruti knew the difference.”
“There, where one burns books, one in the end burns men. —Heinrich Heine”
“Here he was holding the clear proof of the existence of other skies, but at the same time without having to ascend beyond the celestial spheres, for he intuited many worlds in a piece of coral. Was there any need to calculate the number of forms which the atoms of the Universe could create--burning at the stake all those who said their number was not finite--when it sufficed to meditate for years on one of these marine objects to realize how the deviation of a single atom, whether willed by God or prompted by Chance, could generate inconceivable Milky Ways?”
“He did not want them themselves really. They were too complicated. There was something else. Vaguely he wanted a girl but he did not want to have to work to get her. He would have liked to have a girl but he did not want to have to spend a long time getting her. He did not want to get into the intrigue and the politics. He did not want to have to do any courting. He did not want to tell any more lies. It wasn't worth it.”
“Royce saw to his horse’s needs; then, finding a suitable place, he unrolled his blanket and lay down.
“I take it we’re camping here, then?”
Royce said nothing, still refusing to acknowledge his existence.
“You could have said, ‘We’re going to bed down here for the rest of the night.’ No, wait, you’re right, too much. How about ‘sleeping here’? Two words. Even you could manage that, right? I mean, I know you can talk. You had plenty to say back in Arcadius’s office. Couldn’t keep the words from coming out then, but no, utterly impossible to indicate in any way that we’ll be stopping here for the night.”
Hadrian dismounted and began unloading Dancer. “How long were we on the road?” He paused to look up at the moon. “What? Five, six hours? Not a damn word. Getting chilly out, don’t you think, Hadrian? Moon looks like a fingernail, ain’t that right, Hadrian? That tree looks like a goddamn bear, don’t it, Hadrian? Nothing. By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, I was attacked by a goshawk and a pig-riding dwarf that shot eggs at me with a sling. I was knocked from my horse and wrestled with the dwarf, the hawk, and the pig for what had to be half an hour. The dwarf kept smashing eggs in my face, and that ruddy pig pinned me down, licking them off. I only got away because the dwarf ran out of eggs. Then the hawk turned into a moth that became distracted by the light of the moon.”
Royce shifted to his side, hood up.
“Yeah, well … thank Maribor and Novron I didn’t need your help that time.”
“Didn’t care for my help too much in the stable,” Royce said.
“I was relieved to find her attitude to myself suggested nothing more hostile than complete indifference.”
“Good God, what men can do to their brains when their cocks are hard. It is truly amazing.”
BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.
We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.
Founded in 2023, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.