I just fell down a rabbit hole on the internet. I was looking up a book for my son on Goodreads. An article in The Boston Globe had recommended it for teenage boys and since it was written in the 1940s and I like older books I meandered on over to Goodreads to check it out. The book is The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson. I quickly decided my son might like it (Vikings! Wars at sea! Treasure!) and was ready to move on when I got sucked in by the quote section. Now, I don't have a Goodreads account and I only use it to read reviews every now and then so I have never really paid any attention to this but I randomly punched in Robert Frost and well, that was an hour ago and I now have a selection of quotes I love. And, since I seem completely incapable of discovering words I like without sharing them on here, today's post is a random selection of quotes mostly from books I haven't even read yet. Yes, I will do something about that.
First up is Robert Frost. I only thought of him as a poet but apparently he wrote about writing as well. I liked this.
The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader. I know people who read without hearing the sentence sounds and they were the fastest readers. Eye readers we call them. They get the meaning by glances. But they are bad readers because they miss the best part of what a good writer puts into his work.
I am guilty of occasionally being an eye reader. Some books just lend themselves to that; the cozy mystery, the light romance. Not that there is anything wrong with these types of books, they just don't invite you to lay down the book and contemplate the wonders of the language. The problem is when we apply the same reading methods to books that do have more to say. I sometimes need to make myself slow down and appreciate the way a book is written as well as the story it is telling.
Next is a quote from E. B. White.
A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people-people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.
I think that possibly E. B. White and I could have been friends. He also said this.
Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth...Children are game for anything. I throw them hard words and they backhand them across the net.
Do you see what I mean? We absolutely would have been friends. I get so irritated by the idea that children have to be coddled in their book choices. Let them read. Let them try hard books. Let them be overwhelmed. Let them not understand. Let them rise to the book. They will.
And finally, a quote from William Zinsser. I read a collection of his essays a few months ago and greatly enjoyed his style.
Readers must be given room to bring their own emotions to a piece so crammed with emotional content; the writer must tenaciously resist explaining why the material is so moving.
Yes. Yes! This exactly. This is why I had issues with East of Eden. I felt like I was constantly being told how I should react and how I should feel about the story. No. Let me feel things on my own. William Zinsser wrote a famous writing manual called On Writing Well. I will definitely by buying a copy if this is the type of thing he has to say.
I used to own a giant compilation of famous quotations. Actually, I could still own it. It is probably just lost in the depths of my attic. I enjoy flipping through and reading bits and pieces. It gives you a taste of different authors and the thought provoking things they said. And sometimes that leads you down a rabbit hole that ends in a whole new reading list.