My third grade teacher, Mrs. Pierce, once reprimanded me for turning down the page of my book. She informed me that this was called “dog-earing” and it was very, very bad, on a par with wasting food at lunchtime and talking in the halls — two other crimes I had committed. Now I’m almost as old as Mrs. Pierce was then, and I can dog-ear my books anytime I want. If you borrow a book from me and there are lots of pages turned down, you know that this is a really good book filled with passages worth rereading and remembering.

In high school, one of my favorite English teachers, Mr. Regan, told us that “quote” is a verb and “quotation” is a noun. Mr. Regan, the co-author of our textbook, the English Competence Handbook, devoted an entire chapter to the proper use of “Quotations”. To the chagrin of English teachers everywhere, the word “quote” has become commonly used as a noun. Even the people in charge of websites devoted to cataloging quotes seem confused. One website calls itself The Quote Garden (“celebrating 17 years online”) but lists quotations in hundreds of categories, from “curmudgeonesque” to “ladybugs”.

Ever since I left Mrs. Pierce’s classroom,  I’ve dog-eared quite a few pages. Here are some of my favorite quotes (sorry, Mr. Regan!) about books and reading:

9780385531955When a book is a time machine, taking me back and sideways to other minds and times and cities and planets but mostly forward, forward to dinnertime, to when my mother would walk in the door and the unsympathetic girl would leave and I could re-emerge into my life, and it would be only the two of us again, my mother and me, and although I felt like I barely had her at least she was mine alone — who would give such magic away?
Holly LeCraw, The Half Brother

There is something called the rapture of the deep, and it refers to what happens when a deep-sea diver spends too much time at the bottom of the ocean and can’t tell which way is up. When he surfaces, he’s liable to have a condition called the bends, where the body can’t adapt to the oxygen levels in the atmosphere. All of this happens to me when I surface from a great book.
Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck

962ab117cc4ac2dd9054af8b597fde98At eight, Arthur was walking five miles every other Tuesday to Mrs. Robert J. Taylor’s in Glassville to borrow a book from her considerable collection of eighty-five volumes. He was Robinson Crusoe sneaking through the jungle, scouting for ambush. He was Gulliver negotiating the fleshy landscapes of the Brobdingnags. He was Ahab, substituting green moss boulders for the white whale and losing his leg a thousand times. For Arthur, the words gathered in waterfall thoughts that spilled off the page into the pools of imagination collecting in his head.
Christopher Scotton, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

Never did she find anything so difficult as to keep herself from losing her temper when she was suddenly disturbed while absorbed in a book. People who are fond of books know the feeling of irritation which sweeps over them at such a moment. The temptation to be unreasonable and snappish is one not easy to manage.
Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess

imgresSo Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.
Roald Dahl, Matilda

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

ZHer library would have been valuable to a bibliophile except she treated her books execrably. I would rarely open a volume that she had not desecrated by underlining her favorite sections with a ball-point pen. Once I had told her that I would rather see a museum bombed than a book underlined, but she dismissed my argument as mere sentimentality. She marked her books so that stunning images and ideas would not be lost to her.
Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

It was easy enough to write a sentence, but if you were going to create a work of art, the way Melville had, each sentence needed to fit perfectly with the one that preceded it, and the unwritten one that would follow. And each of those sentences needed to square with the ones on either side, so that three became five and five became seven, seven became nine, and whichever sentence he was writing became the slender fulcrum on which the whole precarious edifice depended. That sentence could contain anything, anything, and so it promised the kind of absolute freedom that, to Affenlight’s mind, belonged to the artist and the artist alone. And yet that sentence was also beholden to the book’s very first one, and its last unwritten one, and every sentence in between.
Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

9781410468895When I read a book, I want you to be reading it at the same time. I want to know what would Amelia think of it. I want you to be mine. I can promise you books and conversation and all my heart, Amy.
Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied LIfe of A.J. Fikry

I never deliberately learned to read, but somehow I had been wallowing illicitly in the daily papers. In the long hours of church — was it then that I learned? I could not remember not being able to read hymns. Now that I was compelled to think about it, reading was something that just came to me, as learning to fasten the seat of my union suit without looking around, or achieving two bows from snarl of shoelaces. I could not remember when the lines above Atticus’s moving finger separated into words, but I had stared at them all the evenings in my memory . . . Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved reading. One does not love breathing.
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Do you turn down pages, highlight, underline, or use Post-It notes to remember favorite passages?

For more inspiring and thought-provoking literary quotes, check out The Broke and the Bookish, host of Top 10 Tuesday.



11 thoughts on “Dog-Eared Pages: 10 Quotes I Love

  1. Whether quotes or quotations, I love your choices and your blog! Loved the post on HHI where my parents lived for 25 years – ah beach reading. I always spy and always people are reading the same three or four current favorites. Must drive a bookseller crazy. How about a rant on “gifting” which seems to have replaced “giving?” Keep dog-earing, please.

  2. I don’t dog-ear or underline. I usually don’t have Post-Its handy so I tear off little bits of paper that fall out too easily while reading! (an inefficient system, for sure) I enjoyed your quotations, and think people say “quotes” instead because it’s shorter and punchier. We’re all too influenced by marketers and advertising!

  3. I love how you included all quotes about books and reading. And, I loved your tidbit about the word “quote”…I never thought of it that way. And – that Prince of Tides quote is fantastic…I’m sort of sad I didn’t get a Conroy quote onto my list…mostly out of laziness 🙂 And, every quote of his I had at the ready was heartbreaking, not inspiring!

  4. I’ve never been good at marking books, but I do use the underline and highlight feature on my Kindle. I’m not sure if that counts in quite the same way.

    I don’t like dogearing books though. I prefer a bookmark.

    You’ve got some great quotes here. 🙂

  5. Some great quotes especially Prince of Tides. I feel a bit guilty if I underline in books. I’m hesitant to do it b/c of the next reader. But if I could, I’d underline all the time. It helps to draw them to memory!

  6. I completeley agree with you that dog-earing, marking pages, etc. should be viewed as a sign of respect for the book and author. I’m sure Mrs.Pierce loved having a precocious and voracious reader in her class!

  7. Lovely quotes, all of them! I especially love the passage from A Little Princess — I can absolutely relate to that one!

  8. Excellent passages; especially Lamott, Dahl and Conroy! As for your question, I rarely highlight, but do use Post-It notes and then copy down passages/quotations into a commonplace journal. One book did highlight : Women Who Run with Wolves by CP Estes.

  9. Such great quotations from so many of my favorite books!

    I’ve never been able to shrug off the being told not to dog-ear pages so I used to either use bits of paper or go so far as to transcribe the quote in a notebook I kept for that purpose. Which is probably long gone. Now that I read to review I use post-it flags and re-use them until all the sticky is gone (a thrifty librarian at heart!).

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