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The Library Book The Library Book by Susan Orlean
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The Library Book Quotes Showing 1-30 of 217
“In Senegal, the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned. When I first heard the phrase, I didn’t understand it, but over time I came to realize it was perfect. Our minds and souls contain volumes inscribed by our experiences and emotions; each individual’s consciousness is a collection of memories we’ve cataloged and stored inside us, a private library of a life lived.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“The library is a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library’s simple unspoken promise: Here I am, please tell me your story; here is my story, please listen.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never lived.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“It wasn't that time stopped in the library. It was as if it were captured, collected here, and in all libraries -- and not only my time, my life, but all human time as well. In the library, time is dammed up--not just stopped but saved.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Writing a book, just like building a library, is an act of sheer defiance. It is a declaration that you believe in the persistence of memory.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“The library is a whispering post. You don't need to take a book off a shelf to know there is a voice inside that is waiting to speak to you, and behind that was someone who truly believed that if he or she spoke, someone would listen. It was that affirmation that always amazed me. Even the oddest, most peculiar book was written with that kind of courage -- the writer's belief that someone would find his or her book important to read. I was struck by how precious and foolish and brave that belief is, and how necessary, and how full of hope it is to collect these books and manuscripts and preserve them. It declares that stories matter, and so does every effort to create something that connects us to one another, and to our past, and to what is still to come.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“I have come to believe that books have souls—why else would I be so reluctant to throw one away?”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Destroying a library is a kind of terrorism. People think of libraries as the safest and most open places in society. Setting them on fire is like announcing that nothing, and nowhere, is safe.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“librarians should “read as a drunkard drinks or as a bird sings or a cat sleeps or a dog responds to an invitation to go walking, not from conscience or training, but because they’d rather do it than anything else in the world.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“The reading of the book was a journey. There was no need for souvenirs.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Books are a sort of cultural DNA, the code for who, as a society, we are, and what we know. All the wonders and failures, all the champions and villains, all the legends and ideas and revelations of a culture last forever in its books.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“The publicness of the public library is an increasingly rare commodity. It becomes harder all the time to think of places that welcome everyone and don’t charge any money for that warm embrace.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“In times of trouble, libraries are sanctuaries.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Every problem that society has, the library has, too, because the boundary between society and the library is porous; nothing good is kept out of the library, and nothing bad.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“People think that libraries are quiet, but they really aren’t. They rumble with voices and footsteps and a whole orchestral range of book-related noises—the snap of covers clapping shut; the breathy whisk of pages fanning open; the distinctive thunk of one book being stacked on another; the grumble of book carts in the corridors.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“There where one burns books, one in the end burns men.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Our minds and souls contain volumes inscribed by our experiences and emotions; each individual’s consciousness is a collection of memories we’ve cataloged and stored inside us, a private library of a life lived.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Libraries may embody our notion of permanence, but their patrons are always in flux. In truth, a library is as much a portal as it is a place—it is a transit point, a passage.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Public libraries in the United States outnumber McDonald’s; they outnumber retail bookstores two to one.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“The idea of being forgotten is terrifying. I fear not just that I, personally, will be forgotten, but that we are all doomed to being forgotten—that the sum of life is ultimately nothing; that we experience joy and disappointment and aches and delights and loss, make our little mark on the world, and then we vanish, and the mark is erased, and it is as if we never existed. If you gaze into that bleakness even for a moment, the sum of life becomes null and void, because if nothing lasts, nothing matters. It means that everything we experience unfolds without a pattern, and life is just a wild, random, baffling occurrence, a scattering of notes with no melody. But if something you learn or observe or imagine can be set down and saved, and if you can see your life reflected in previous lives, and can imagine it reflected in subsequent ones, you can begin to discover order and harmony. You know that you are a part of a larger story that has shape and purpose—a tangible, familiar past and a constantly refreshed future. We are all whispering in a tin can on a string, but we are heard, so we whisper the message into the next tin can and the next string. Writing a book, just like building a library, is an act of sheer defiance. It is a declaration that you believe in the persistence of memory. In Senegal, the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned. When I first heard the phrase, I didn’t understand it, but over time I came to realize it was perfect. Our minds and souls contain volumes inscribed by our experiences and emotions; each individual’s consciousness is a collection of memories we’ve cataloged and stored inside us, a private library of a life lived. It is something that no one else can entirely share, one that burns down and disappears when we die. But if you can take something from that internal collection and share it—with one person or with the larger world, on the page or in a story recited—it takes on a life of its own.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“It seems simple to define what a library is—namely, it is a storeroom of books. But the more time I spent at Central, the more I realized that a library is an intricate machine, a contraption of whirring gears. There were days when I came to the library and planted myself near the center of the main corridor and simply watched the whirl and throb of the place. Sometimes people ambled by, with no apparent destination. Some people marched crisply, full of purpose. Many were alone, some were in pairs; occasionally they traveled in a gaggle. People think that libraries are quiet, but they really aren't. They rumble with voices and footsteps and a whole orchestral range of book-related noises—the snap of covers clapping shut; the breathy whisk of pages fanning open; the distinctive thunk of one book being stacked on another; the grumble of book carts in the corridors.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Throughout her life, Warren published little tip sheets — 'Althea's Ways to Achieve Reading' — to encourage people to find time for books. She approved of fibbing if it gave you an additional opportunity read. 'The night you promised to go to dinner with the best friend of your foster aunt, just telephone that you have such a bad cold you're afraid she'll catch it,' she wrote in one of her tip sheets. 'Stay at home instead and gobble Lucy Gayheart in one gulp like a boa constrictor.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“books are the last things that any human being can afford to do without.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“I loved the fresh alkaline tang of new ink and paper, a smell that never emanated from a broken-in library book. I loved the crack of a newly flexed spine, and the way the brand-new pages almost felt damp, as if they were wet with creation.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“A book feels like a thing alive in this moment, and also alive in a continuum, from the moment the thoughts about it first percolated in the writer's mind to the moment it sprang from the printing press -- a lifeline that continues as someone sits with it and marvels over it, and it continues on, ...”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Taking books away from a culture is to take away its shared memory. It’s like taking away the ability to remember your dreams. Destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never lived.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“Libraries were a solace in the Depression. They were warm and dry and useful and free; they provided a place for people to be together in a desolate time. You could feel prosperous at the library. There was so much there, such an abundance, when everything else felt scant and ravaged, and you could take any of it home for free. Or you could just sit at a reading table and take it all in.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“The library is a prerequisite to let citizens make use of their right to information and freedom of speech. Free access to information is necessary in a democratic society, for open debate and creation of public opinion.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book
“On a library bookshelf, thought progresses in a way that is logical but also dumbfounding, mysterious, irresistible.”
Susan Orlean, The Library Book

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