Collecting Words; Collecting Ourselves

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I am a hoarder. Of all kinds of things. My cupboards hold some of the most strange and innocuous  collections. This is a blog post was originally written for the National Year of Reading (i.e. 2012), and is to showcase a sample of a different kind of collection: my collection of quotes. I decided to revise it and post it again on my new blog, as it no longer appears on the blog it was created for.




 Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick


I can’t help myself; I can’t bear to just let them pass. I use a sheet of transparent post-it tabs as a book mark. Each time I read a sentence or a phrase that makes me stop and go ‘wow’, that moves something inside me, I add a tab. When I finish the book, I type them up in a spreadsheet. (Yes, I’m that kind of nerd.)



I think I got the idea from reading ‘Inkheart’ by Cornelia Funke. Each chapter is headed with the most wonderful quotes from classic children’s books. It was really something special, those quotes opened my eyes to the excavate-able gems that books hold.



I have a basic rule for the quotes, they need to make some kind of sense out of context. Sometimes I’m blown away by a sentence, but then I realise that if you haven’t read the book, then it doesn’t work so well. I leave those hidden for other readers to find them.



Reading, words, books: they offer so much insight into who we are as people.




Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


In a way I’m attracted to and fascinated by the way words have power over us.



Liesl & Po - Lauren Oliver


We crave stories. We always have. And books offer us the fuel for that (entirely healthy) addiction. (My next blog post will be about my addiction to ‘story’).




Doubleborn: The Flaxfield Quartet Volume III, Toby Forward

We read because we are constantly looking for reflections of ourselves or people we know, but seen in a new or different light. By reading about others, we discover ourselves.




The Left Hand Of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin


And we are given insight and understanding to others.



Liesl & Po, Lauren Oliver

I love those alternate points of view. I long ago learned through books that while my way of seeing things was entirely valid, it was not the only point of view in our world.



I’m always hungry for more.




 The Un-Forgotten Coat, Frank Cottrell Boyce

So where do I turn when I have questions about myself that need answering? Books. The stories within them are alive with every part of ourselves, collectively.




The Tale Of Desperaux, Kate DiCamillo

Sometimes, someone will write something that captures what I feel about my own story.



Life: An Exploded Diagram, Mal Peet
And in those creaking shelves lies the problem. Time. Where do we find the time?




The Rights Of The Reader, Daniel Pennac

 

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

But we make the time, don’t we? You’re making the time right now, aren’t you? We love the details. We love to know how and why and with who – and all the rest.



Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved, was not loved; and his life ended in disaster. This is the whole story and we might have left it at that had there not been profit and pleasure in the telling, and although there is plenty of space on a gravestone to contain, bound in moss, the abridged version of a man’s life, detail is always welcome.

- Vladimir Naboko; Laughter In The Dark



Which brings me to another driving force of my reading: I want to write. And what better way to find out how it’s done than to read what has already been written and that is particularly written well.



Writing is a strange business. You write a sentence and then you read it and one word leaps out at you. Or should that be jumps out at you? Or bothers you? And then you go over and over it, and by the evening you find you haven't written two thousand words at all. You've only managed a couple of sentences, and even they don't strike you as being quite right. So you start again and again, crossing out and crumpling the pages into balls and no matter how hard you try you never quite reach the two words you're most keen to write: THE END.

- Antony Horowitz; More Bloody Horowitz



I come across some fantastic writing advice in the prose of other writers.




Dragonkeeper Dragon Moon, Carole Wilkinson



A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness Jim Kay

 The Flint Heart, Katherine & John Paterson John Rocco

But stories have a life of their own. Both in the writing and the reading. They grow and develop in your imagination, changing depending on everything you’ve read or experienced up unto that point.




Doubleborn: The Flaxfield Quartet Volume III - Toby Forward

Stories will get us there in the end. Stories bring us together. I know I’m not the only one who thinks this. We acknowledge the myriad benefits of reading, from social to educational, emotional to economical, and everything in between. It’s a messy world out there; books help us make sense of it.




Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve


So I’ll go on collecting my quotes.




The Flint Heart, Katherine & John Paterson John Rocco



Trying to make sense of myself, of everyone else, and the wonderful world we live in.




Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick







You can follow my sporadic quote collection at my tumbr, HERE

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2 comments

  1. I love that you not only highlight them in the book, but then collect them into a spreadsheet :) (Do the sticky notes come out once you've recorded them?)

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    1. Most of the time they do come out, once they're in the spreadsheet. Occasionally, I will leave them in, but I like to re-discover them if I'm re-reading something. So mostly I recycle the tabs.
      Thanks for commenting! :)

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