Friday, November 9, 2012

Quote Sites, Pro and Con

"It's such a pleasure to write down splendid words - almost as though one were inventing them."
~ Rupert Hart-Davis

There's nothing quite like an especially delicious quote to lead off an article, book or blog entry, or sum up a good point. When I was young I used to collect them like butterflies. When I was reading and something jumped out at me, I would capture it in my notebook, pin it there and over the years revisit it from time to time. I also kept a card catalog with 3 x 5 cards on which I wrote notes and quotes from my readings.

Sometimes it was the direct quote that I wished to preserve, but other times it was the idea behind the observation. All of these have been part of my life over the past several decades. And even though websites that collect quotes and share them are really useful, I half miss the old way of collecting quotes. The old way was to actually read the books. Not that I've quite reading, but the habit has changed to underlining, which is not quite the same.

The positive side of these quote sites, and they are legion, is that with a Google search you can get a quote on nearly any subject under the sun. BrainyQuote.com, Wisdomquotes.com and QuotationsBook.com all showed up when I Googled "quotes on advice" just now, with Goodreads.com's quote page heading the list. In an instant you have lists of quotes that fill the bill for nearly any occasion.

But here's the downside, in my opinion. It's sort of like radio playlists or greatest hits albums. Someone else picked their favorites and that's your full selection. Many of the same quotes move into this list and that list, but what about all the other witty or wise things people wrote and said?

For Beatles fans, every song is classic. But I doubt most of their material is being played anywhere on a daily basis except maybe a dedicated XM Radio station, if there is one. I want the B-sides of all their hits as well. Dylan fans are lucky because John Bushey's Highway 61 Revisited radio program not only gives us the recorded material, we get the outtakes and concerts from all over the world. You can catch him locally on KUMD, Saturday's a 5:00 or streaming on the web.

Another issue with quote sites for some people, though not so much for me, is that they can potentially foster a certain pseudo-intellectualism when people throw down quotes from Solzhenitsyn, Kafka or Proust as if they've read all these volumes. Then again, grabbing a quote from a website is so commonplace now that no one suspects that we've actually read any of these things anymore anyways.

Oh well.... all this to say reading is a good thing, and here are a few quotes from a quote site on that matter. Hope you've got some good reading materials lined up for the winter. And if you collect them in your Kindle, Nook or other digital spaces, feel free to add a couple of my own, my favorite perhaps being Unremembered Histories.

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. ~ Ray Bradbury

The mere brute pleasure of reading --the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing. ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

A room without books is like a body without a soul. ~ Marcus T. Cicero 

Be well, and enjoy the weekend.

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