Ask NYPL gets a lot of questions about the sidewalk on Library Way. If you haven't seen it before, on your next trip to the main building on Fifth Avenue, be sure to approach from the east and walk along 41st Street. You'll have a perfect view of the building gleaming in the morning sun, and you can stop to read some inspirational quotes about reading, writing, and literature along the way.
Because when I read, I don't really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.
For all books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time. Mark this distinction—it is not one of quality only. It is not merely the bad book that does not last, and the good one that does. It is a distinction of species. There are good books for the hour, and good ones for all time; bad books for the hour, and bad ones for all time.
In the reading room in the New York Public Library
All sorts of souls were bent over silence reading the past,
Or the present, or maybe it was the future, patrons
Devoted to silence and the flowering of the imagination...
All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.
There was something about the vibrating empty rooms first thing in the morning — light falling through the great tall windows, the sun burning the smooth tops of the golden tables as if they had been freshly painted — that me restless with the need to grab up every book, press into every single mind right there on the open shelves.
...At the end of an hour we saw a far-away town sleeping in a valley by a winding river; and beyond it on a hill, a vast gray fortress, with towers and turrets, the first I had ever seen out of a picture.
Dr. Rieux resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague stricken people; so that some memorial of the injustice and outrage done them might endure; and to state quite simply what we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.
Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.
Now, on my heart's page
there is no grid to guide my hand,
no character to trace,
only the moisture,
the ink blue dew
that has dripped from
To spread it I
can't use a pen,
I can't use a writing brush,
can only use my life's
to make a single line of
marks worth puzzling over.
A poem doesn't do everything for you.
You are supposed to go on with your thinking.
You are supposed to enrich
the other person's poem with your extensions,
your uniquely personal understandings,
thus making the poem serve you.
Vladimer: What do they say?
Estragon: They talk about their lives.
Vladimer: To have lived is not enough for them.
Estragon: They have to talk about it.
Vladimer: To be dead is not enough for them.
Estragon: It is not sufficient.