20 Thought-Provoking Quotes About Reading And Thinking


“He might be a very clever man by nature, for all I know, but he laid so many books upon his head that his brains could not move.” — Robert Hall, when asked whether he thought that Dr. Kippis was clever, The Works of Rev. Robert Hall, Vol. 3, 1860

The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read,
With loads of learned lumber in his head.

— Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism”, 1709, cited in The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, 1840

“To buy books would be a good thing if we also could buy the time to read them. As it is, the act of purchasing them is often mistaken for the assimilation and mastering of their content.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

“It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations — something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.” — Katherine Patterson

“The enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information, by throwing in the reader’s way piles of lumber, in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of useful matter, peradventure interspersed.” — Edgar Allan Poe, Southern Literary Messenger, Vol 2, October 1836

“Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired (by passionate devotion to them) produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can peradventure read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity […] we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access, reassurance.” — A. E. Newton

“The multitude of books is making us ignorant.” — Voltaire

“You read too much and understand too little.” — Robert Jordan

“The flood of print has turned reading into a process of gulping rather than savoring.” — Anon.

“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” — Francis Bacon

“Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, but to weigh and consider.” — Francis Bacon

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”
— Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind, 2001

“Those who have read about everything are thought to understand everything, too, but it is not always so; reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours. We are the ruminating kind, and it is not enough to cram ourselves with the great load of collections.” — John Locke, The Philosophical Works of John Locke, 1843

“To take Measures wholly from Books, without looking into Men and Business, is like Travelling in a Map, where though Countries and Cities are well enough distinguished, yet Villages and private Seats are either over-looked, or too generally marked for a Stranger to find. And therefore he that would be a Master, must draw by the Life as well as copy from Originals, and join Theory and Experience together.” — Jeremy Collier, Essays Upon Several Moral Subjects, Vol. 2, 1732

“Most men have learned to read to serve a paltry convenience, as they have learned to cipher in order to keep accounts and not be cheated in trade; but of reading as a noble intellectual exercise they know little or nothing.” — Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

“Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writing so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.” — Socrates

“I am always chilled and astonished by the would-be writers who ask me for advice and admit, quite blithely, that they “don’t have time to read.” This is like a guy starting up Mount Everest saying that he didn’t have time to buy any rope or pitons.” — Stephen King

Dear little child, this little book
Is less a primer than a key
To sunder gates where wonders wait
Your “Open Sesame!”

— Rupert Hughes, “With a First Reader”, cited in William Lyon Phelps, The Advance of the English Poetry in the Twentieth Century, 1918

“There are some people who read too much: the bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing.” — H. L. Mencken, cited in The Australian Library Journal, Vol. 20, July 1971

“Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking, just as the man who spends too much time in the theater is tempted to be content with living vicariously instead of living his own life.” — Albert Einstein, taken from an interview with G. S. Viereck, “What Life Means to Einstein”, Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

46 thoughts on “20 Thought-Provoking Quotes About Reading And Thinking

  1. Loved each and every one of them, especially the chewed and digested one! Can’t tell how you inspire people so much through these amazing posts. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post, I’m reblogging it a day after tomorrow!
    You seem like a super hero to me now 😀 who keeps on saving many book lovers and inspiring them to read more and more


  2. Thank you, it is very fascinating reading all these quotes. To some degree it tells us to live and learn from our own lives and not via the lives within the pages. A good balance seems to be in order and perhaps choice of books that stimulate the mind.
    The Einstein one tickled me as I talked to a friend yesterday who said they were going to the theatre. Oh, that is lovely, said I. To which the answer was, well we go a couple of times a week.
    I am sure they were thinking too. It does seem that it is exclusive addiction that is dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have heard many good arguments for judging a book by its cover and I agree with some of them. Personally though, I don’t bother to look at the cover that much as I’m more interested with the content. After skimming the book for some time, I could already determine whether I’d just skim the books further to search for little gems (if any), read it (in a casual manner), or read it more critically.

      If I judge books by their covers, I would have missed several great books.

      But since I also like to read old books, it’s expected that those books’ covers aren’t good.


      1. I share your interest in books and agree with your philosophy about them; I have a collection of books (more cookbooks than anything else) but have wall to wall books throughout my house and my BF, who passed away in 2011, created a library for my fiction and some of my presidential collection in half of the garage in 2010. We went from about 3000 sq feet of living space to 1500 in 2008–gave away hundreds (thousands?) of books, generally donated to the local friends of the Libraries in our area. Thanks much for your insight. – sandyscookbookchatter


  3. In my youth I read a lot of books, but have to admit that I have been very bad at reading books. My last book I bought was The Broker of John Grisham more than ten years ago. I have not yet opened it …

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My all-time favorite: “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” — Francis Bacon
    Thanks for sharing..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agreed about the Pope quote.

      I don’t think the writers are criticizing books and reading so much as the excess of sub-standard publications and the exchange of thinking with reading, done with the misguided perception that reading is the same as thinking, as Locke observed.

      The quotes all make good points. Some of them remind me of the kingdom of Laputa in Gulliver’s Travels, full of learned men who studied too much and applied too little.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I would’ve agreed with that fifteen years ago; but, now I think reading books… any books is essentially just for the act of reading for an extended period. In my opinion, it is a form of meditation where letters are read a words and turned to symbols and then to concepts…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True, true. I don’t mean to demean the “quality” of some book or other. The act of reading any work is beneficial, if not academic edification then at least for pleasure. I like what you said about reading being a form of meditation. Considering that I tuck myself away in my room with a book when my younger brothers are aggravating me, I agree with that.


      1. I have only read two of his books, “The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody” and “How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes”.

        I heard before that he had a lot of scrapbooks and journals full of jokes and ideas though I don’t know much about them…

        Liked by 1 person

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