Quotable Discussions

Welcome to “Quotable Discussions”, a weekly dialogue about reading, among people who love books. Each Monday, I’ll post a quote, saying, or bit of wisdom about reading and the importance of books, and invite all of you to join in the discussion and share how the quote resonates in your own experiences. Reading is an individual and unique experience, and I never get tired of hearing how books have enriched the lives of the people I come in contact with. And for those of us who also write, our love of reading fuels what we create when we put pen to paper... or fingers to the keyboard! I hope you’ll join me, every Monday, for “Quotable Discussions”, and help spark the dialogue by sharing how and why reading has changed your life!
Today’s quote comes from Charles W. Eliot, the longest serving president in the history of Harvard University, who is also credited with turning Harvard into the premier research institution in the country. Here’s what he had to say about the importance of reading...
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends;
they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors,
and the most patient of teachers.”
~ Charles W. Eliot
Sometimes I feel moody... lonely for no apparent reason... irritated about things... or just a bit nostalgic. And my books always understand. Whether I pick up an old favorite, or my current reading material, I can always find exactly what I need. Encouragement. Compassion. Humor. Acceptance. A book is a safe place to let off steam and vent my frustrations, whether it’s a mystery suspense novel or a feel-good romance. Whatever emotional connection I need at that particular moment to balance out the rest of what’s going on in my head... it’s always there, inside the pages of a book. Which is why books are my constant friends, wise counselors, and patient teachers.
So what do you think about Mr. Eliot's quote? I can’t wait to hear from all of you!


  1. Since we moved from one military post to another the whole time I was growing up, books were my only friends a great deal of the time. I was an awkward, shy child and had trouble making friends easily. So---
    I love print books, but I fear they're on the way out. I love holding them in my hands, the smell of them, and being able to mull over every page and gleen every bit of knowledge I can from them.
    So the part of the quote about them being both councelor and teacher is certainly true for me.
    I so much enjoy your blogs.

  2. Thanks for the visit, Teresa... and for sharing your perspective. I love print books too, and I doubt they will ever be gone completely, but I do enjoy the convenience of e-reading. Living in a small town with no bookstore makes Kindle books attractive! I love your story about books being your friends during the constant moving around of your youth. I think those of us that discovered books at an early age each found something in them that we weren't getting through our regular social interaction! Thanks for stopping by!!

  3. Hi Amy! Nice post!

    I wholeheartedly agree with the first clause of Mr. Eliot's statement. Books have always been a great comfort to me and provided endless hours of companionship.

    As to the last portion of his statement, I can only assume he was speaking of books pertaining to academia. If so, then I also agree with that. If he was talking about books in general, then I would have to say that the counseling and lessons would only be as good or knowledgeable as the person who wrote them. Even so, I can't argue about the wealth of knowledge to be found in books. Much of what I know about the world has been learned through reading.

  4. Looking back, I have to say that books were a constant companion through school moves and friend changes. It was a cyclical relationship when it came to an educational influence though. I learned from books, but also often chose books based on what I had already learned, which in turn, taught more, and so on and so forth. I wish I could project the interactivity that books created in my life to my classroom students. Some get it, and some clearly don't.

  5. I know what you mean, Sherry, that you seek out books based on something you've learned, and then wind up learning more. I've often said one of the coolest things for me about reading is that I learn things and I don't even realize it, sometimes until much later, because I'm so busy being entertained by what I'm reading! It's something I wish everyone could grab hold of. And yes, like you, I wish I could articulate just how interactive reading can be to my students. It's difficult to convince middle school kids that their lives can be enriched by such a quite, calm activity! Thanks for stopping by... I hope you'll come back!

    Devon... agreed. I've learned more about the world and about cultures and various occupations and art and history through the reading of fiction books than I did in textbooks. I'm sure it's because (as I said to Sherry) when reading for entertainment, you often learn a LOT but don't even realize it! The companionship books offer is tremendous!

  6. Ahhhh what a wonderful quote. I get what he's say and it resonates.

    I don't think that we'll ever be a "book-less" society. As Teresa said earlier the tactile experience of reading a book is special. However, I do believe that newspapers and magazines are on the way out. That, I believe, is a good thing. It's far easier to download the Wall Sreet Journal in the morning, than to actually buy one, spill orange juice on it, and lose much of what it says...

    We're seeing lots of changes as video stores close down giving way to streaming services like Netflix and newpapers give way to digital devices... We see and experience change everywhere. I rather like it but knowing that I have a book either in my hands or on my iPad brings comfort to me in this rapidly changing world.