This special search box searches the Commonplace Book for words or phrases, including words in quotations and in the names of authors. It is separate from the main website search box because it searches only the Commonplace Book.

Type the word or phrase you want to search for in the search box, and then hit ENTER. If you are searching for a phrase, remember to put the whole phrase in quotation marks. The search feature will show the beginning of each Commonplace Book page that contains the word or phrase searched for. Click the link at the end or each result where it says "Continue reading…" and scroll down until you see the word or phrase highlighted. There may be more than one hit on a page, and the search feature may have found hits on more than one page – scroll through to the bottom to be sure you have found them all.

Commonplace Book 6

You can observe a lot by watching.

Yogi Berra

I have no enthusiasm whatever about dying. I think it’s a terrible waste of time, and I don’t want to participate in it.

Edward Albee

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.

Gloria Steinem

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.

Albert Einstein

It is harrowing for me to try to teach 20-year-old students, who earnestly want to improve their writing. The best I can think to tell them is: Quit smoking, and observe posted speed limits. This will improve your odds of getting old enough to be wise.

Barbara Kingsolver (novelist)

I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.

Jerome K. Jerome

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

E. B. White

When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.

Hilaire Belloc

All science is either physics or stamp collecting.

Ernest Rutherford

Photography [is] a discret form of imperialism.

Bob Shacochis, Swimming in the Volcano (1993)

Tension gets in the way of mastery.

Paul Katz, while teaching a cello master class

The mind cannot absorb what the backside cannot endure.

The Duke of Edinburgh, to the Dean of Windsor, re length of sermons

You should always trust a man just as far as you must.

Colonel Sept, in The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope (1894)

It is the mark of an educated man, and a tribute to his culture, that he look for precision in a thing only as its nature allows.


Historical research as to begin somewhere; if nothing can be trusted, nothing can be known.

James Romm, Ghost on the Throne (on the sources for the conflict among the successors to Alexander)

If a man wants to quarel with all his friends, and to double the hatred of all his enemies, he had better become Prime Minister.

Glencora, Duchess of Omnium and wife of the Prime Minister, in Anthony Trollope’s The Prime Minister (1876).

My father was what is called a man of ideas, but they were not always good ideas.

H. G. Wells, The New Machiavelli (1911)

A reliable rule of literary reputations is that whatever your own time jeers at is the one thing that will prove most lasting in your work.

Adam Gopnik, in “As Big as the Ritz,” an essay about Scott Fitzgerald in The New Yorker, September 22, 2014

I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.

A. J. Liebling

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

Pablo Picasso

America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy.

John Updike

The Old Testament God repeatedly says he wants praise, and I translate that to mean that the world wants describing.

John Updike

Heraldry is a manifestation of cultural rather than legal history. [Das Wappenwesen is eine Erscheinung der Kultur-, nichts aber der Rechtsgeschichte.]

Freidrich Philippi (1853–1930)

He knew when to lift his hand from the picture.

Pliny the Elder (of Appelles the sculptor, 4C BC)