Yale Book of Quotations Review – A Joy to Peruse

For as long as we can remember, we’ve been under the spell of eloquent writers and speakers.

And Bartlett’s was our vade mecum, a book we repeatedly borrowed from our local library.

On good days and on bad days, we dipped into the heavy tome to great delight.

So when we saw favorable reviews of the Yale Book of Quotations a few years ago, we promptly decided to plonk down some $$ for the book.

And not one moment over the last couple of years have we regretted shelling out $50 for this 1,067-page tome.

Politicians, writers, sports figures, movie stars, religious leaders, criminals, freedom-fighters, artists and an endless array of colorful characters enliven these pages with their witty, profound, sad and sometimes, even, silly sayings.

The book is littered with quote-gems.

Here are a few of them:

Henry Miller:
U.S. writer

Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant.

Lord Chesterfield:
On sex

The pleasure is momentary, the position is ridiculous, and the expense is damnable.

Mae West:
Hollywood actress

Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

It’s not the men in my life that counts – it’s the life in my men.

When I’m good, I’m very, very good. But when I’m bad, I’m better.

Helen Gurley Brown:
U.S. journalist

Good girls go to heaven – bad girls go everywhere.

John Fortescue:
English judge ca. 1394-ca.1476

I should, indeed, prefer twenty guilty men to escape death through mercy, than one innocent to be condemned unjustly.

Mahatma Gandhi:

We must be the change we wish to see in the world.

Arthur Twining Hadley:
U.S. economist and university president

You can always tell a Harvard man when you see him, but you can’t tell him much.

Nathan Hale:
Colonial U.S. revolutionary hero before mounting the gallows

I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.

Rabindranath Tagore:

Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand
With a grip that kills it.

Bill Gates:
The software moghul is supposed to have said this but denies ever making this remark. Well, who wouldn’t. 😉

640K ought to be enough for anybody.

Bill Clinton:
Former U.S. President

I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.

I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.

Jane Austen:
English novelist

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

George W. Bush:
Former U.S. President

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

Yoko Yono:
Widow of Beatles singer John Lennon

Woman is the nigger of the world.

Pearl S.Buck:
U.S. novelist

It is better to be first with an ugly woman than the hundredth with a beauty.

Few Indians – Not Surprising
Of course, there are not many quotes from Indians in this fine volume.

But that’s hardly surprising. Since when have Indians said, written or done anything interesting. Rarely, indeed.

Alas, since we purchased this book some two years back (i.e. before Barack Obama moved into the White house), there’s only one quote from our President. Nothing sexy too.

By the way, the book is organized alphabetically by individuals although the back of the book has a keyword/subject index.

Folks, we can’t too strongly recommend the Yale Book of Quotations (edited by Fred R.Shapiro).

You can get a new copy for about $34 on Amazon or pick up a used one for much less on Half.com or eBay.

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