Newsletter 1

Keeping Quotes: The Story of my Quote Wall

I don’t know how it started, but by the time I graduated high school, the quote wall had grown to take up literally my entire wall around my computer desk.

See, some people collect seashells or buttons or stamps or other trivial little things. I collect quotes.

When I was in middle school, my request at Christmas was for Bartlett’s Book of Quotations, which I got (and it’s gigantic) and readily devoured (okay, not all of it, because there are, like, a thousand pages of quotes in there).

I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.

—Marlene Dietrich

As a reader and a writer, the quote wall was important to me. I had a few categories of quotes:

  • One category included things I’d overheard. Most were from people walking down my street and talking loudly, or people standing behind me on the lunch line. I would write it on a bright sticky note and then affix it to my wall.
  • There were also quotes from my friends. Some of my friends just wrote their own quotes on sticky notes and put them up.
  • Others were things people had said in class. Funny, poignant, strange, it all was worthy of collection.
  • And of course, I also had quotes from books, and the authors of those books.

I don’t do a lot of marginalia—writing in books has never really been my style. But sometimes, if something really catches my eye, it’ll make it onto my quote wall.

I’ve written down and captured quotes from everyone from Oscar Wilde to Miss Piggy to Lin-Manuel Miranda (to Lin-Manuel Miranda as quoted by my high school drama teacher) to Ellen DeGeneres and Gertrude Stein.

“But she finds it so difficult to verbalize, Charles dear. It helps her if she can quote instead of working out words of her own.” —Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Like Mrs. Who in A Wrinkle in Time, sometimes I feel that it’s difficult to put things into words. And what use is there, when someone else already has? (Okay, maybe that’s a bad thing for a writer to say, hang on, let me revise that). Sometimes it’s nice to be validated and to know that someone else has had the same thoughts as you, that, comfortingly, you’re not as revolutionary as you thought you were. Or, vice-versa, perhaps.

The quote wall has since been dismantled (apparently putting it on a wall near windows wasn’t the greatest idea if I wanted it to have any sort of permanence). It now resides in a commonplace notebook I started. That’s better anyway—it’s portable.

Do you have a way of keeping all your favorite quotes together? Find all of Book Riot’s favorite quotes here.