People once kept commonplace books — personal, portable anthologies of favorite quotations. Today, the “Favorite Quotations” section on Facebook offers a brief, public version of the commonplace book. This practice has, I think, mostly faded. At any rate, here are ten quotations that would be in my commonplace book.
But, luckily, he kept his wits and his purple crayon.
— Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955)
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
— often attributed to Groucho Marx
Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don’t feel like doing them.
— Julius Erving, as quoted by David Halberstam, in Clyde Haberman, “David Halberstam, 73, Reporter and Author, Dies,” New York Times, 24 Apr. 2007
This is the life that I chose or, rather, the life that chose me.
— Jay-Z, “December 4th,” The Black Album (2003)
It’s like Duke Ellington said, there are only two kinds of music — good and bad. And you can tell when something is good.
— Ray Charles
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
— Noam Chomsky, Syntactic Structures (1957), p. 15
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
— Dr. Seuss, The Lorax (1971)
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
— Emily Dickinson, “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—” (c. 1868), in Final Harvest: Emily Dickinson’s Poems, ed. Thomas H. Johnson (1954), p. 248
— spoken by Joe E. Brown, Some Like It Hot (1959, dir. Billy Wilder), screenplay by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
— Leonard Cohen, “Anthem,” The Future (1992)
I do like resonant quotations. I think I will do a “commonplace book” post in the future featuring only quotations from children’s literature. I suspect that this has already been done on other children’s lit blogs, but of course commonplace books are personal, idiosyncratic endeavors. So, even if it’s been done before (and I’m sure it has been), my children’s literature commonplace book will at least be different, eh?