If you visit a used bookstore, you might stumble upon an often neglected section: miniature or compact books. A miniature book generally measures 3 by 4 inches; some are even smaller: 1.5 inches by 2 inches. A compact book, also known as an octodecimo in American Library Association lingo, generally measures 4 x 6 inches. Unfortunately, these types of books are often dismissed due to their small size. “If they are so small, how can they possibly matter?” you think to yourself. Astute book lovers, however, know that even little books can contain big ideas — profound thoughts that can change your life.
In my periodic visits to used bookstores, I recently came across such a thought-provoking little book: The Wit and Wisdom of Women edited by the editors of Running Press, published in1993. Founded in 1972 by Stuart and Larry Teacher, Running Press specialized in small books that could be purchased as gifts.
In the introduction of The Wit and Wisdom of Women, the editors write: “The book you hold is a celebration of women’s lives, at once funny, poignant, passionate, and irrepressibly joyful… Many of these women, bound by time, place, and circumstance, could not possibly have conversed during their lifetimes — but that doesn’t mean we can’t delight in a spirited dialogue of our own making… These unexpected meetings of the mind affirm the universal quality of experience.” Here are some inspiring quotes about writing:
“We rely upon the poets, the philosophers, and the playwrights to articulate what most of us can only feel, in joy or sorrow. They illuminate the thoughts for which we only grope; they give us the strength and balm we cannot find in ourselves. Whenever I feel my courage wavering, I rush to them. They give me the wisdom of acceptance, the will and resiliance to push on.”
From A Gift of Joy (1965) by Helen Hayes
“A thing is incredible, if ever, only after it is told — returned to the world it came out of.”
From the short story “No Place for You, My Love” (1952) by Eudora Welty
“We inherit a great responsibility as well for we must give voice to centuries not only of silent bitterness and hate but also of neighborly kindness and sustaining love.”
From The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970) by Alice Walker
“Although some use stories as entertainment alone, tales are, in their oldest sense, a healing art. Some are called to this healing art, and the best, to my lights, are those who have lain with the story and found all its matching parts inside themselves and its depth… In the best tellers I know, the stories grow out of their lives like roots grow a tree. The stories have grown them, from them into who they are.”
From Women Who Run with Wolves (1989) by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year. You make the path boldly and follow it fearfully. You go where the path leads. At the end of the path, you find a box canyon. You hammer out reports, dispatch bulletins. The writing has changed, in your hands, and in a twinkling, from an expression of your notions to an epistemological tool. The new place interests you because it is not clear. You attend. In your humility, you lay down the words carefully, watching all the angles. Now the earlier writing looks soft and careless. Process is nothing; erase your tracks. The path is not the work. I hope your tracks have grown over; I hope birds ate the crumbs; I hope you will toss it all and not look back.”
From The Writing Life (1989) by Annie Dillard
ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.
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