Collecting Quotations

I remember in high school being completely overwhelmed at the amount of reading my friends must have done.  They’d start papers and presentations with quotations from some of the world’s great thinkers.  Sure, I remembered John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you…” but that one only worked in a couple of humanities classes, and everybody had used it before me.  My own reading tastes at the time were not too impressive. Quoting from Dr. Seuss didn’t seem to fit the “this student is outstanding” requirement. I gave up.

Quotation Books shelf

No reference shelf is complete without quotations.

Finally, in college, I asked a friend how she got all her knowledge. I mean she was quite social and had a life, yet she quoted famous people everywhere.  She showed me something quite astounding–a book of quotations. How cool is that?

I have often turned to the quotation book for projects in marketing since. But there has always been a longing on my part to have my own collection of quotes from the reading I truly do.  I have tried to keep quotes in notebooks (which, of course, get lost), or in spreadsheets (but I’m not great with spreadsheets, and the quotes look cold and forlorn in one of those things), and then the obvious highlights in books (which, when you go to retrieve them, you can’t find the right one on the right page–grrr!)

So I’m asking: how do you collect quotes?  Am I doomed to running toward my latest Successories book each time I want to say something brilliant and succinct?

I saw something called “Evernote” in one recommendation, but when I went to that sight, it was a bunch of products.  Very cool products, but I can’t collect quotations with a new stylus for writing on an iPad.  And there’s a site called, which is much more what I’m looking for, but it’s a collection of everybody else’s favorite quotations, not just mine.

I’m thinking about using Pinterest, but that site is more visually oriented.  And Goodreads?  This is a great place to see what’s available for reading, and some of the reviews will have quotes in them, but there isn’t a place for me to collect my own quotes from books I’ve really, truly, honest-to-goodness, read.

I’m not one to give up easily on an idea I believe in, so I’ll keep looking.  But if you have a suggestion on how to collect great quotes while you actually read a book, I’d love to hear from you.

Now, I don’t want to end on a low note, so I have to tell you about a fantastic experience I had about a year ago.  I was at Left Coast Crime, and on a new author panel.  I’m used to moderators saying things like “here’s so-and-so, who’s written such-and-such, is a member of that writing group, and is so cool you must know her blah, blah, blah.”  But the moderator for this session was Catriona McPherson.  If you haven’t had a chance to read her Dandy Gilver mysteries, you must give them a try.  Great writing!

Catriona McPherson's book as well as my own.

An honored reading by a super author. Thank you, Catriona!

Anyway, Catriona emailed a month or two before the conference and asked me to send her an ARC (advanced reader copy) of my book.  I did. Heck, one more reader if nothing else, and one less ARC sitting around collecting dust and making me feel guilty for not pushing harder to “get known.”

At the conference, as Catriona introduced each of us authors, she read a passage from our books.  I have never been so thrilled.  Catriona is a wonderful reader and the passages she chose made each book sound like something that you’d buy in a heartbeat. When she came to me, I have to admit quaking a bit inside.  I hadn’t written anything so grand as the other panelists.  I felt like an impostor, a writing poser who should’ve stayed home to keep working at the craft, so one day I would be of quotable quality.

Then Catriona read this passage from Faith on the Rocks:

“Something about the solidness of books enveloping my sphere helps me relax. The worries of the world go away with the scent of pressed and printed papers, the intrigue of new titles, and the muffled atmosphere they create. Their words are fresh and vigorous as when they were first published, and they wait patiently for any who choose a life of adventure and knowledge. Books are such good friends.”

Oh my goodness! Did I write that?  I sat up in my chair a little straighter and looked forward to being in on the discussion after that.

Wishing you a great week full of wonderful words to read.

P.S. Daisy News: Faith on the Rocks is now out in large print! Whoo Hoo!  Please let your library know about this.


5 thoughts on “Collecting Quotations

  1. How wonderful to have your words read aloud and to hear them with fresh ears, to witness them being transformed and released into the world by a reader.

    when I was a teenager, I used to write my favorite quotations in a notebook. I so wish I still had that notebook today!

    • Letizia, I hope one day we meet in person. You sound like such a thoughtful and fun person. My condolences on the loss of your notebook! There are a few of these kind of items I miss too. Threw out my yearbooks in one fit of super-decluttering, and have often regretted that move. Wishing you well always.

      • I know those moments of super-decluttering too well. They feel so great at the time, but years later, one has regrets. Hopefully we’ll meet on one of your book tours in the future!

  2. Hi Liesa! Have you considered adding a tab to your website, just to collect quotes? I’m the type who thinks of a brilliant phrase too late to insert it in the conversation, while others are whipping off clever comments right and left. Guess that’s why I’m a writer, not a speaker.

    • Hi Catherine,

      What a cool idea! I’ll think about it. Like you, my brilliant comments come about an hour too late (often not for a week or so later–I’m truly slow). Keep writing, my friend. Wishing you well.

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