Famous Quotes & Sayings

Michael Dirda Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Michael Dirda.

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Sometimes the very best of all summer books is a blank notebook. Get one big enough, and you can practice sketching the lemon slice in your drink or the hot lifeguard on the beach or the vista down the hill from your cabin. — Michael Dirda

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The world is a library of strange and wonderful books, and sometimes we just need to go prowling through the stacks. — Michael Dirda

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We learn best by placing our 'confidence in men and women whose examples invite us to love what they love'(Robert Wilken). — Michael Dirda

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As with a love affair, the battered heart needs time to recover from a good work of fiction. — Michael Dirda

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I suppose movie theaters are the churches of the modern age, where we gather reverently to worship the tinsel gods of Hollywood. — Michael Dirda

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I'm sometimes willing to put in vast, even inordinate amounts of time if I find a project that interests me. — Michael Dirda

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Some of us, alas, are destined to find our escapes in novels, not life. — Michael Dirda

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Neither my mom nor my dad ever bought me any comic books. Certainly not for Christmas. I suspect that doing so would have violated the Parents' Code. — Michael Dirda

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Young people looking for adventure fiction now generally turn to fantasy, but for those of a certain age, the spy thriller has long been the escape reading of choice. — Michael Dirda

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In my younger days, I used to visit record shops and covet boxed sets of Beethoven symphonies, Wagner operas, Bach cantatas, Mozart piano concertos. Only rarely was I able to find the money for such luxuries. — Michael Dirda

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Many people know that Shakespeare's dramatic 'canon' was established in 1623 by the publication of the so-called First Folio. That hefty volume contained thirty-six plays. — Michael Dirda

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I find that the Amazon comments often are exceptionally shrewd and insightful, so I'm not going to diss them. But you don't really have any guarantees that what you're reading wasn't written out of friendship or spite. — Michael Dirda

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Back in the 1950s and '60s, J. M. Barrie's 'Peter Pan' - starring Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard - was regularly aired on network television during the Christmas season. I must have seen it four or five times and remember, in particular, Ritchard's gloriously camp interpretation of Captain Hook. — Michael Dirda

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I'm nothing if not a literary hedonist. — Michael Dirda

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If you are given lined paper, write crosswise. At least occassionally. — Michael Dirda

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Near my desk, I keep a large plastic carton filled with fresh notebooks and stationery of various kinds, sizes, and qualities. — Michael Dirda

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To my mind, 'Dear Brutus' stands halfway between Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's 'Into the Woods'. Like them, it is a play about enchantment and disillusion, dreams and reality. — Michael Dirda

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I think of my own work as part of a decades-long conversation about books and reading with people I will mainly never meet. — Michael Dirda

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Books don't only furnish a room: they also make the best holiday gifts. — Michael Dirda

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Adventurous reading allows one to escape a little from the provincialities of one's home culture and the blinders of one's narrow self. — Michael Dirda

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Science fiction is, after all, the art of extrapolation. — Michael Dirda

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Once upon a time, I sat in my mother's lap as she turned the pages of Golden Books, and I gradually learned to read. — Michael Dirda

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I am something of an aficionado of thrift stores. In my youth, I regularly searched their shelves for old books. — Michael Dirda

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Order and surprise: these are two intertwined elements that make for any great library or collection. — Michael Dirda

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Summertime, and the reading is easy ... Well, maybe not easy, exactly, but July and August are hardly the months to start working your way through the works of Germanic philosophers. Save Hegel, Heidegger, and Husserl for the bleaker days of February. — Michael Dirda

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In truth, I'm not really a cat person. Seamus, the wonder dog, still deeply mourned by all who knew him, was just about the only pet I've ever really loved. — Michael Dirda

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In Madame Bovary Flaubert never allows anything to go on too long; he can suggest years of boredom in a paragraph, capture the essence of a character in a single conversational exchange, or show us the gulf between his soulful heroine and her dull-witted husband in a sentence (and one that, moreover, presages all Emma's later experience of men). ( ... ) This is one of the summits of prose art, and not to know such a masterpiece is to live a diminished life. — Michael Dirda

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Carl Barks was born in Merrill, Oregon, in 1901, grew up in a farming family, and eventually held a number of blue-collar jobs. He knew what it was to be poor and to work hard for a living. — Michael Dirda

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A personal library is a reflection of who you are and who you want to be, of what you value and what you desire, of how much you know and how much more you'd like to know. — Michael Dirda

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Throughout the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, Latin was the language of learning and international communication. But in the early modern period, it was gradually displaced by French. By the eighteenth century, all the world - or at least all of Europe - aspired to be Parisian. — Michael Dirda

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At any given moment, I've always assumed that nearly everyone around me was smarter than I was, more naturally gifted, quicker-witted, and probably capable of understanding Heidegger and Derrida. — Michael Dirda

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Whatever Kurt Vonnegut's ultimate status will be in the annals of literature, he was important to a lot of people right now. That's what most writers really care about. — Michael Dirda

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The savagery and power of Edith Wharton's ghost stories surprised me. — Michael Dirda

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Most scholarly books we read for the information or insight they contain. But some we return to simply for the pleasure of the author's company. — Michael Dirda

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Critics for established venues are vetted by editors; they usually demonstrate a certain objectivity; and they come with known backgrounds and specialized knowledge. — Michael Dirda

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When I come to visit my mom - every two or three months - I generally spend five or six hours with her each day. She's always immensely glad to see me, her eldest child, her only son. — Michael Dirda

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Long ago, I realized that my only talent - aside from the rugged good looks, of course, and the strange power I hold over elderly women - can be reduced to a single word: doggedness. — Michael Dirda

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When I talk to friends and editors about possible projects, especially about projects that might come with a significant cash advance, they usually suggest a biography. Sometimes I'm tempted, but the prospect of spending years researching and writing about someone else's life offends my vanity. — Michael Dirda

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I think the essence of [Kurt] Vonnegut's humanism lay in his emphasis on human kindness as, so to speak, our saving grace. — Michael Dirda

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What I enjoy about reviewing and writing for newspapers and periodicals is simply the chance to talk about all kinds of books and lots of them. — Michael Dirda

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Any man's death diminishes us, but when an artist passes away, we lose not just an island but an entire archipelago. — Michael Dirda

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Not all of E. Nesbit's children's books are fantasies, but even the most realistic somehow seem magical. In her holiday world, nobody ever goes to school, though all the kids know their English history, Greek myths, and classic tales of derring-do. — Michael Dirda

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While Napoleon believed his fortunes to be governed by destiny, his real genius lay in self-control and martial daring coupled with an indomitable will to power. — Michael Dirda

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I do think digital media encourages speed-reading, which can be fine if one is simply seeking information. But a serious novel or work of history or volume of poetry is an experience one should savor, take time over. — Michael Dirda

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A good rule of thumb is: Pack twice as many books as changes of underwear. — Michael Dirda

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The patient accretion of knowledge, the focusing of all one's energies on some problem in history or science, the dogged pursuit of excellence of whatever kind
these are right and proper ideals for life. — Michael Dirda

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Born in 1910, Wilfrid Thesiger spent his childhood in Ethiopia, or Abyssinia, as it was then called, where his father was an important and much-admired British official. — Michael Dirda

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Many readers simply can't stomach fantasy. They immediately picture elves with broadswords or mighty-thewed barbarians with battle axes, seeking the bejeweled Coronet of Obeisance ... (But) the best fantasies pull aside the velvet curtain of mere appearance ... In most instances, fantasy ultimately returns us to our own now re-enchanted world, reminding us that it is neither prosaic nor meaningless, and that how we live and what we do truly matters. — Michael Dirda

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A reviewer's lot is not always an easy one. I can remember flogging myself to finish Harold Brodkey's 'The Runaway Soul' despite the novel's consummate, unmitigated tedium. — Michael Dirda

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Deep in my cortex, the year is divided into reading seasons. The period from mid-October to Christmas, for instance, is 'ghost story' time, while Jane Austen and P. G. Wodehouse pretty much own April and May. — Michael Dirda

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I long ago ran out of bookshelf space and so, like a museum with its art, simply rotate my books from the boxes to the shelves and back again. — Michael Dirda

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Mentoring is the last refuge of the older artist. With luck, disciples will keep one's books in print, one's reputation alive. — Michael Dirda

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It's a sad commentary on our time - to use a phrase much favored by my late father - that people increasingly celebrate Christmas Day by going to the movies. — Michael Dirda

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I think that his [Kurt Vonnegut's] appeal, though, will always be chiefly to adolescents. His sense of the world matches that of young people, who feel deeply life's absurdity. — Michael Dirda

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I've always liked an easygoing, colloquial style. I like the kind of reviewer who is essentially a fellow reader, an enthusiast, a fan. — Michael Dirda

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Every summer, I regret that I didn't become a college teacher. Such a sweet life! With all that vacation time! You'll never get me to believe that being a tenured professor at a good college is anything but Heaven on earth. — Michael Dirda

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Make sure your message is clear, yet that you are faithful to its complexity. — Michael Dirda

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Some travelers collect souvenirs, postcards, or bumper stickers; I bring home a pencil from the various places I visit. — Michael Dirda

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Close friends, or those in my pay, sometimes call me a literary polymath, while others say that I'm just a shallow dilettante, superficial and breezy, with a faux-naif style. — Michael Dirda

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My wife tells me I should check out 'Downton Abbey', but I gather that series might be almost too intense for my temperate nature. — Michael Dirda

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I don't think of myself as a critic at all. I'm a reviewer and essayist. I mainly hope to share with others my pleasure in the books and authors I write about, though sometimes I do need to cavil and point out shortcomings. — Michael Dirda

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In a single lifetime, roughly from 1865 to 1930, one finds the pioneering and patterning works of modern fantasy, science fiction, children's literature and detective fiction, of modern adventure, mystery and romance. — Michael Dirda

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I have now and again tried to imagine the perfect environment, the ideal conditions for reading: A worn leather armchair on a rainy night? A hammock in a freshly mown backyard? A verandah overlooking the summer sea? Good choices, every one. But I have no doubt that they are all merely displacements, sentimental attempts to replicate the warmth and snugness of my mother's lap. — Michael Dirda

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I love the look of books published by the firm of Rupert Hart-Davis: They strike me as handsome, elegant, and inviting. I'll pick up almost anything with that imprint, especially if it's in a jacket or priced low. — Michael Dirda

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Like most people, I find watching the lazy and quiet underwater realm of a big aquarium exceptionally calming. — Michael Dirda

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I haven't read for pleasure in 35 years. I mean, I get a lot of pleasure from what I read ... For me, it's gotten so that it doesn't seem as though I've read a book unless I've written about it. It really seems the completion of the reading process. — Michael Dirda

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People sometimes think that I bring home all these old books because I'm addicted, that I'm no better than a hoarder with a houseful of crumbling newspapers. — Michael Dirda

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This Is Not a Novel memorializes the treasures and detritus of one man's singularly cultured mind. ( ... ) If you don't know Writer's work at all, try This Is Not a Novel. There may be some doubt about exactly what kind of book it is, but not that it's altogether wonderful. — Michael Dirda

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Nearly all the writing of our time is likely to disappear in a hundred years. Certainly most readers - and nearly all critics - feel that [Kurt] Vonnegut started to repeat himself, to grow increasingly self-indulgent and meandering, and to sometimes just blather in his later work. But his books up to "Slaughterhouse-Five" do possess a distinctiveness that will insure some kind of permanence, if only in the history of the 1960s and of science fiction. — Michael Dirda

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A job should bring enough for a worker and family to live on, but after that, self-realization, the exercise of one's gifts and talents, is what truly matters. — Michael Dirda

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Fiction is a house with many stately mansions, but also one in which it is wise, at least sometimes, to swing from the chandeliers. — Michael Dirda

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I've been slightly obsessed with paper and notebooks. Among my most precious possessions is a small light-blue, breviary-sized volume - four-and-a-half inches wide, seven inches tall - made by a company called Denbigh. — Michael Dirda

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. . the humanities encourage the development of our own humanity. They are our instruments of self-exploration. — Michael Dirda

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Best selling authors are always worth listening to, even if you choose to ignore their advice. — Michael Dirda

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Late summer is perfect for classic mysteries - think of Raymond Chandler's hot Santa Anas and Agatha Christie's Mediterranean resorts - while big ambitious works of nonfiction are best approached in September and early October, when we still feel energetic and the grass no longer needs to be cut. — Michael Dirda

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I didn't work for any newspapers in college, never worked for any newspaper before 'The Washington Post'. — Michael Dirda

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In classic noir fiction and film, it is always hot. Fans whirr in sweltering hotel rooms, sweat forms on a stranger's brow, the muggy air stifles - one can hardly breathe. Come nightfall, there is no relief, only the darkness that allows illicit lovers to meet, the trusted to betray, and murderers to act. — Michael Dirda

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Many cultures believe that on a certain day - Halloween, the Irish Samhain Eve, Mexico's 'Dia de los Muertos' - the veil between this world and the next is especially thin. — Michael Dirda

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Throughout history the exemplary teacher has never been just an instructor in a subject; he is nearly always its living advertisement. — Michael Dirda

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At 17, I traveled to Mexico in a lemon yellow Mustang and saved money by bunking down in cheap, cockroach-infested flophouses. In my early 20s, I went on to thumb rides through Europe, readily sleeping in train stations, my backpack as a pillow. Once I even hunkered down for a night on a sidewalk grate - for warmth - in Paris. — Michael Dirda

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My own particular feline companion answers, or rather doesn't answer, to Cinnamon. One of my kids must have given her the name, even though she's mostly gray and white. — Michael Dirda

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Basically, I think that most people either make too much money or not enough money. The jobs that are essential and important pay too little, and those that are essentially managerial pay far too much. — Michael Dirda

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To an Ohio boy, it represented world-weary Gallic shrugs and Gauloises cigarettes, existentialist thinkers in berets and Catherine Deneuve in nothing at all - French was the language of intellectual power and effortless sex appeal. — Michael Dirda

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[Kurt] Vonnegut was a writer whose great gift was that he always seemed to be talking directly to you. He wasn't writing, he wasn't showing off, he was just telling you, nobody else, what it was like, what it was all about. That intimacy made him beloved. We can admire the art of John Updike or Philip Roth, but we love Vonnegut. — Michael Dirda

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With the possible exception of steampunk aficionados, many reasonable people must view my fascination with Victorian and Edwardian popular fiction - mysteries, fantasy, and adventure - as eccentric or merely antiquarian. — Michael Dirda

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From the late 19th to the early 20th century, the December issue of almost any general-interest magazine regularly featured a holiday horror or two. — Michael Dirda

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Sad to say, multi-tasking is beyond me. I read one book at a time all the way through. If I'm reviewing the book, I have to write the review before I start reading any other book. I especially hate it when the phone rings and interrupts my train of thought. — Michael Dirda

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For those of us with an inward turn of mind, which is another name for melancholy introspection, the beginning of a new year inevitably leads to thoughts about both the future and the past. — Michael Dirda

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With concerted effort, I can follow written instructions, but don't ask me to simply grasp how to operate a smartphone. — Michael Dirda

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People who've read my reviews know my tastes, know how I approach a book, know my background. I can write with believable authority. It doesn't mean I'm always right. — Michael Dirda

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Most lyric poetry is about love, whether yearned after, fulfilled, or wistfully regretted; what isn't tends to consist of laments and cris du coeur over this, that, and the other. — Michael Dirda

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None of us, of course, will ever read all the books we'd like, but we can still make a stab at it. — Michael Dirda

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Literary generations come and go, and each generation passeth away and is heard of no more. In the end, simply the making itself - of poems and stories and essays - delivers the only reward a writer can be sure of. And, perhaps, the only one that matters. — Michael Dirda

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In 1911, Edgar Rice Burroughs, having failed at everything else, decided to write a novel. He was then in his mid-thirties, married with two children, barely supporting his family as the agent for a pencil-sharpener business. — Michael Dirda

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No matter how beautiful the paper, artwork, printing, and binding, I'm seldom drawn to a book unless it's by a writer I care about or on a subject that appeals to me. — Michael Dirda

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In PLATO AT THE GOOGLEPLEX, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein set out to showcase, in sometimes startling ways, the continuing relevance of a classic philosopher. But what's remarkable is that she actually brings off this tour de force with both madcap brilliance and commanding authority. — Michael Dirda

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I sometimes lie awake at night and try to imagine what would be the best period in history to spend one's seventy-odd years. — Michael Dirda

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For me, the two weeks between Christmas and Twelfth Night have come to be reserved for desultory reading. The pressure of the holiday is over, the weather outside is frightful, there are lots of leftovers to munch on, vacation hours are being used up. — Michael Dirda

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My gift, if that's not too grandiose a term, is one for describing novels, biographies, and works of history in such a way that people want to read them. — Michael Dirda

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In my own case, my folks didn't actually object to comics, as many parents did, but they pretty much felt the things were a waste of time. — Michael Dirda