Book conversations

All books are made from other books and so, in their way, all books are translations in one way or another.
— Kate Briggs, This Little Art

We are bricoleurs cobbling together and recombining found texts, without the possibility of immediate spontaneity.
— Jonathan Basile, Tar for Mortar

Since I first started reading, I know that I think in quotations and that I write with what others have written, and that I can have no other ambition than to reshuffle and rearrange.
— Alberto Manguel, Curiosity

For a writer everything is research, everything is material.
— Paul Maunder, The Wind at My Back

Before you become a writer you must first become a reader. Every hour spent reading is an hour spent learning to write; this continues to be true throughout a writer’s life.
— Robert Macfarlane, Landmarks

Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves.
— Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

For books continue each other, in spite of our habit of judging them separately.
— Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Literature does not occur in a vacuum. It cannot be a monologue. It has to be a conversation, and new people, new readers, need to be brought into the conversation too.
— Neil Gaiman, The View from the Cheap Seats

The questions manuscripts can answer face-to-face are sometimes unexpected, both about themselves and about the times in which they were made.
— Christopher de Hamel, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts

we tell the same fairytales, because the stories have migrated across borders as freely as birds.
— Katherine Rundell, Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise

History is made up of the stories we tell ourselves and each other. But whose stories are we talking about? What kind of stories create our history?
— Chin Li, ‘The Otherness of the World’

It matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what concepts we think to think other concepts with. It matters wherehow ouroboros swallows its tale, again.
— Donna Haraway, ‘Receiving Three Mochilas in Colombia’

Read bibliographies. It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to.
— Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

In the modern world, simple copying is a pejorative concept, especially when applied to literature and art. Writers and artists now strive instead for originality. Plagiarism is anathema. In medieval Europe, however, copying was admired. Artists were trained to imitate each other’s work. Inherited patterns and formulas were dutifully repeated without reference to reality.
— Christopher de Hamel, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts

Hip hop is an appropriation engine, an infinite assemblage machine. It sucks up whatever is placed in its path and reconfigures it – re-references it – making it part of its own circuits, its own organism.
— Will Ashon, Chamber Music

No image stands alone; each is related in straightforward or convoluted ways to other pictures.
— Teju Cole, Known and Strange Things

For books have a way of influencing each other. Fiction will be much the better for standing cheek by jowl with poetry and philosophy.
— Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

a lot of ideas currently in circulation are gifts that arrived recently, through the labors of others.
— Rebecca Solnit, Whose Story Is This?

Isn’t writing, and what I write, also a way of giving?
— Annie Ernaux, I Remain in Darkness

During the solitary months and years spent writing a book, it can be easy to forget that it will – if you are lucky – live a social life: that your book might enter the imaginations and memories of its readers and thrive there, that your book might be crammed into pockets or backpacks and carried up mountains or to foreign countries, or that your book might be given by one person to another.
— Robert Macfarlane, The Gifts of Reading

This connectedness to things is what we mean by meaning. The meaning of one thing is its connection with another; the meaning of our lives is their connection with something other than ourselves.
— Philip Pullman, Dæmon Voices

In the realm of cultural space as the twentieth century has conceived it, there are fields (language, culture, memory, texts) and paths (utterances, discourses, images, themes); and there are labyrinths or networks fusing and confusing the two (worlds, lives, books), embracing past, present and future, the collective ‘we’ and ‘they’ and the individual ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘s/he’.
— Gerald Martin, Journeys Through the Labyrinth

Things and people moved around me, taking positions in obscure hierarchies participating in systems I didn’t know about and never would. A complex network of objects and concepts. You live through certain things before you understand them. You can’t always take the analytical position.
— Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends

Life, after all, was mostly the art of salvage.
— Danielle McLaughlin, ‘Not Oleanders’

She wrote fiction, sure, but she populated it with the already extant, the pre-packaged and ready-made. She was in many ways Warhol’s daughter, niece at least, a grave-robber, a bandit, happy to snatch what she needed but also morally invested in the cause: that there was no need to invent, you could make anything from out of the overflowing midden of the already-done, the as Beckett put it nothing new, it was economic also stylish to help yourself to the grab bag of the actual.
— Olivia Laing, Crudo

A life’s work is not a series of stepping-stones, onto which we calmly place our feet, but more like an ocean crossing where there is no path, only a heading, a direction, in conversation with the elements. Looking back, we see the wake we have left as only a brief glimmering trace on the waters.
— David Whyte, Consolations