Everybody loves quotes – a look at a bad, a good, and an amazing book of quotes

The title of this post may not be entirely accurate – I have come across the occasional person who doesn’t like quotes, but for the most part I think the statement holds true. As a result, there have been many books full of quotes published over the years, all with varying levels of quality. Many of these books tend to contain the same tired old quotes, while only a few are more comprehensive, and try that bit harder to impress the reader.

I plan on looking at three books of quotes – the first one is overwhelmingly mediocre, the second one is quite decent and comprehensive, and the third one is just amazing. In all three cases I’ll explain my thoughts as I go.

Caustic Quotes: An A-Z of quotes, insults and one-liners by Helen Ingram

At first glance, this book seems quite good. The back boasts that the book contains over 8000 quotes on 160 different subjects, all fully indexed, which certainly seems like a comprehensive quote book. But when you open it up, it quickly becomes apparent that some important aspects are missing. Firstly, none of the quotes are referenced to their original author – I know that sometimes it is hard to track down the author of a quote that has been passed down through the decades or centuries, but surely most of these quotes could be traced back to their authors? Secondly, the quotes themselves are pretty rubbish. They’re not of the quality one would expect, but rather the kind of quotes you see on bumper stickers, quotes that are supposed to be funny but just make you wrinkle your eyebrows while you wait for the laugh to kick in, only to find it never does. Unfunny and uninspiring – don’t go wasting your money on this one.

The Funniest Thing You Never Said: The Ultimate Collection of Humorous Quotations by Rosemarie Jarski

This book is a dramatic improvement, and was probably the best quotes book I owned for quite a long time. Again, it boasts about 6000 quotes, but this time the quotes are much funnier, and while many have been heard before, there are a few in there that surprised me, too. But perhaps more importantly, every quote in this book is properly referenced, and the contents are organised into topics while the index focuses on the authors, so you can look up your favourite authors, comedians, actors, and so on, and track all the quotes included by them (some of whom feature dozens of times in this book). This is definitely a good book for quotes, and perhaps sets a pretty solid standard on which to compare other quote books against.

QI Advanced Banter: The QI Book of Quotations by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson

Those of you who have seen the television show QI or read their other book The Book of General Ignorance (which you can read about in an earlier blog post here) will probably already know what to expect of this book. Rather than just collect any old quotes, the authors painstakingly spent years gathering their favourite quotes and pieces of witty banter, and then cut most of it out so that they were left with the absolute best witticisms for this book, many of which are not contained in other books. The quotes are hilarious, intelligent, thought provoking and at times inspiring, and the indexing in this book is the most detailed I’ve seen, with brief explanations of what each author of each quote does for a living, to help put some of them into context. The book also contains the usual prologues by Stephen Fry and Alan Davies, both known from the television show, as well as a preamble by the book’s authors. Quite simply, this is the only book of quotes you will ever need. If you like quotes, buy this book, as you will not be disappointed.

It is really only fitting then that I end this post with a quote, I suppose. For a bit of fun, I will write down the first quote I find when randomly opening up QI Advanced Banter. I promise I won’t cheat.

Ahhh, interesting. Here goes.

“Poets have hitherto been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” G. K. Chesterton

11 thoughts on “Everybody loves quotes – a look at a bad, a good, and an amazing book of quotes

    • Haha, the QI Advanced Banter book definitely is great, and highly entertaining. I really did just open the book up, randomly point my finger, and that’s what I found. But all the quotes are very interesting. 🙂

  1. I love reading your blog and want to give you the ABC (Awesome Blog Content) Award. If you wish to accept it, please drop by to grab the award photo to put on your page. 🙂

  2. Quote books are something I should pay greater attention to, not just for the fact that they present enlightening nuggets of information about anything, but because they entertain probably as much as any short story, poem or novel would.

    That said, besides this book I own containing the words of famous Spanish speaking authors, my only contact with quotes has been the unbelievable trash talking of Winston Churchill, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. I guess it’s a start?

    • Most certainly a good quote book can entertain for a long time, like the second and third books I mentioned here! The QI Advanced Banter book has kept me entertained for many hours since I bought it.

      Winston Churchill had some interesting quotes that I have come across, hahaha. It’s a start, for sure! 🙂

  3. Pingback: The Wit and Wisdom of P. G. Wodehouse | wantoncreation

  4. I quote excessively. I once went through an interview where to everything they would ask I would answer with a quote. Somehow I still got the job, but I believe it was down to their desperation. In short- I love the quotes- great post- as always! 🙂

    • Wow, you answered a whole interview with quotes and got the job? I am so impressed right now. That’s even better than the time I was in a job interview and the question sheet we had to fill out before we went in asked if we had any special talents, and I, feeling the smartarse, wrote that I could make fart sounds not only with my armpits but also my ears and eye sockets (yes yes I know, ridiculously childish..I think I drank too much coffee that morning). Anyway, during the interview, which was with the national boss, he asked me to demonstrate. I did, and he laughed luckily. I got the job, somehow. o_O
      But anyway, I am just blown away by your story – that actually requires talent to do that! Glad to know you love quotes! I was thinking of setting up a quotes page up the top of the blog, actually… 🙂

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