"People who’ve never read fairy tales, the professor said, have a harder time coping in life than the people who have. They don’t have access to all the lessons that can be learned from the journeys through the dark woods and the kindness of strangers treated decently, the knowledge that can be gained from the company and example of Donkeyskins and cats wearing boots and steadfast tin soldiers. I’m not talking about in-your-face lessons, but more subtle ones. The kind that seep up from your sub¬conscious and give you moral and humane structures for your life. That teach you how to prevail, and trust. And maybe even love."
— Charles de Lint, The Onion Girl (via itsfromabook)
The Inspiration Behind The Book Thief
- Question: What inspired you to write THE BOOK THIEF?
- Answer: I grew up in Sydney and had a pretty normal childhood with my brother and two sisters. We lived most of our lives in the backyard, doing typical Australian things, but once in a while, it wasn’t Sydney anymore – because our parents told us their stories. That was when a piece of Europe entered our household, and our lives.
- It was never an organized thing. My mum and dad never sat us down and said, ‘Now we’re going to tell you where we came from.’ It was spontaneous. Something would happen, usually in the kitchen, and then came a story. We would hear about cities of fire, bombs shaking the ground, and what it was like to emerge from underground to discover that everything had changed.
- One evening, I remember my mother telling us about something else she witnessed as a child, which has stayed with me a long time.
- She told us of the time she saw Jewish people and other so-called criminals marched through her small town, on their way to Dachau. At the back of the line, an old man, totally emaciated, couldn’t keep up. When a teenage boy saw this, he brought the man a piece of bread and the man fell to his knees and held the boy’s ankles, thanking him…That was when a soldier marched over, tore the bread from the man’s hands and whipped him for taking it. Then, he chased down the boy and whipped him for giving him the bread in the first place. It was a story of great cruelty and kindness, simultaneously.
- I didn’t know it at the time, but almost all of the stories my parents told were full of opposites: right and wrong, fear and relief, destruction and humanity. The other point I didn’t realize was that these stories became like a second language to me, and when I became a writer, that language was already there – just waiting. It was waiting for me to scratch the surface, reach in and pull it out as the beginnings of a book.
- At first, The Book Thief was supposed to be a small novel – only a hundred pages or so – but the more time I spent with it, the more it grew, in every way. As three years of work went by, it changed from a book that meant something to me to a book that meant everything, and I’m very grateful for it. I’m also grateful to every reader who has picked it up and given it a chance. They’ve been more generous to The Book Thief than I could ever have imagined.
"He stared up at the stars: and it seemed to him then they were dancers, stately and graceful, performing a dance almost infinite in its complexity. He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale, they were, smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the center of its world, as each of us does."
— Stardust by Neil Gaiman (via quoteablebooks)
"My reading has caused me for some reason to remember myself as I was when a young girl, reading high Romances and seeing myself simultaneously as the object of all knights’ devotion — an unspotted Guenevere — and as the author of the Tale. I wanted to be a Poet and a Poem."
— Possession, by A.S. Byatt
"As I walked in the dark through the tunnels and tunnels of books, I could not help being overcome by a sense of sadness. I couldn’t help thinking that if I, by pure chance, had found a whole universe in a single unknown book, buried in that endless necropolis, tens of thousands more would remain unexplored, forgotten forever. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory, day after day, unknowingly, feeling all the wiser the more it forgot."
— Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind (via quillkirkland)
"The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you’ve already stopped loving that person forever."
"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens."
My own experience is something like this. I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity to-day, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, send this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ. And perhaps, buy God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources. But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys: I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat because it is now associated with the misery of those few days. Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me for but forty-eight hours and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me … And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.
—C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
"[Christianity] is not a system into which we have to fit the awkward fact of pain: it is itself one of the awkward facts which have to be fitted into any system we make. In a sense, it creates, rather than solves, the problem of pain, for pain would be no problem unless, side by side with our daily experience of this painful world, we had received what we think a good assurance that ultimate reality is righteous and loving."
— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain