Proverbs and Sayings on Books [With Meanings]

Proverbs and sayings are popular nuggets of wisdom, often in circulation for centuries and even millenniums. They’re different from quotes, which are relatively recent and can often be attributed to a well-known person. This post contains proverbs and sayings, along with its meaning, on books.

You may find more proverbs here:

1. Teachers die, but books live on.

Books are teachers as they teach us wisdom of thousands of years. Teachers come and go, but books carry on. That’s why we can still access wisdom of greats such as Aristotle, Seneca, and Socrates nearly two thousand years after they walked on this planet.

2. When you read a book for the first time, you get to know a friend; read it for a second time and you meet an old friend.

Your learning deepens when you re-read a book. You’ll inevitably miss few things in the first read, most of which you’ll grasp in the second. This, by the way, doesn’t take into account the silent digestion of and reflection on the content happening between the two readings.

3. Every book must be chewed to get out its juice.

A book must be read, re-read, and reflected upon in the light of your and others’ experiences to gain in-depth understanding of the subject.

4. There’s no thief like a bad book.

A bad book steals away your time because you hardly learn anything. If you come across such a book don’t finish it.

5. Reading books removes sorrow from the heart.

Books are a collection of wisdom accumulated over thousands of years. Little wonder, they will provide solution to your suffering. Moreover, books can distract you from the troubling present.

6. It is better to be without a book than to believe it entirely.

Don’t believe a book in toto. Evaluate its content in the light of your own experiences and observations. That’s where learning accelerates.

7. Unread books make hollow minds.

If a field is not ploughed, people will go hungry. If a book is not read, you’ll not gain the wisdom you’re looking for.

8. Every age has its book.

Every period has a different way of looking at things. Maybe some of the past wisdom holds the solution to current problems. For example, books on stoicism, an ancient Greek school of philosophy, are attracting audience now for tackling some of modern life’s problems. That’s why we shouldn’t limit our reading to recent books alone.

9. Scholars talk books, butchers talk pigs.

Not everyone would be interested in books.

10. A pack of cards is the devil’s prayer book.

For devil, entertainment or vice (symbolized by pack of cards) is the prayer book. If devil reads a prayer book, he wouldn’t be devil.

11. Whoever writes a book, should be ready to accept criticism.

Some are bound to disagree with the author, and some may even criticize. If the author is willing to accept justifiable criticism, he can in fact improve his subsequent works.

12. Years know more than books.

The proverb means that experience is better than reading books. There is flip side to it though. Gaining experience takes years and years, and an individual unfortunately has just one life. Why not learn from experiences of others, which have been documented in books. Gaining wisdom through own experience is like filling a bucket through a dripping tap, but gaining wisdom through others’ experiences (through books) is like filling a bucket through an open tap.

13. A book is a good friend when it lays bare the errors of the past.

Every mistake that was to be made has been made by humans and documented in books. If the book you’re reading helps you learn others’ mistakes and avoid them, then the book is like a friend, who too will alert you on your mistakes.

14. A man is happy when he has books, but happier still when he does not need them.

A man is happy when he has books because, if needed, he can find what he needs in them. But he is happier if he doesn’t need them because, in that case, he already possesses the wisdom.

15. The more sins you confess, the more books you will sell.

We’re naturally drawn to stories of redemption. A memoir in which author confesses missteps and delves on the path to redemption will therefore sell well.

16. If your books are not read, your descendants will be ignorant.

If your wisdom is not passed on to your descendants, they’ll lose something important.

17. A closed mind is like a closed book: just a block of wood.

A closed mind is non-receptive to ideas and change, leading to stasis. A closed book, similarly, can’t impart any knowledge or wisdom.

18. Choose an author as you choose a friend.

Books, like friends, can have profound impact on us through advice and knowledge they provide. So, pick books like you would pick friends.

19. Books and friends should be few but good.

By equating books with no less than friends, this proverb underscores the importance of books in our lives. It says that in matters of books and friends, go for quality over quantity. There is no point in having dozens of friends if they can’t stand by you in difficult times, and there is no point in reading potboilers. Have few but good ones.

20. Beware of a man of one book.

Don’t rely too much on a person who has deep knowledge in one field to the exclusion of others.

21. After three days without reading, talk becomes flavorless.

If we haven’t read enough, we lack substance in conversation.

22. A donkey that carries a lot of books is not necessarily learned.

Carrying books alone doesn’t make you learned. You’ve to read them, digest the information, connect the ideas to your existing knowledge, and, hopefully, even put to use what you’ve learnt.

23. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Cover of a book may look attractive, but the book may turn out to be waste of time. Conversely, a book with ordinary cover may turn out to be a great read. Similarly, we shouldn’t judge people by their outward appearance.

24. A book holds a house of gold.

You may not be able to meet the greatest living minds in the world and learn from them, and you’ll certainly not be able to meet the greatest minds of past years. But you can learn from them through books on them. Little wonder, super-busy people such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Oprah Winfrey read books regularly.

25. A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.

Resplendent with green and teaming with flowers and butterflies, a garden can be uplifting. Likewise, a book, with its nuggets of wisdom and entertainment, can be uplifting.

26. Money spent on the brain is never spent in vain.

Though not directly on books, this proverb underscores the importance of books. It says that money spent on acquiring knowledge and skills never goes waste. So, don’t hesitate in buying books.

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