One of life’s great pleasures for bookworms like me is the chance to visit a used bookstore. You’ve got the best of both worlds. There are infinite opportunities to seek out literature in every genre you can imagine, and you save money on the books. Sweet!
You stroll leisurely up and down the aisles, pulling out whatever attracts your attention from shelves, crates or tabletops. And if you’re really lucky, you come across a little-known, marvelous gem of a book. In my case, it’s the Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, edited by Evan Esar.
Originally published in 1949, this little paperback book contains a treasure trove of humorous quotations by people all over the world. It is full of sass and wisdom.
There are some of the people you’d expect to see, such as Dorothy Parker, Will Rogers, Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw and James Thurber, who are known for their humor. The book also has some surprises, such as Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, as well as quite a few people of whom I’ve never heard. Thankfully, Esar put in a few words next to each person’s name so I know when they lived and who they were.
There isn’t room to put all of the quotations here, but I’ll share some of the best. (Hopefully, nobody will take offense, chase me down and whack me upside the head with a dangling participle. I only mean to amuse and I’ll insult each gender equally.) Enjoy!
John Steinbeck — Coney Island: where the surf is one-third water and two-thirds people.
Abraham Lincoln — He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.
Helen Rowland — Love, the quest; marriage, the conquest; divorce, the inquest.
Robert Louis Stevenson — He sows hurry and reaps indigestion.
Mark Twain — His money is twice tainted: ‘taint yours and ‘taint mine.
Edgar Allan Poe — I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.
Oliver Herford — Diplomacy: lying in state.
Dorothy Parker — A girl’s best friend is her mutter.
Lord Palmerston — The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt — When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
Mary Heaton Vorse — The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.