This is a collection of quotes I’ve found inspiring and thought-provoking from books I’ve read (and other sources too, but mostly books). I keep them here for my own use, and in the hope that someone else might also find them useful.

It is a most wonderful comfort to sit alone beneath a lamp, book spread before you, and commune with someone from the past whom you have never met.

Yoshida Kenko

What is a scientist after all? It is a curious man looking through a keyhole, the keyhole of nature, trying to know what’s going on.

Jacques Yves Cousteau

The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.

Yoda, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Do, or do not. There is no try.

Yoda, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.

Henry David Thoreau. “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”.

After the first blush of sin comes its indifference.


We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire.


I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.

Henry David Thoreau. “Walden”.

I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter—we never need read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications? To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.


Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things.


I am wont to think that men are not so much the keepers of herds as herds are the keepers of men, the former are so much the freer.


Philanthropy is not love for one’s fellow-man in the broadest sense.


It is a vulgar error to suppose that you have tasted huckleberries who never plucked them.


You need not rest your reputation on the dinners you give.


All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.

Edward Gibbon

The Life of the intellect is the best and pleasantest for man, because the intellect more than anything else is the man. Thus it will be the happiest life as well.


People don’t succumb to screens because they’re lazy, but instead because billions of dollars have been invested to make this outcome inevitable.

Cal Newport. “Digital Minimalism”.

A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.

Segal’s law

To try and fail is at least to learn; to fail to try is to suffer the inestimable loss of what might have been.

Chester Barnard

Try reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle; that’s the intellectual environment of the Internet.

Nicholas Carr. “The Shallows”.

Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.


How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.


Some problems are better avoided than solved.

Brian Christian. “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions”.

The particular is the gateway to the universal.


Err on the side of messiness. Sorting something that you will never search is a complete waste; searching something you never sorted is merely inefficient.