Twenty-Four Quotations About The Yale Book Of Quotations

The Yale Daily News Magazine just published my glowing review of The Yale Book of QuotationsI also profiled the book’s creator, Fred Shapiro. This is my last piece of original journalism for any Yale publication.

The article includes an interesting call to action. Fred needs help writing the next edition. If you’d like your favorite quote to end up in a book that sells tens of thousands of copies, read until the end, or just read the pitch right now.


Twenty-Four Quotations About the Yale Book of Quotations

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”

 –Francis Bacon, Of Studies

“Dictionary, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.”

–Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic’s Word Book


The Yale Book of Quotations (YBQ) is a magnificent beast of a tome, a rare creature found only in libraries and the homes of the most devoted litterateurs. Most books have one or two quotable lines. The YBQ has over twelve thousand. And though it is 1100 pages long, it remains, fundamentally, the project of a single man: Fred Shapiro, a librarian in the Yale Law School.

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Recent Work: Fall/Winter 2013


Unschooled: CT’s Most Radical Homeschoolers (in the cool surfer sense of “radical”)

Review: Janelle Monae, Electric Lady (the album was good, this review isn’t)

Interview: Chris Stedman, author of Faithiest (part of the launch of the Yale Humanist Community; I’m on the board of directors)

Making Believe: Religious Conversion at Yale University (includes this companion post)

“Witt’s religious awakening was outside my realm of understanding. I wondered if it was really a coincidence that her new relationship with Jesus began at a retreat where she’d begun new relationships with a few dozen Christian friends. Why would God wait to find her on a dock in the woods when she’d been going to church her entire life?”


Yale University Commencement Address, May 2014 (Yale jokes)

“As I look upon this crowd—with your narrow shoulders, your pimply foreheads, your dumb, bovine gazes—I almost pity you. You must have been overwhelmed when Yale opened its gates to you, for some inexplicable reason. Perhaps you were Australian, or a mediocre synchronized swimmer. Perhaps your mother was an especially talented applications-essayist.”

Levels of Hell Left Out of Dante’s Inferno

Indiana Jones and Printing at Bass Library (Yale jokes)

A Playlist for Your Worst Moments (Yale jokes, pop music, fourth essay down)

“Heaven has a plan for you, and the plan is that you will grow old and die, like everyone else.”


Long Day’s Journey Into Cambridge (Yale jokes) (alternate universes)

Profile of a Coffee-Shop Owner Who Bans the Internet


Gourmet Heaven, Wage Theft, and the Convenience of Indecision (warning: angst)

The Floodgates Open: Variety Show Edition

Most of the rest of my widely-available online work. Some pieces available only on paper, or whose links have broken, will be published later, in full.

Topics include Michael Grunwald’s The New New Dealmy weightlifting routine, potential trespassing, and how I wound up mentoring a stranger in China.

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