Quote gathering

I began collecting quotes sometimes when I was a teenager, first taping them to my walls, then jotting them down in a small thin spiral notebook, which I covered with unicorn stickers and rainbows. (lucy_anne may remember this.) At first my quotes came from other people’s quotes, little inspirational bits caught on stickers or greeting. Then they came from books where someone quoted someone, and finally they came from the books themselves–from primary sources. I carried my quote book around with me. I brought it with me on sleepovers, alongside my story journals, and shared the things I’d found in it the way other kids probably shared records and clothes.

Sometime in college, the quote book overflowed its bounds, and I got a second one, similar size, similar shape. Around the time I moved to Tucson, the second notebook became in danger of filling up, too.

So I bought another spiral notebook–a much larger, thicker one this time, a couple hundred pages instead of a few dozen–and carefully copied over all the quotes from those first two books that I still considered relevant to me, trimming out some of the quotes I no longer found profound or well-written, but more or less still keeping to the spirit of the thing.

I’ve been adding to this notebook ever since, though my pace of quote-gathering has slowed considerably through the years–whether because I’ve grown pickier in my quote-selecting or because I’m not reading quite as fast, I’m not sure. My quote notebook is about two-thirds of the way full, now. Its cover is pretty tattered, in danger of falling off. If I were getting a quote notebook now, I’d think in a more long-term sort of way, and get one made of sturdier stuff–a nice moleskine notebook, or some sort of fancy leather-covered thing. But these days, there are more quotes in there than I was to copy out by hand, so I recently found a red suede cover for it instead.

Because all the quotes still get written in by hand. It seems important somehow, in the spirit of my early quote gathering. I write in longhand in my quote book more often than almost anywhere else–I only rarely journal longhand these days, or write fiction that way.

The quotes in it cover nearly a quarter decade now. The book is a sort of map of those years; I can skim through a section, and get a snapshot of what I was reading–maybe what I was thinking–when I wrote in it.

It’s a link between the person I was, and the person I am–something that I haven’t just saved from my adolescence and put away on a shelf, but something that’s still evolving, still a part of my present-day life.

How do you all gather quotes, if you do?

Or do you have some other thing that links your past self to your present self, and remains relevant to both?

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