Bookish Chat – Epigraphs and why they rock my book world

September 28, 2013 Bookish chat 6

One thing I love in books and that really hype me up for a book before I even turn to page one is an epigraph.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know the official name for these, I just call them quotes at the start of the book!  But what do you know, they have a name – epigraphs, I already feel more learned and bookish just by finding that out!

I don’t mean ones at the start of every chapter (not sure if that is still an epigraph?) as that can get a bit much and after a while I stop reading them.  I’m talking about the ones that are an introduction before you ever start the book.
So why do I love them?

  • They give me an insight into the author and to what inspires them
  • They give me a feel for the tone of the book and can often set the stage for the drama ahead of  you
  • They feel like crowd warmers to me and get me hyped up all ready for the main act
  • They can be so unexpected – witty, wise, thoughtful, mysterious – you never know just what you’ll find
  • I’m a quote-whore

First off I’m going to share my all-time favourite one and it’s from a book I only read last week – The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.  As soon as I read this, I had shivers and couldn’t wait to read the book.

 “What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
You dreamed
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in your hand
And, what then?”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

And another one also from the start of The Dream Thieves (PS – you may see a lot of fan-girling around here in the future about The Dream Thieves – get used to it!)

Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible
– T. E. Lawrence

Honestly, these lines just revved my excitement for this book up to fever pitch level and I was already in love before I even started the book.  And after reading the book, they are even more meaningful and at the same time puzzling.

Another firm favourite is from The Secret History by Donna Tartt – a book that I read years and years ago and that still remains one of my favourite books ever.

Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in storytelling, and our story shall be the education of our heroes.
– Plato, Republic, Book II

Bookish Chat : Do these lines excite you like the do me?  Do you love epigraphs or flick quickly past?  Do you have a favourite you want to share?

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6 Responses to “Bookish Chat – Epigraphs and why they rock my book world”

  1. trish

    So glad I can put a name on them now! I always read them just to get a feel for what inspires the author.

    Yes you need to read The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves. I need to discuss these books with someone and try to figure out what the hell is going on! If you like the epigraphs, you will LOVE the books 🙂

    • trish

      I felt silly that I didn’t know what they were called but looks like lots of us didn’t, so I feel better now! The ones from The Dream Thieves are by far my favourites.

  2. Arra

    Can I just say that I love you for saying and being a quote whore!!!!????? Because I am one too!!! I am a sucker for book quotes that i take note of them, save them and post and share them everywhere!!! And yes, thank you for the enlightenment that those were called epigraphs because i blatantly call them quotes. Haha. I love them! Sometimes i wonder how those relate to the whole story. It’s like a code you have to decipher. It’s a mystery that i look forward in reading and finding out. 🙂

    Style Reader
    Arra recently posted…Blog Tour: Take Me Back by Sally Mandel (Book Review)

    • trish

      I love quotes so much, so I’m glad to know that you are quote kindred spirit! And that’s it exactly, they are just like a code and it often takes a bit of time to figure out just bow they relate to the book. All part of the fun!

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