The axe for the frozen sea within us….

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”
– Franz Kafka


  1. Quote: Whiskey River
  2. Image: Ruby Mart


  1. Thank you David, now I do not feel so guilty about all of the books that I own 🙂

    I have started purchasing e-books for my ipad, but there are certain books that I just need to be able to hold and know that they are there on my shelf for future reference.


  2. I completely agree with Tina. I guess we will keep the purchasing of bounded books alive!


  3. Good quote, thoughts, indeed! Thank you for sharing! Will be glad to follow your posts!
    I guess writing blog like this, you’ll like a suggestion of mine? Do you use sites like, cafepress. com, fiverr? They could be a good way to promote your works and to help “remove” stupidity in the streets like headlines on t-shirts, fridge-magnets, cups, etc: My Boyfriend kisses Better Than Yours, FBI – female body inspector, etc. Not everything we see and think of should be about sex, right? It would be much better if there were more nice pictures of mythical creatures, good thoughts, poems from fantasy genre, etc? I’m allanbard there, I use some of my illustrations, thoughts, poems from my books (like: One can fight money only with money, Even in the hottest fire there’s a bit of water, Money areb among the last things that make people rich, or
    Let’s watch the moon, let’s meet the sun!
    Let’s hear soon the way the Deed was done!
    Let’s listen to the music the shiny crystals played,
    let’s welcome crowds of creatures good and great…
    etc). I guess such lines look and sound much better than all those we see every day? Best wishes! Keep up the good work! Let the wonderful noise of the sea always sounds in your ears! (a greeting of the water dragons’ hunters – my Tale Of The Rock Pieces).


  4. I believe we should read books that move us, not just” wound or stab us”. Kafka is right that we do need to be affected by disaster and to grieve deeply but I think we also need to be able to laugh out loud when we read – that real belly-deep sound that cheers the soul.


  5. Love this quote! Spouse and I worked for years to have a house with a room for our library. It’s beautiful and a dream come true. Thank you for this wonderful quote!


  6. While I am a Kafka fan, I cannot agree with him here. Perhaps one should rather read an instruction manual to the GPS that guides us away from the freezing conditions in the first place (you hear me screaming’ Earnest Shakleton?). The books to which he refers should be like first cool morning in the fall after a long summer….earned and savored. If you are constantly axing your soul, you should probably learn to laugh more often. Now if I could only remember that…

    Great post, Dave. Thanks. Digging the Kafka reference.


    • Hi Len. Love the imagery (cool morning in fall…constantly taxing your soul…). Your reaction reminds me of the quote (not sure who said it): Finding Balance In All things. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Dave


  7. This is my belief, too! 🙂


  8. I really do see Kafka’s point here. For example, look at the just-released movie of The Hunger Games series! A very proper shake-up this is! Hooray!


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