Monday, January 27, 2014


We at Why Not Books named our company after a statement of possibility, a call to conjecture, a challenge to the accepted order of things. We named it after skewed perspectives and a belief that the infinite is attainable. We named it after our favorite description of imagination, a George Bernard Shaw quotation: “You see things, and you say, ‘Why.’ I dream things that never were and I say, ‘Why not?’” RFK borrowed the line for a speech while running for president. Before repeating Shaw’s quote, he said, “I don’t think we have to accept the situation, as we have it at the moment. I think that we can do better, and I think the American people think that we can do better.”

So do we. So we call ourselves Why Not Books.

And here we offer our 92 favorite perspectives on the power of imagination:

1. “You see things and say ‘Why.’ I dream things that never were and I say, ‘Why not?’” – George Bernard Shaw

2. “There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.” ― G.K. Chesterton

3. “Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” — Albert Einstein

4. “Imagination is the voice of daring.”― Henry Miller

5. “You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” ― Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

6. “Reason is intelligence taking exercise. Imagination is intelligence with an erection.” ― Victor Hugo

7. “Imagination is the true magic carpet.” ― Norman Vincent Peale

8. “The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.” ― Henry Ward Beecher

9. “Things are pretty, graceful, rich, elegant, handsome, but, until they speak to the imagination, not yet beautiful.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

10. “Imagination has brought mankind through the Dark Ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity. Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I believe that dreams - day dreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain-machinery whizzing - are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and therefore to foster civilization.” ― L. Frank Baum, The Lost Princess of Oz

11. “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ― Saul Bellow

12. “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.” ― Francis Bacon

13. “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun” ― Pablo Picasso

14. “An idea is salvation by imagination” ― Frank Lloyd Wright

15. “If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper a pray-er a magic-bean-buyer
If youre a pretender com sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin
Come in! 
― Shel Silverstein

16. “A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” ― Sidney Sheldon

17. “I have a habit of letting my imagination run away from me. It always comes back though . . . drenched with possibilities.” ― Valaida Fullwood

18. “Imagination is the politics of dreams; imagination turns every word into a bottle rocket. . . . Imagine every day is Independence Day and save us from traveling the river changed; save us from hitchhiking the long road home. Imagine an escape. Imagine that your own shadow on the wall is a perfect door. Imagine a song stronger than penicillin. Imagine a spring with water that mends broken bones. Imagine a drum which wraps itself around your heart. Imagine a story that puts wood in the fireplace.” ― Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

19. “We live in condensations of our imagination” ― Terence McKenna

20. “Yes, and imagine a world where there were no hypothetical situations.” ― Jasper Fforde, First Among Sequels

21. “Your imagination, my dear fellow, is worth more than you imagine.” ― Louis Aragon

22. “The waking have one world in common; sleepers have each a private world of his own.” ― Heraclitus

23. “Afterwards, in bed with a book, the spell of television feels remote compared to the journey into the page. To be in a book. To slip into the crease where two pages meet, to live in the place where your eyes alight upon the words to ignite a world of smoke and peril, colour and serene delight. That is a journey no one can end with the change of a channel. Enduring magic.” ― Ann-Marie MacDonald, The Way the Crow Flies

24. “Our imagination flies—we are its shadow on the earth.” ― Vladimir Nabokov

25. “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.”― Albert Einstein

26. “Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” ― Terry Pratchett“

27. “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” ― Stephen R. Covey

28. “My imagination is a monastery, and I am its monk” ― John Keats

29. “Merrick belonged to that class of reader who was able to forget with amazing ease the hand moving the characters behind the scenes of the novel.” ― Félix J. Palma, The Map of Time

30. “Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and, therefore, the foundation of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” ― J.K. Rowling

31. “The possible's slow fuse is lit by the Imagination.” ― Emily Dickinson

32. “Those who fear the imagination condemn it: something childish, they say, something monsterish, misbegotten. Not all of us dream awake. But those of us who do have no choice.” ― Patricia A. McKillip

33. “Imagination is God's gift to the dreamers.” ― T.R. Wallace

34. “Adventure is not outside man; it is within.” ― George Eliot

35. Poetry = Anger x Imagination” ― Sherman Alexie, One Stick Song

36. “The man who cannot visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot.”― André Breton

37. “I suppose an active imagination can be a form of madness. Or it can be the thing that keeps you from going mad.” ― Esme Raji Codell, Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year

38. “The writer's curse is that even in solitude, no matter its duration, he never grows lonely or bored.” ― Criss Jami

39. “Being ill when you are a child or growing up is such an enchanted interlude! The outside world, the world of free time in the yard or the garden or on the street, is only a distant murmmur in the sickroom. Inside, a whole world of characters and stories proliferate out of the books you read. The fever that weakens your perception as it sharpens your imagination turns the sickroom into something new, both familiar and strange; monsters come grinning out of the patterns on the curtains and the carpet, and chairs, tables, bookcases and wardrobes burst out of their normal shapes and become mountains and buildings and ships you can almost touch although they're far away. ― Bernhard Schlink, The Reader

40. The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” ― J.M.
Barrie, Peter Pan

41. “A child’s imaginary playmate just might actually be there.” ― Doug Dillon

42. “Never outgrow your imagination.” ― Teresa Mummert

43. “There are two gods in this universe: God and Imagination. Both of them can design and create infinite creations.” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

44. “All human accomplishment has this same origin, identically. Imagination is a force of nature. Is this not enough to make a person full of ecstasy? Imagination, imagination, imagination! It converts to actual. It sustains, it alters, it redeems!” ― Saul Bellow, Henderson, The Rain King

45. “My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.” ― Ursula K. Le Guin

46. “Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.” ― W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up

47. “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” ― Carl Sagan

48. “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” ― Albert Einstein

49. “Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines. What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination.” ― Jeanette Winterson

50. “Writing is like sculpturing words out of a block of imagination. Sentences chisel the story, then characters make it their own.” ― Federico Chini, The Sea Of Forgotten Memories

51. “Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.” 
― Philip José Farmer

52. “Imagination is the highest kite that can fly.” 
― Lauren Bacall, By Myself and Then Some

53. “The monkey body has carried us to this moment of release, but we are coming more and more to exist in a world made by the human imagination.” ― Terence McKenna

54. “Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” ― Gloria Steinem

55. “We should use our imagination more than our memory.” ― Shimon Peres

56. “Memory is imagination in reverse.” ― Stephen Evans, The Marriage of True Minds

57. “Imagination is not an icing on the cake of life but the oven in which it is baked.” ― Orna Ross

58. “Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun.” ― George Scialabba

59. “If you can imagine a thing, then it has already existed, somewhere, somewhen, somehow.” ― Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut

60. “The interior of our skulls contains a portal to infinity.” ― Grant Morrison

61. “Writing is a job, a talent, but it's also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.” ― Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty

62. “A writer who is afraid to overreach himself is as useless as a general who is afraid to be wrong.” ― Raymond Chandler, Pearls are a Nuisance

63. “To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.” ― Anatole France

64. “Love what you do and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.” ― Ray Bradbury

65. “Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.” ― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

66. “I think nature's imagination Is so much greater than man's, she's never going to let us relax”  ― Richard P. Feynman

67. “Use your imagination only on the future, never on the present or the past.” ― Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master's Son

68. “In the world of imagination, all things belong.” ― Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing

69. “Use your imagination not to scare yourself to death but to inspire yourself to live.” ― Adele Brookman

70. “If you start most of your sentences with 'Why Can't', 'Why Not', or 'What if', you'll build a stronger imagination.” ― Corey Aaron Burkes, Scratch - with Audio Theater and Links

71. “What is an idea made of? Of future, past and also meanwhile.” ― Lynda Barry, What It Is

72. “That's the beginning of magic. Let your imagination run and follow it.” ― Patricia A. McKillip, Alphabet of Thorn

73. “He who lacks imagination lives but half a life. He has his experiences, he has his facts, he has his learning. But do any of these really live unless touched by the magic of the imagination?” ― Paul Fenimore Cooper

74. “No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.” ― Edward Hopper

75. “The only seed that needs regular watering is our imagination.” ― Diriye Osman, Fairytales For Lost Children

76. “The imagination is the goal of history. I see culture as an effort to literally realize our collective dreams.” ― Terence McKenna

77. “Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination.” ― Janet Frame

78. “...[T]here should be a real sense of your imagination and your memories walking and woolgathering, tramping the hills, romping all over the place. Trust them. Don't look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.” ― Anne Lamott

79. “Our dreams prove that to imagine - to dream about things that have not happened - is among mankind's deepest needs.” ― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

80. “Thought is the greatest of pleasures —pleasure itself is only imagination—have you ever enjoyed anything more than your dreams?” ― Gustave Flaubert

81. “Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast” ― Lewis Carroll

82. “Usually, the main problem with life conundrums is that we don't bring to them enough imagination” ― Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul: Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life

83. “Who but the artist has the power to open man up, to set free the imagination? The others - priest, teacher, saint, statesman, warrior - hold us to the path of history. They keep us chained to the rock, that the vultures may eat out our hearts. It is the artist who has the courage to go against the crowd; he is the unrecognized "hero of our time" - and of all time.” ― Henry Miller, Stand Still Like the Hummingbird

84. “Fancies are like can't cage them, they're such wayward, dancing things.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

85. “Because the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination.” ― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

86. “What I fear most, I think, is the death of the imagination.” ― Sylvia Plath

87. “A book is a device to ignite the imagination.” ― Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader

88. “Betsy returned to her chair, took off her coat and hat, opened her book and forgot the world again.” ― Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

89. “How far can your imagination take you? I don't know. That's up to you, but I think you should find out.” ― Destiny Booze

90. “And people who don’t dream, who don’t have any kind of imaginative life, they must… they must go nuts. I can’t imagine that.” ― Stephen King

91. “My imagination is something of a badass.” ― D.C. Pierson, The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To

92. “My imagination will get me a passport to hell one day.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden


  1. Love the blog!!! This is my favorite list so far.....looking forward to the next 94! Keep them coming!

  2. I found some new favorite quotes here