Alexander McCall Smith quotes

  • The telling of a story, like virtually everything in this life, was always made all the easier by a cup of tea.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Tea #Stories #Cups

  • I think that we've made great moral progress in the second half of the 20th century in many respects, and particularly in relation to human rights but I think that we are losing sight of some of the values of concern for others, and self-respect and respect for others.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Thinking #Rights #Sight

  • You can go through life and make new friends every year - every month practically - but there was never any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Inspirational Life #Years #Childhood

  • What I really like investigating in my novels: what is it that makes an intimate society, that makes a society in which moral concern for others will be possible? Part of that I think are manners and ritual. We tried to get rid of manners, we tried to abolish manners in the '60s. Manners were very, very old-fashioned and un-cool. And of course we didn't realise that manners are the building blocks of proper moral relationships between people.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Block #Thinking #People

  • Most people want nothing to happen. That is the problem with governments these days. They want to do things all the time; they are always very busy thinking of what things they can do next. That is not what people want. People want to be left alone to look after their cattle.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Gratitude #Thinking #Government

  • Ritual is a terribly important, binding cement in a society. If we abandon formality and rituals, we're actually weakening the relationships that exist between people that bind.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #People #Important #Abandon

  • It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin. That brought you down to earth. That gave you a reason for going on. Pumpkin.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Thinking #Finals #Analysis

  • We need to believe I think in justice. We need to run our lives as if justice existed. If we abandon a belief that justice will eventually be done, we make this world much more difficult for ourselves.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Running #Believe #Thinking

  • We don't forget.... Our heads may be small, but they are as full of memories as the sky may sometimes be full of swarming bees, thousands and thousands of memories, of smells, of places, of little things that happened to us and which came back, unexpectedly, to remind us who we are.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Memories #Sky #Smell

  • Some of my characters are a mixture of various aspects of people I have met. others are pure invention.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Character #People #Mixtures

  • Do you realise that people die of boredom in London suburbs? It's the second biggest cause of death amongs the English in general. Sheer boredom...
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #People #Boredom #London

  • I enjoy women's conversation, and I think that helps me to describe them in fiction.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Thinking #Fiction #Helping

  • Gracious acceptance is an art - an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving.... Accepting another person's gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Art #Acceptance #Thinking

  • I see no point in being despondent. We might as well enjoy ourselves during our brief tenure of this life.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Might #This Life #Enjoy

  • There is room in history for all of us.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Rooms

  • If you want to write, do two things - read lots of books and also, in your own writing, practise. Just write and write and then write again. persist. And never be put off or discouraged. You can do it!
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Book #Writing #Two

  • [Edinburgh] is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Beautiful #Heart #Light

  • Life consists of positive and negative features, and I think that it is permissible to write about both.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Writing #Thinking #Negative

  • Be content with who you are and where you are, and do whatever you can do to bring to others such contentment, and joy, and understanding that you have managed to find yourself.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Joy #Understanding #Finding Yourself

  • I can read more languages than I speak! I speak French and Italian - not very well, alas, but I can get by. I read German and Spanish. I can read Latin (I did a lot of Latin at school.) I'm afraid I do not speak any African languages, although I can understand a little bit of the Zulu-related languages, but only a tiny bit.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Latin #School #Italian

  • It is sometimes easier to be happy if you don't know everything.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Happiness #Sometimes #Easier

  • I write four or five a books a year. That means that I usually have one on the go. I am fortunate in being able to write quickly - 1000 words an hour.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Book #Writing #Mean

  • We all know that it is women who take the decisions, but we have to let men think that the decisions are theirs. It is an act of kindness on the part of women.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Kindness #Men #Thinking

  • There are many women whose lives would be immeasurably improved by widowhood, but one should not always point that out.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Would Be #Widowhood #Should

  • I am just a tiny person in Africa, but there is a place for me, and for everybody, to sit down on this earth and touch it and call it their own.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Earth #Tiny #Persons

  • Well, Id say all of us are a combination of moods and emotions. In my day to day life I dont go around skipping, but at times one can feel sheer exhilarating joy at the world.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Joy #World #Emotion

  • Painters aren't expected to paint bleak pictures, are they?
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Paint #Painter #Bleak

  • I have three older sisters, so we were a reasonably large family and, in general, a happy one.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Three #Older Sister #Large Family

  • Oh I love gadgets and I pride myself on keeping at the cutting edge of technology.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Pride #Cutting #Technology

  • One of the most destructive things that's happening in modern society is that we are losing our sense of the bonds that bind people together - which can lead to nightmares of social collapse.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #People #Together #Losing

  • The Okavango Delta is an astonishing sight: the great Okavango River, rather than flow towards the sea, flows inland, into the sands of the Kalahari.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Sight #Sea #Rivers

  • It's through the small things that we develop our moral imagination, so that we can understand the sufferings of others.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Imagination #Suffering #Moral

  • I am capable of being idle.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Idle #Capable

  • As a writer, I have readers who will have a range of political views. I don't think they look to me for political guidance.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Thinking #Views #Political

  • My parents were very supportive and always encouraged us. My father was a gentle, nice man. My mother was quite a colorful character and a keen reader who encouraged me to write.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Mother #Father #Nice

  • As a writer I've learned certain lessons. One of them is to be careful about how you put a view, and to bear in mind how easily and readily you'll be misinterpreted.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Views #Mind #Bears

  • Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Block #Building #Manners

  • I would certainly never consider myself a Renaissance Man; I'm not fit to look at the dust from the chariot wheels of many of those who have gone before me.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Men #Dust #Renaissance

  • It is the search for beauty...That is what it is. We find ourselves on this earth--gods and men--and we know that it is beautiful. That is one of the few things we understand--beauty; because it is there, in the world, and we can see it all about us. We want beauty. It requires our love. It just does.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Beautiful #Men #Doe

  • Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill. These were its assets: a tiny white van, two desks, two chairs, a telephone, and an old typewriter. Then there was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe – the only lady private detective in Botswana – brewed redbush tea. And three mugs – one for herself, one for her secretary, and one for the client. What else does a detective agency really need? Detective agencies rely on human intuition and intelligence, both of which Mma Ramotswe had in abundance. No inventory would ever include those, of course.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Mma #Two #White

  • The problem, of course, was that people did not seem to understand the difference between right and wrong. They needed to be reminded about this, because if you left it to them to work out for themselves, they would never bother. They would just find out what was best for them, and then they would call that the right thing. That's how most people thought.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Differences #People #Work Out

  • Every small wrong, every minor act of cruelty, every act of petty bullying was symbolic of a greater wrong. And if we ignored these small things, then did it not blunt our outrage over the larger wrongs?
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Bullying #Ignored #Blunt

  • Any extreme political creed brought only darkness in the long run; it lit up nothing. The best politics were those of caution, tolerance and moderation, Angus maintained, but such politics were, alas, also very dull, and certainly moved nobody to poetry.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Running #Long #Political

  • Old friends, like old shoes, are comfortable. But old shoes, unlike old friends, tend not to be supportive: it is easier to stumble and sprain an ankle while wearing a pair of old shoes than it is in new shoes, with their less yielding leather.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Shoes #Old Friends #Supportive

  • But we make such mistakes all the time, all through our lives. Wisdom, I suppose, is seeing this and acting upon it before it is too late. But it is often too late, isn't it? - and those things that we should have said are unsaid, and remain unsaid for ever.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Mistake #Acting #Too Late

  • And how we become like our parents! How their scorned advice - based, we felt in our superiority, on prejudices and muddled folk wisdom - how their opinions are subsequently borne out by our own discoveries and sense of the world, one after one. And as this happens, we realise with increasing horror that proposition which we would never have entertained before: our mothers were right!
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Mother #Discovery #Parent

  • The people with the strong, brave exteriors are just as weak and vulnerable as the rest of us. And of course they never admit to their childish practices, their moments of weakness or absurdity, and then the rest of us think that's how it should be.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Strong #Thinking #Practice

  • It would be wonderful to have a guru; it would be like having a social worker or a personal trainer, not that people who had either of these necessarily appreciated the advice they received.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #People #Advice #Would Be

  • Our minds can come up with the most entertaining possibilities, if we let them. But most of the time, we keep them under far too close a check.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Mind #Possibility #Checks

  • And that, in a way, was the burden of being a philosopher: one knew what one had to do, but it was so often the opposite of what one really wanted to do.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Opposites #Way #Philosopher

  • We think the world is ours forever, but we are little more than squatters.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Thinking #Forever #World

  • Each of us is born into our own mysteries...but the mystery of another might just take us in and embrace us. And then what a sense of homecoming, of belonging!
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Might #Mystery #Homecoming

  • When we love others, we naturally want to talk about them, we want to show them off, like emotional trophies. We invest them with a power to do to others what they do to us; a vain hope, as the lovers of others are rarely of much interest to us. But we listen in patience, as friends must, and as Isabel now did, refraining from comment, other than to encourage the release of the story and the attendant confession of human frailty and hope.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Emotional #Stories #Want

  • Everything has been something before.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

  • I write four books a year. I'm very fortunate that I write quickly; around 3,500 words a day. Being strict about delineating my writing time and personal life, as well as keeping distractions at bay, is the only way I can accomplish this.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Book #Writing #Years

  • My wife Elizabeth and I started The Really Terrible Orchestra for people like us who are pretty hopeless musicians who would like to play in an orchestra. It has been a great success. We give performances; weve become the most famous bad orchestra in the world.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Play #People #Giving

  • She was made for untidy rooms and rumpled beds.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Sex #Bed #Rooms

  • Writers obviously have to bear witness to the harsh face of the age.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Age #Faces #Bears

  • That of all people, it should be him; that took her aback. That the heart should settle on somebody like him; that surprised her. But she was so certain about it, so certain.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Love #Heart #People

  • We should be careful of the insults we fling at others, lest they return and land at our feet, newly minted to apply to those who had first coined them.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Life #Land #Feet

  • How many of us are happy to be exactly where we are at any moment?...only the completely happy think that they are in the correct place.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Thinking #Moments

  • We are all tempted, Mma. We are all tempted when it comes to cake.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Cake #Mma #Temptation

  • I've always had a creative urge and I get immense satisfaction from creating something because it feels like I'm making sense of the world and imposing order on it.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Creating #Order #Creative

  • Many of my books are written from a female perspective. I rather enjoy the take that women have on the world, and certainly I enjoy the conversations that women have.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Book #Perspective #Female

  • To lose a child ... was something that could end one's world. One could never get back to how it was before. The stars went out. The moon disappeared. The birds became silent.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Inspirational #Stars #Children

  • That my philosophy of life is, as far as possible, one of enjoyment. I'm not nihilistic.
    -- Alexander McCall Smith

    #Philosophy #Life Is #Life Philosophy