Top 45 Amor Towles Quotes

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“I published ‘Rules of Civility’ while I was still working. It became a best seller. I was working on this book, and then I decided to retire.”

― Amor Towles

“In the contemporary world, we think of politeness as surface behavior, like frosting – it’s sweet and attractive and finishes off the cake. But 19th century nobility and the enlightened thinkers and stoics before them viewed manners in a very different way. To them, manners are an outward expression of an inward struggle.”

― Amor Towles

“When I visited Moscow for the first time in 1998, I wandered into the historic Metropol Hotel as a curious tourist simply to ogle the giant painted glass ceiling that hangs over the grand restaurant off the lobby. It was the memory of that short visit that prompted me, some years later, to set ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ in the hotel.”

― Amor Towles

“By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration but our reconsideration.”

― Amor Towles

“What can a first impression tell us about anyone? Why, no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brushstroke about Botticelli.”

― Amor Towles

“To a bookish boy in a Boston suburb in the mid-1970s, the lyrics of Cole Porter came as something of a revelation.”

― Amor Towles

“I prefer to put myself in an environment that’s further afield and look through the eyes of someone who differs from me in age, ethnicity, gender, and/or social class. I think a little displacement makes me a sharper observer.”

― Amor Towles

“You can build a place that is beautiful, but nobody feels comfortable sitting in it, and the kids aren’t allowed to go into many of the rooms. Or a place can look lived in, but it doesn’t please the eye.”

― Amor Towles

“I’ve been writing fiction since I was a kid. From the age of 15 to 25, I probably wrote more than 50 short stories, one of which was published in ‘The Paris Review’ in 1989.”

― Amor Towles

“My personal challenge as an artist has been having a day job which is intellectually satisfying and fun – and thus can easily supplant the desire to make art.”

― Amor Towles

“While I began writing ‘Rules of Civility’ in 2006, the genesis of the book dates back to the early 1990s, when I happened upon a copy of ‘Many Are Called,’ the collection of portraits that Walker Evans took on the New York City subways in the late 1930s with a hidden camera.”

― Amor Towles

“My grandmother, who was simultaneously a woman of manners and verve, fended off marriage proposals until she was 30 because she was having too much fun to settle down.”

― Amor Towles

“As awful as the crimes of Stalinism were, the vast majority of the Russian population was trying to survive, to love, to have a sense of purpose.”

― Amor Towles

“All the historical elements should feel organic to the story but not hammered down to serve a purpose.”

― Amor Towles

“Growing up, I didn’t come from a musical family. Neither of my parents played an instrument, sang out loud, or listened to the radio with frequency. The record collection in the living room was only about 2 feet long – and that included 4 solid inches of Neil Diamond and Herb Alpert.”

― Amor Towles

“Dad has worked as a banker at the same firm in Boston, living in the same suburban neighborhood for over 50 years. Later in life, when I got out of graduate school and imagined myself living the life of a writer like Hemingway or Kerouac, his practical self inevitably encouraged me to get a steady a job and raise a family, just like he did.”

― Amor Towles

“I always thought I was a writer on the inside, but after a few years of not writing, you can’t make that claim anymore.”

― Amor Towles

“I totally remember that: being 25 and unemployed and trying to stretch each cappuccino for 60 minutes.”

― Amor Towles

“I think that, every individual you invent in narrative work, you have to have some root in who that person is. That may be an aspect of yourself; it may be an aspect of something that you like, that you don’t like. It may be an aspect that you wish you had. Maybe something you admire in another person.”

― Amor Towles

“We study, as Americans, the extreme aspects of repression under the Stalinist era. We’re focused on them. The vast majority of Russian citizens, it was a much softer type of being disconcerted.”

― Amor Towles

“As both a student of history and a man devoted to living in the present, I admit that I do not spend a lot of time imagining how things might otherwise have been. But I do like to think there is a difference between being resigned to a situation and reconciled to it.”

― Amor Towles

“Of course, you wouldn’t want to re-create the era of aristocracy; it was a totally unfair era. The finer aspects of it were admirable, and so there’s nostalgia for that: the behavior, the values, the cultural sensitivities.”

― Amor Towles

“Every year, I would spend weeks at a time in the hotels of distant cities.”

― Amor Towles

“Early on in the writing, there is often a sentence that pins down a character for me.”

― Amor Towles

“When I was 10 years old, I threw a bottle with a note in it in the ocean in Massachusetts, and Harrison Salisbury found it and contacted me. We began a correspondence that lasted for years, and I eventually met him when I was 18.”

― Amor Towles

“I have the foundation to write, and then I go back and do research, and some of that might influence the recrafting of certain scenes.”

― Amor Towles

“I love 19th-century Russian literature, the avant garde, the Soviet period.”

― Amor Towles

“In retrospect, the pace of change in the arts and industry in the nineteenth century seems pretty glacial. Painting, music, the novel, architecture were all evolving, but at a pretty observable pace.”

― Amor Towles

“Some writers such as John Cheever and Raymond Carver seem to draw artistic energy from analyzing the realm of their own experiences – their social circles and memories and mores. I’m one of those who draw creative energy from the opposite.”

― Amor Towles

“In 1989, I had a fellowship to teach for Yale in China for two years. I came back from California to New Haven to spend the summer learning Chinese, but because of Tiananmen Square, Yale cancelled the program.”

― Amor Towles

“I had read Harold Bloom’s ‘Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?’ Late in his life, having read everything, Bloom asked which books had given him wisdom. I had just read a bunch of contemporary novels that had no wisdom for me.”

― Amor Towles

“Say I lived until 80 and read a book a month seriously, that means I was looking at 480 books left in my life. If I had only 480 left, I wanted to stop sifting through material I didn’t have confidence in and turn my attention to those that I know merited my reading.”

― Amor Towles

“As a youth, I always did a good deal of reading in the summer months, having suffered since birth from an allergy to athletic activity.”

― Amor Towles

“In my college years, I would retreat to our summer house for two weeks in June to read a novel a day. How exciting it was, after pouring my coffee and making myself comfortable on the porch, to open the next book on the roster, read the first sentences, and find myself on the platform of a train station.”

― Amor Towles

“As a traveler, I should probably count myself fortunate to be living in the jet age, and as an author, I know I am lucky to have a book tour at all.”

― Amor Towles

“I’ve always loved reading manifestos. Collectively, they represent a triumph of style.”

― Amor Towles

“When I traveled professionally in Europe, I would inevitably spend a weekend at the Hotel Costes around the corner from the Place Vendome in Paris.”

― Amor Towles

“One restaurant I visit without fail, whenever I’m in the Bay Area, is the Boulevard at 1 Mission Street, a few strides from the waterfront. It has excellent food and wine very much in the modern California style, but I go there less for any one dish than for the pleasure of dining with the restaurant’s chefs.”

― Amor Towles

“Strangely enough, my favorite airport is Logan Airport in Boston – but largely for sentimental reasons. My first real summer job was working as a journeyman for the airport’s resident maintenance crew – a small army of union electricians, plumbers, and carpenters.”

― Amor Towles

“Russia was the last to leave the 19th century and the most rapid to enter the mandates of the 20th century. It was not an evolution. It was not a slow process.”

― Amor Towles

“When I sat down to write ‘Rules of Civility,’ I didn’t write it for anybody but myself. I wasn’t trying to make my mark or make money. I wasn’t anxious about feeding my kids or whether my father would be proud of me.”

― Amor Towles

“I had a 20-year career. I have two children. The advantage of writing later in my life is that I already had a whole mature realm of accomplishments and responsibilities, an identity outside of being a writer.”

― Amor Towles

“I have been writing since I was a kid. I also traveled a good deal for my work and did extended stays in places like Geneva.”

― Amor Towles

“Look at Snowden or Julian Assange. In their own way, they are free without restrictions. They are dropped in a place because of political reasons.”

― Amor Towles

“I make extensive outlines before I write a book. I usually know what will happen. I know the characters, and I know what they are about.”

― Amor Towles
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