Ifferisms: An Anthology of Aphorisms That Begin With the Word If, Dr. Mardy Grothe, Collins Reference.

“Do you know what an aphorism is?” asks Dr. Mardy Grothe in the introduction to “Ifferisms.” I didn’t—at least I couldn’t verbalize a definition before reading this book. According to Grothe, an “aphorism is a brief observation that attempts to communicate some kind of truth about the human experience,” and in “Ifferisms,” he presents nearly two-thousand quotations that begin with the word if—hence the title.

Over the course of 18 chapters, Grothe covers everything from: words to live by (“If you are not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re playing it safe” —Woody Allen); sports (“If people don’t want to come to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them”—Yogi Berra); sex, love & romance (“If you aren’t going to go all the way, why go at all?”—Joe Namath); and so-called classics, such as, “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Reading “Ifferisms,” it’s easy to see why Grothe’s previous books—including “Oxymoronica” and “I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like”—were so popular. Unlike most quotation anthologies, which tend to consist of nothing more than a list of quotes organized by subject, Grothe gives the reader the back story behind many of his selections, especially valuable when a quote has been misattributed or there is some controversy as to its origins.

So … if you buy only one quote book all year, make this the one.

Dr Mardy dot-com