Lighthouse Books

Lighthouse books bring a wide connotation. We can be interested in research, in history, in discovering a particular meaning for the word lighthouse. Maybe we want to know more about lighthouse symbolism. Could be we'd love to find some great lighthouse quotes. Or we're looking for a particular lighthouse book - like the ever studied To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

What's your motive for inquiring of lighthouse books? Many book shops name themselves for lighthouses! Could that relate to lighthouse symbolism? We have lots you could consider here. So let's delve in!

Case filled with books, a beta-fish in his tank on top. All on a rocky beach by a lighthouse on a breakwater. On this poster suggesting this is a perfect reading room

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Lighthouse Meaning

The dictionary meaning for a lighthouse is very analytical and descriptive. It says it's "a structure (such as a tower) with a powerful light that gives a continuous or intermittent signal to navigators" as the first definition. The second meaning given is a "beacon" which they then refer to as meaning "a source of light or inspiration."1

The use of this English language word originates from the 1620s. It's a combination of the ancient sources of the root word for light, which is "leuk" plus the germanic language root word for a dwelling.2

As mentioned above, a lighthouse includes an inspiratory meaning. Mariners use the light for guiding their ships safely into an area, particularly a port of safety. People take that example in a few different ways. 

The lighthouse meaning can therefore take a person on a path of following some illuminating guidance. Thus people use the symbolism of that light as hopeful direction. 

  1. For instance, seeing it specifically as spiritual sustenance, with a way to follow the beacon's direction for hope toward a reward.
  2. Because light itself is often associated with religious worship, it's often used as an extension to connect to lighthouses. Many in Christendom and Judaism use a lighthouse in their religious quotes, photos, posters and organizations. Blogger Elinor DeWire says they have "special meaning," representing "guidance, refuge and salvation."3
  3. Some think of the rugged individualism of lighthouse keepers. Their typically lonesome life, yet they follow their daily/nightly purpose of keeping the light on. The analogy is to keeping your sight on accomplishing your goal, without fail. But also of sacrificing your own comfort for the benefit of others.

Lighthouse Symbolism

Lighthouses have a symbolic meaning, and you can tell that from the meanings we've discussed already. Because they're considered a tower of strength, so to speak - they've been depicted in books and other literature, also in movies and plays as a place of sturdiness and safety.

Emitting the light that they have, they're a beacon. As such a beacon is used for either warning purposes or guidance purposes. Maybe even a combination of the two - depending on circumstances.

So a lighthouse's symbolism can encompass this double purpose:

  • First a warning of the danger ahead. Just as a lighthouse warns of the sea's unseen danger: a reef, submerged rocks, dangerous cross-currents, sandbars, etc. In lighthouse symbolism, the beacon is there to warn us of life's perils. To be aware, to know that dangers can creep up if we're not cautious.
  • Once aware, we'll better see the lighthouse, noting its light - its beacon. And we'll see it there, a core of sturdy strength. Now we can be on the watch, and use the light as a safeguard. It can illuminate a path for us to follow. Be the source of guidance for us. 

This is literally the method for ships and boats, but it's a good symbol for those of us going through life. Faced with problems, situations, decisions throughout. 


Best Lighthouse Quotes

So many have used lighthouses as examples and analogies. It's no wonder when we know their symbolism and meaning, as we've discussed. Many lighthouse books cover this type of material. We've included here some of the more inspirational and interesting lighthouse quotes we've come across.

  • We are told to let our light shine, and if it does we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining - they just shine. | Dwight L. Moody
  • Lighthouses are endlessly suggestive signifiers of both human isolation and our ultimate connection to each other. | Virginia Woolf
  • Lighthouses don't get all wobbly when the weather gets rough; they just stand there shining. | Unknown
  • At some time, often when we least expect it, we all have to face overwhelming challenges. When the unthinkable happens, the lighthouse is hope. Once we find it, we must cling to it with absolute determination. | Christopher Reeve
  • I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as a lighthouse. They were built only to serve. | George Bernard Shaw
  • A lighthouse doesn't save the ships; it doesn't go out and rescue them. It's just this pillar that helps to guide people home. | Lea Michele
  • Friends are like lighthouses, with the sources of light coming from their hearts. | Tom Baker
  • A lighthouse is not interested in who gets the light! It just gives it without thinking! Giving light is its nature! | Mehmet Murat ildan
  • Don't forget that maybe you are the lighthouse in someone's storm. | Unknown
  • Darkness reigns at the foot of a lighthouse. | Japanese Proverb
  • She is like a revolving lighthouse; pitch darkness alternating with a dazzling brilliancy! | Henry James
  • He's the one I always run to / When the waves won't let me be / The lighthouse that I turn to / On a rough and troubled sea | Mario William Vitale
  • Lighthouses are more helpful than churches | Benjamin Franklin
  • Lighthouses are not just stone, brick, metal and glass. There's a human story at every lighthouse; that's the story I want to tell. | Elinor DeWire

Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse

Read for Enlightenment - lighthouse books are a choice.

This lighthouse book named To The Lighthouse, written by Virginia Woolf is certainly a novel of philosophical consideration. And a must-read for a life-time book list. First published by Hogarth of London in 1927, Virginia and her husband Leonard viewed it as her most triumphant literary work.

The title points to her autobiographical reminisces of her childhood trips to St. Ives in Cornwall, where she noticed the Godrevy Lighthouse. Most visible from the end of the pier, as it's on an offshore island at the entrance to St. Ives Bay.4

Thus the book is influenced from this era in her life, yet it isn't the story of that time. Instead it begins with a family somewhat similar to hers, who are planning for a boat for a trip to an off-shore lighthouse. The ending of the book coincides with the family's final arrival at the lighthouse. Thus the title.

But it's not particularly a sequential story of what happens along the way. Instead it's more of a study of the psychological inner workings that underlie the family interactions. One reviewer says it's "her presentation of how individuals see and experience life."5

Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse book is divided into three sections. Each section has a different method of presenting the events, time-frame, and interactions. In 2010 it made Time's Best 100 Books of All Time (English language since 1923).6

See a Yale Overview>


More Lighthouse Books of Interest

Many who love lighthouses like to read lighthouse books on this topic. Especially popular are those books on the great lighthouses of Ireland. Do you love roaming the isles of lighthouse bookshops? Many Lighthouse Museums have lighthouse book areas. Our own Mini Lighthouse bookstore is here for you. See if anything strikes your fancy:


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