Favorite Literary Quotes?
Hello dear readers (if any still exist after my prolonged absence).
I’m putting together a collage of sorts, and am looking for more excellently bookish quotes, or favorite quotes from books. I tend to forget to write down most of the quotes that I love while reading, so I don’t have all that many. I’d love to know what yours are to possibly add to my list.
Here are a number of mine:
I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
People who claim that they’re evil are usually no worse than the rest of us… It’s people who claim that they’re good, or any way better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of.
—Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
For what good is freedom of expression if you lack the means to express yourself?
—Roy Peter Clark, The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English
The relationship between book and reader is intimate, at best a kind of love affair, and first loves are famously tenacious. […] First love is a momentous step in our emotional education, and in many ways, it shapes us forever.
—Laura Miller, The Magician’s Book: A Sceptic’s Adventures in Narnia
“Choice” is sometimes not a choice at all. It is an outcome determined by the economic, physical, sociological, and political factors that surround women and move them toward the only action that allows them to survive at that point in their lives. Survival can sometimes be a woman’s act of staying alive, but it can also be her act of refusing to put what will become an impossible burden on her shoulders.
—Merle Hoffman, Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Boardroom
I learned that this is what “at least” means: Move on. Get over it. Let’s not talk about it. It could be worse, so it must be better.
—Jennifer Gilbert, I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of Life Through Events – the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don’t
I wonder at how many of us, feeling unsafe and unprotected, either end up running far away from everything we know and love, or staying and simply going mad. I have decided today that neither option is more or less noble than the other. They are merely different ways of coping, and we each must cope as best we can.
— Shani Mootoo, Cereus Blooms at Night
It was in books that he first learnt of his invisibility. He searched for himself and his people in all the history books he read and discovered to his youthful astonishment that he didn’t exist.
—Ben Okri, Astonishing the Gods
There is a group of people with no positive illusions, who get closer to the truth about themselves, who have a more realistic perspective of their abilities, of how the future will pan out and of the amount of control they have over things. Philip Larkin described them as ‘the less deceived’. Psychiatrists call them clinically depressed.
—Ian Leslie, Born Liars: Why We Can’t Live Without Deceit
Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.
—Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
i loved you on purpose
i was open on purpose
i still crave vulnerability & close talk
& i’m not even sorry bout you bein sorry
you can carry all the guilt & grime ya wanna
just dont give it to me
i cant use another sorry
you should admit
you’re mean/ low-down/ trifflin/ & no count straight out
steada bein sorry all the time
enjoy bein yrself
— Ntozake Shange, For colored girls who have considered suicide / When the rainbow is enuf
If you want to love
To the ends of the earth
With no shortcuts
As the crow flies
— Veronique Tadjo, As the Crow Flies
Truth is relative, and there is always something missing in truth that prevents it from being perfect.
— Nawal El Saadawi, The Novel
Words could be magic, but not in the abracadabra way that Deshawn believed. The magic that came from lips could be as cruel as children and as erratic as a rubber ball ricocheting off concrete.
— Tayari Jones, Leaving Atlanta
I realized then that advice is easily given. How can one really know what another woman has to suffer, or the problems she has to deal with, if one hasn’t been through the same trauma oneself.
—Bharati Ray, Daughters: A Story of Five Generations
What about you – do you have particular favorites of your own? What are they? Please do share in the comments!