20 quotes from the books I’ll never let go

tumblr_ni6k7mHFi41t1prrio1_500Thanks to my dear grandmother, I’ve been a voracious reader since I was four. She was 60 then, managing her responsibilities as an English teacher, an M.A. student and my godmother with enviable ease. While kids my age were enchanted with fairytales, this superwoman was steadfast on giving me dope on the paradox of Hamlet’s nature or decoding the unfulfilled desires in Eliot’s The Waste Land.

So it’s no surprise that I now live in a mini library and treasure every book that I’ve read. If you browse through the fictional collection, you’ll find hidden letters, flowers pressed in between yellow pages and pencil notes neatly written in the margin. These trinkets give my books a soul, a memory. Every time I think of ordering a new book, my mother rants and raves about how there is no space left in the house. But that doesn’t bother me much. And it shouldn’t bother anyone who loves to read. The more books you own, the more worlds you can escape into. Remember that a good book will never abandon you, even if your loved ones do.


While most of my friends are into reading, there are still a handful of them struggling to develop this habit or scrape beyond the first few pages. So I decided to handpick quotes from my top 20 list to help them choose something they can relate to. Here’s the platter:

“That night as I cried myself to sleep I knew that, somewhere in the sky, Karim was doing the same; and some of my tears were his tears, and some of his tears were mine.”
― Kamila ShamsieKartography

“They ran in the sunlight, creating their own breeze which pressed their dresses into their damp skin. Reaching a kind of square of four locked trees which promised cooling; they flung themselves into the shade to taste their lip sweat and contemplate the wildness that had come upon them so suddenly.”
― Toni MorrisonSula

“The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do no harm. Practise compassion. And do not gossip behind anyone’s back – not even seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouth do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space, and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone smile.”
― Elif ShafakThe Forty Rules of Love

“She had tried to forget him, realizing the inutility of remembering. But the thought of him was like an obsession, ever pressing itself upon her. It was not that she dwelt upon details of their acquaintance, or recalled in any special or peculiar way his personality; it was his being, his existence, which dominated her thought, fading sometimes as if it would melt into the mist of the forgotten, reviving again with an intensity which filled her with an incomprehensible longing.”
― Kate ChopinThe Awakening

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
― Virginia WoolfA Room of One’s Own

“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 PlathThe Bell Jar

“I was the one who found my sister dead,” she went on. “In autumn when I was in the first year. November. On a dark, rainy day. My sister was in the sixth-form at the time. I came home from my piano lesson at 6.30 and my mother was making dinner. She told me to tell my sister it was ready. I went upstairs and knocked on her door and yelled ‘Dinner’s ready’, but there was no answer. Her room was completely silent. I thought this was strange, so I knocked again, opened the door and peeped inside. I thought she was probably sleeping. She wasn’t in bed, though. She was standing by the window, staring outside, with her neck bent at a kind of angle like this, like she was thinking…”
― Haruki MurakamiNorwegian Wood

Books-Brews“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieAmericanah

“That same night, I wrote my first short story. It took me thirty minutes. It was a dark little tale about a man who found a magic cup and learned that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and rarely shed a tear. So he found ways to make himself sad so that his tears could make him rich. As the pearls piled up, so did his greed grow. The story ended with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand, weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife’s slain body in his arms.”
― Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner

“When two people are meant to be together, they will be together. It’s fate.”
― Sara GruenWater for Elephants

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

“Time’s passage through the memory is like molten glass that can be opaque or crystallize at any given moment at will: a thousand days are melted into one conversation, one glance, one hurt, and one hurt can be shattered and sprinkled over a thousand days.”
― Gloria NaylorThe Women of Brewster Place

“I feel like cotton candy: sugar and air. Squeeze me and I’d turn into a small sickly damp wad of weeping pinky-red.”
― Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.”
― Vladimir NabokovLolita

“We drove to the hotel and said goodbye. How hypocritical to go upstairs with a man you don’t want to fuck, leave the one you do sitting there alone, and then, in a state of great excitement, fuck the one you don’t want to fuck while pretending he’s the one you do. That’s called fidelity. That’s called monogamy. That’s called civilization and its discontents.”
― Erica JongFear of Flying

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”
― Ernest HemingwayThe Sun Also Rises

“You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.”
― Leslie Marmon SilkoCeremony

“She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Leisel kissed her best friend, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips. He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist’s suit collection. She kissed him long and soft, and when she pulled herself away, she touched his mouth with her fingers… She did not say goodbye. She was incapable, and after a few more minutes at his side, she was able to tear herself from the ground. It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on…”
― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief

“Each person is made of five different elements, she told me. Too much fire and you had a bad temper. That was like my father, whom my mother always criticized for his cigarette habit and who always shouted back that she should feel guilty that he didn’t let my mother speak her mind. Too little wood and you bent too quickly to listen to other people’s ideas, unable to stand on your own. This was like my Auntie An-mei. Too much water and you flowed in too many different directions. Like myself.”
― Amy TanThe Joy Luck Club


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