Best Book Quotes of the Week

Best Book Lines

“You’re 12 years old and you don’t yet know that you don’t know shit.”

Jonathan Tropper, Everything Changes

I was looking for a good, engaging audio book. Saw the combo of Tropper (author) and Scott Brick (narrator) and felt pretty confident. Within minutes I heard the above line. My sons are 13, going on 12 tomorrow and 9. I feel like saying this on almost a daily basis.

 

“…to be an artist you had to run the risk of failing, you had to close your eyes and step into the dark.”

Mark Haddon, The Red House

I really, really disliked this book and felt completely frustrated by the confusing writing style, but when I read the above, I wondered if Haddon was trying to explain himself. To my mind, his risk with this novel didn’t pay off, but I was reminded that writers are artists. Without risk, we’d all be stuck in place.

 

“Now we can stand and decide. This is our first chance to choose our own unknown…As impossible as it sounds, we must keep walking.”

Dave Eggers, What is the What

I was so inspired by this book and Valentino’s story as I indicated in my review this week, but this is the quote that sealed the deal for me. No matter the circumstances, whatever the world throws at us, we have to “choose our own unknown.” It’s a great phrase.

 

“No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and this is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.”

L. Frank Baum, The Lost Princess of Oz

This was my favorite Goodreads Daily Quote this week. It’s never bad to be reminded of what’s truly valuable and important in this life. Ageless wisdom.

I’d love to know what lines have caught your attention.

Advertisements

Better late than never: What is the What

What is the What: cover image from Goodreads

What is the What: cover image from Goodreads

In lesser hands than Dave Eggers’, 500+ pages of tragedy, violence and deprivation would have been intolerable reading material. Fortunately for me, Eggers writes this story of the Lost Boys of Sudan with care, courage and even some humor so that I never lost interest or felt it went on too long.

Although it’s classified as fiction, it reads more like a memoir. We learn the personal tragedy of Valentino, a Sudanese boy whose world and family is ripped apart by war. He runs from his village under attack and just continues to run from refugee stop to stop, with violence and uncertainty trailing him.

“I do not want to think of myself as important enough the God would choose me for extraordinary punishment, but then again, the circumference of calamity that surrounds me is impossible to ignore.”

This “circumference of calamity” seems to expand exponentially as the book switches between his childhood and current day, when he is being robbed and held prisoner in Atlanta. Yet, the book never grows depressing or hopeless. Without creating any emotional distance, Eggers never over-dramatizes the tragedy; he uses the see-sawing timeline to continually remind the reader that our hero does indeed “get out.”

This novel (really a history lesson) never loses hope. These tens of thousands of children walked through a hell that never seemed to end, and yet many of them never gave up or gave in.

“Now we can stand and decide. This is our first chance to choose our own unknown…As impossible as it sounds, we must keep walking.”

It also helps that Valentino is so likably human, even when repeating the same mistakes.

“I wanted to be alone with my stupidity, which I cursed in three languages and with all my spleen.”

Truth be told, What is the What has been on my “To Read” shelf almost as long as it’s been published, but its sheer size and my love/hate relationship with Eggers’ books kept it from moving to the top. Three things finally pushed me to read this: 1) The VERY high recommendation of my friend Kathy, RA Librarian and someone who knows my reading taste well. 2) My 2014 reading goal to read more books that take place outside the US or England. 3) A May challenge in one of my on-line book groups to read a book with “What,” “Where,” “Who” or “Why” in its title.

Sometimes I just have to give it up to fate. This is an outstanding book.

Best Book Quotes of the Week

Best Book Lines

Imagine how many books I could read if I didn’t stop to write down quotes as I go along? Here I present the best lines I’ve read this week.

From Emma Donoghue, Frog Music

“This is what mothers do for their babies. They bite their tongues and let the world ride them into the ground.”

 

Not sure I want to think of myself as being ridden into the ground but Donogue gets down to business in this desperate moment of motherhood.

 

From Dave Eggers, What is the What

“I do not want to think of myself as important enough the God would choose me for extraordinary punishment, but then again, the circumference of calamity that surrounds me is impossible to ignore.”

I love the image of a “circumference of calamity.” He writes so incredibly well that, despite the devastation of his topic, I can’t wait to pick up the story again.

 

From Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home

“Because maybe I don’t want to leave the planet invisible. Maybe I need at least one person to remember something about me. ”

Although I’m not re-reading this favorite novel of mine this week, I was reminded of this quote by a new friend. Haven’t we all felt this way at one point, especially when we were teenagers.

I’d love to know what lines have caught your attention.

Also read in August

I’m proud that I managed full reviews of most of what I read this month, but there are, as always, some “also reads” this month…

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.

I picked this up as part of a reading challenge for my Goodreads book club. I was super excited because I’m a big fan of her work, and I heard from several people who said this was their favorite. Loved the beginning 1/3, liked the middle 1/3 and then tired of the last 1/3. I get her viewpoints and agree with most of them, but I hate being hit over the head with “message.” Plus, too many tidy coincidences. 3 stars for me.

“Now I’m starting to think he wasn’t supposed to be my whole life, he was just this doorway to me.”

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

Maybe I should not include this in “Also Read” because I didn’t finish reading it. I gave up, which is sad. I won this book at Book Lovers Night and was so excited, but after 100 pages of a sorry-for-himself middle-aged white man whining and wasting his time, I just had to move on to something else. Dave Eggers is such a talented writer. I wish he would concentrate his efforts on better stories with more interesting characters. 2 stars

“We’ve become a nation of indoor cats, he’d said.  A nation of doubters, worriers, overthinkers.  Thank God these weren’t the kind of Americans who settled this country.  They were a different breed!  They crossed the country in wagons with wooden wheels!  People croaked along the way, and they barely stopped.  Back then, you buried your dead and kept moving.”

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

I listened to this to and from work and liked it, but didn’t love it. I think the Greek chorus style of this book may have worked better as a paper read. I found myself tuning out of the repetitive nature of the narration. Plus, I’ve read better treatments of the Japanese immigration and internment, so I didn’t gleam anything new from this book. 3 stars

“We lost weight and grew thin. We stopped bleeding. We stopped dreaming. We stopped wanting.”

It’s Wednesdsay…must be time for a book-themed play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

Special thanks to Should be Reading for first introducing me to this weekly meme.

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?   I’m on the last disk of “Sacre Bleu” by Christopher Moore. The laugh-out-loud, irreverent telling of art history has made time alone in the car a real treat. Also getting into “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver, well-timed for the lovely weather we’ve been having. I have pretty high hopes for this one.

What did you recently finish reading? “A Hologram for the King” by Dave Eggers. I didn’t exactly finish this book, but I’m finished with this book. Too much complaining, self-indulgent, middle-aged white man for me. I gave up 2/3 of the way through.

What do you think you’ll read next? Picked up 5 new books at the library today, including Jonathan Tropper‘s latest and “Playing with Matches,” which has gotten lots of good buzz. Next up for the audio books, “The Buddha in the Attic” which I meant to read long ago.

W… W… W… Wednesdays

Since people seemed to enjoy this last week (and since I haven’t finished my latest book review…), I return with a book-themed play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

Special thanks to Should be Reading for this weekly meme.

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading? “A Hologram for the King” by Dave Eggers. I’m only 60 pages in and it’s off to a slow start, but I’m going to give it a little time because this is kind of like an Eggers tie-breaker for me. I really did not enjoy “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” but I loved “Zeitoun.” Plus I won this book from a library book club giveaway so I feel a sense of responsibility to give it an honest effort. I’m also listening to “Sacre Bleu” by Christopher Moore which is seriously hilarious.

What did you recently finish reading?The Magician’s Assistant” by Ann Patchett. This was my least favorite of all her novels I’ve read to date, but still an interesting story. “A Walk Across the Sun” by Corban Addison was a very powerful novel about human trafficking. Enjoy is the wrong word, but this is a marvelous book. (And the unfinished review for a future blog post.)

What do you think you’ll read next? Just ordered 6 more books at the library, to go with the 5 that haven’t come in. But I did pick up “Prodigal Summer” because my Goodreads group is reading Kingsolver this month and this is one of the few books by her that I haven’t read yet.

Related articles