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.

Quotable: Angels & Demons

Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. – August Wilson (Goodread’s Daily Quote 4/27/14)

 

One of the many reasons I love using Goodreads is the Daily Quote. Not a day goes by that I don’t check my GR home page for the day’s inspiration or thought. The Wilson quote above stopped me in my tracks.

When my brother and I were children, my mom told us we had an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Each day, each moment was simply a question of which side would win out. Would I listen to my angel or my devil? This duality was a simple case of right and wrong, strength and weakness. It’s a tactic I’ve used often raising three sons.

But what struck me about Wilson’s quote was the internalization of those demons. They don’t just sit on our shoulders whispering in our ear; they live inside of us.  From his viewpoint, it’s not enough to simply listen to right over wrong.

This is the story of Wilson’s work, his plays and essays. Yes, they are a portrait of the black experience in America, but they hold the same “everyman” appeal as his fellow playwright Arthur Miller. That is why his plays and this quote have stood the test of time.

To be our best selves, we must actively engage, battle, “wrestle” our internal demons. I think he’s right.

Daily Prompt: Quote Me

 

Although I’ve followed WordPress‘s Daily Prompt for many months, I have not often jumped on board and followed up with a post. They may rattle around in the back of my mind and inspire me days, weeks or even month’s later. But this one stopped me. This is easy I thought.

I love quotes. I Pin quotes. I Google Quotes. I eagerly await the Daily Quote from Goodreads. I stop what I’m reading to copy quotes.

But a quote to which I return over and over? That challenge narrowed the field considerably. I have several quotes about reading and books, but they are not where I turn for inspiration or motivation. When I’m in a bad place, or in need of a push, I turn to the brilliant Toni Morrison.

If you wanna fly

A November Reading Wrap-Up

I did post an individual review of my favorite book in November (actually my favorite book I read this year), Tell the Wolves I’m Home, but I managed to complete quite a few more novels. Here’s a wrap-up of what I read in November.

Harry Potter Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (audio)

4 stars

My sons and I have been listening to the Jim Dale audio versions of the Harry Potter series and this one did not disappoint us. I love how Rowling tackles the trials and tribulations of a boy growing up. Of course Harry’s world is fantastic and dangerous and full of wizards and magic, but at its core, this entire series is a coming-of-age saga. The four of us experience the books each in our own way. That’s an achievement in itself – the fact that my sons want to sit in the car just to listen to more is astonishing.

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

GoldGold by Chris Cleave

3.5 stars

I was so eager to read Cleave’s follow-up to Little Bee that it’s no wonder I was slightly disappointed. I loved the high stakes world of Olympic cyclists and I have to say that Cleave really understands how to write broken, wounded women, but I was never 100% invested in either of the protagonists. Gripping while it lasted, but didn’t stay with me long.

“Love wasn’t supposed to require the constant reassurance. But then again, love wasn’t supposed to sit watching its own reflection in a dead TV while temptation rode a blazing path to glory.”

LLots of Candlesots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (audio)

4 stars

Listening to Quindlen read her own essays was an easy pleasure. I admit there were moments when I felt “too young” to totally identify with her, but how can I complain about a book that makes me feel too young? Seriously though, I loved the prompt to think about where I am in my life — both what’s behind me and what’s ahead. Quindlen has a remarkable way of bringing me in tune with myself. There are no huge revelations of life-changers in this collection, just an interesting collection of thoughts from a very strong writer, woman and mother. I’m a little jealous.

“One of the useful things about age is realizing conventional wisdom is often simply inertia with a candy coating of conformity.”

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

4 stars

I almost feel bad about how much I liked this coming-of-age novel because it’s all so obvious and melodramatic, but I loved it. I fell right into this dysfunctional world of overwrought and seriously damaged teenagers and didn’t want to come out. Nothing subtle about Chbosky’s writing, but I didn’t expect anything else from YA. What he did successfully was capture that very particular moment in teenage-dom when you are both cynical and naïve.

“I guess what I’m saying is it all feels familiar. But it’s not mine to be familiar about. I just know another kid has felt this…all the books you’ve read have been read by other people. The songs you love have been heard by other people. The girl that’s pretty to you is pretty to other people. You know that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you are describing “unity.””

taftTaft by Ann Patchett

3 stars

Definitely not my favorite Patchett. As I expected she sets an incredible scene (in this case Memphis) and gives the readers a multitude of interesting characters, both black and white, trying to balance life’s joys and challenges. There are peaks of drama and a whole lot of internal monologues. All typical Patchett stuff. But this story, this setting, these characters never really captured my interest. Looking back on the body of her fiction work, I can say that her books just keep getting better and better.

“As a state, Tennessee was nearly as screwed up as Texas, in that a man’s allegiance wasn’t to the whole state, just that little part he comes from. People got stuck in the mountains. But in Memphis there’s a river running through the middle of things. It takes people out, brings other ones in. That’s why mountain people kept to themselves and delta people make love in alleyways.”

 

Flight BehaviorFlight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

4 stars

Kingsolver returns to the citizens of rural Appalachia, which she writes so well. Still socially responsible (and even a little preachy at times) she still drew me in to Dellarobia’s world. From the very beginning with its description of a flame-haired woman ready to throw away her life for a moment of rapture, I was hooked. Dellarobia’s natural intelligence and wit, combined with her desire for something more out of life, was a winning combination. Add to that a thought-provoking treatment of the global warming crisis, and I had a winning book.

“…and understood that he had become himself, in the presence of his wife. With the sense of a great weight settling, she recognized marriage. Not the precarious risk she’d balanced for years against forbidden fruits, something easily lost in a brittle moment by flying away or jumping a train to ride off on someone else’s steam. She was not about to lose it. She’d never had it.”

Monday Quote: Innocence

“I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.”— F. Scott Fitzgerald

A study of F. Scott Fitzgerald by Gordon Bryan...

A study of F. Scott Fitzgerald by Gordon Bryant. Published in Shadowland magazine in 1921. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw this quote on Goodreads this week and fell in love with it. It seemed to touch some place deep inside of me, identifying a feeling I wasn’t even aware that I had. No surprise that it comes from one of my favorite American authors. Fitzgerald has been stopping me in my tracks since high school. Every time I think I understand him, I discover something new. (He, by the way, is among the many fine authors censors have tried to ban over the years. I’m celebrating these authors during this week’s Banned Books Week.)

I’m fond of my “no regrets” way of looking at the past. There are certainly choices I would change with the knowledge of hindsight. And, occasionally, I shake my head in wonder that some of my mistakes did not cause more injury to me or others. When it comes down to it though, all of my mistakes are part of what led me to the road I ultimately chose.

Likewise, I would never want to go back and relive my glory days. In fact, I’m kind of hoping my most glorious days are still ahead of me. When I hear people tell me that high school was the happiest time in their lives, I feel a little bad. I know what they mean, but I definitely don’t agree. High school was good, again molding the choices I would make in my future, but I don’t want to go back and repeat it.

But “the pleasure of losing it again” is another idea altogether. I would like to go back to the feeling of innocence I had as a child. I marvel at that sense of innocence in my own children. I don’t think it’s possible to enjoy the loss of it while it actually happens, so, of course, it’s a romantic idea to think of loss as a pleasure.

Just thinking about this makes me question, “What is innocence?” Is it the belief in endless possibility? Is it a fearless sense of good in the world? Is it unhurt? Is it unwise?

I like to think it is a time before we become jaded by the ways of the world. A time before we think about the ways we can get hurt or let down by others. A time when we truly believe we have all the answers.

I don’t want to turn back the clock, but I would like to own a sense of innocence once again.

What about you?

Monday Quote – Autumn

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
―    Albert Camus

I’m so glad autumn, my favorite season, is here. I took some time this weekend to go through my closet, packing away summer tops and capris to make room for a few sweaters, some long-sleeves, and, best of all, some boots.

I am not really a fashionista, but I do like fall fashion – boots, scarves and cardigans that I’ve missed wearing. But it’s not all about the clothes. I associate fall with some of my favorite memories.

Yes, I was one of those geeky kids that loved the start of a new school year. Sure, I liked back-to-school shopping, but now I’ve come to realize that what I really liked was the newness, the fresh start. And, even though I now understand that school technically starts in summer, that sense of renewal is definitely a fall feeling for me.

Fall has the best weather in Chicago. Spring here is so wet (and usually so cold). It’s no fun to be outdoors when the ground is freezing and wet. Summer is really hot and muggy, making me feel constantly sticky and craving air-conditioning. Winter…well Chicago winters are just no one’s favorite season. It’s just plan cold (and snowy, and windy, and icy). But fall…fall is crisp and fresh. Temps in the 50s and 60s are exactly in my comfort zone.

Best of all, when I think I fall, I think of some of my favorite family memories. My wedding, despite its November date, occurred on the perfect fall day. I vividly remember the mild temperature and leaves crunching under my white shoes.

For as long as I’ve known my husband, we’ve gone apple picking each fall, tramping through the orchard in all kinds of weather, eating fruit right off the tree. In fact, this year is likely to be the first time we don’t honor this tradition. The summer drought has left slim pickings (literally). That, combined with our new fall soccer schedule, may prevent our annual trip.

Our house and our neighborhood look beautiful in autumn. Fall begins our holiday decorating months. We break out the scarecrows, corn stalks and mums. I light candles and cover our mantle in gourds and leaves. My sons and I walk down the block gathering leaves of all different shapes, colors and sizes. Our outdoor chimney gets going on the weekends, providing the scent and fall and a great evening gathering spot.

And, there’s football, which I’ve always loved watching. I just love Sunday afternoon Bears games, the boys and I all in our “comfy cozy” clothes, comfort food in the oven. I am just so grateful for my many blessings on these days.

What’s your favorite thing about autumn?

Monday Quote: I’m a little bit Liza

English: Liza Minnelli at The Heart Truth Fash...

“I feel myself trying to be charming, and then I realize I’m obviously trying to be charming, and then I try to be even more charming to make up for the fake charm, and then I’ve basically turned into Liza Minnelli: I’m dancing in tights and sequins, begging you to love me. There’s a bowler and jazz hands and lots of teeth.”
―    Gillian Flynn,    Gone Girl

Now we all know how much I loved Gone Girl (along with millions of other people), but that’s not why I chose this quote. I also don’t think I try to be particularly charming, but I sometimes I recognize that Liza Minnelli moment. I actually get caught up in the moment of just trying to be me.

During lunch with my coworkers last week, one of my new friends asked me what these “good reads” were that kept showing up on Facebook. So I explained the beauty of Goodreads, which led to another discussion of, “How do manage to read so many books?” which somehow led to, “And you have a blog?” As I tried to explain myself, and my penchant for sharing life’s moments with the virtual world, I felt the glare of the spotlight.

First of all I became the center of attention. This is a place I used to love. I literally grew up on stage. I can hold my own in the spotlight, but it’s no longer a position I seek. And I wondered in that moment how the conversation became about me? All of these people read. They all have families and most have on-line identities.

Then I started to feel a little defensive. As they asked me how I managed to keep up with all these things, the implied question seemed to be, “Why?” Why do I maintain so many threads of conversation? Am I trying to hard? Should I let something go? (I’m sure Liza has asked herself versions of these questions many times.)

In the end I laughed off the questions with a general, “I know. I’m just crazy.” (Deflection is another of my great skills.)

Once I was out of the spotlight, I realized that I am a little crazy — for imagining a spotlight where there was just inquiry.  I am so grateful that my new friends are interested in me, that we can chat and laugh at lunch. It’s just been so long since I’ve let new people into my life that I forgot for a minute how to do it.

All of this happened in the space of 5 minutes. It left me a little winded.  Poor Liza. This is her whole life.

Monday Quote: Marriage

I ask you to pass through life at my side—to be my second self, and best earthly companion.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Perhaps I should have chosen a quote about labor to celebrate the holiday today, but I have marriage on my mind. My beautiful niece Sara married her best friend Mike this weekend and love is still in the air.

Sara is the first “grandchild” to get married. I found my position as “aunt of the bride” a little hard to grasp since I remember vividly the baby shower some friends and I held for her mom. How could it be that the girl who was just a child at my own wedding could be the stunning woman in white walking confidently down the aisle?

But in the blink of an eye, I saw her journey from child to teenager to the amazing woman I am proud to call my friend. We can talk fashion or food or family or books, making time spent with her a real pleasure.

So, back to love and marriage. Sara and Mike, while young, are not naïve. In their years together, they have faced trials and traumas many mature marriages have not. Father Rich used the analogy of a metal that does not gain its strength until forged by fire. I keep going back to that image.

I have seen relationships fall apart in the face of heat, but the best couples bond together. I’ve always known that Mike adores Sara – it’s evident in the way he looks at her, enough to melt your heart. But now I know – I’ve witnessed – the way they hold each other up. It was with complete confidence that I stood with the rest of the guests to offer my blessing and full support of their marriage.

Of course I hope that their life together is smooth sailing, but I know better. I know we can never predict the challenges we’ll face. I am thankful every day for my husband who walks by my side as my best earthly companion.

I don’t have any pics of the bride and groom to share, but I do have a few shots from the evening.

 

My best earthly companion

Me and mine all dressed up.

a beautiful wedding.

 

 

Monday Quote – Back to School

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. ~Aristotle

Today is back-to-school for my sons, and I swear they are only focused on the “bitter” half of this quote.

  • No more sleeping in.
  • No more wearing pajamas ALL DAY.
  • No more afternoons at the pool.
  • No more endless hours of video games.

I can see where it might seem bitter.

But I think it’s sweet.

  • No more rotating baby-sitters.
  • No more coming home to “Operation Destroy the House.”
  • No more “Mom, there’s nothing to do.”

I have convinced myself (if not them) that deep inside, they’re really looking forward to the start of school. I know I am.

Caught dead reading…

First off, all credit for this image goes to a Tumblr blog I follow, Book Mania. When I saw this, I just cracked up and had to share with my own followers.

I do wonder what my book titles say about me. Most people who know my in real like just think, “Man, there’s a woman with too much time on her hands, she’s always got a new book with her.” But that just goes to show how wrong we can be.

This quote also reminds my of my mom’s advice to always ask myself how it would look on the 10 o’clock news before I do something (especially involving parenting decisions.) “Would you be able to stand by that decision if your saw it broadcast around the country?” Would I want everyone in the world to see me reading this book?

It got me thinking, which book would I not want to be “caught dead reading?”

I think I have to go with any of the 50 Shades… trilogy. I haven’t read them so I’m not judging (much), but of all the great literature I read, that’s not what I’d want to be caught with.

What about you?