home | site map | reviews | bookstore traveler | book awards     24books.org
 2014
great lines other years, other lines: 2013 or 2015 or 2016 or
2017
My book journals are full of great lines from the books I have read, lines that caught my mind's eye. So, I throw them out here for you to read. Try them on. Take them for a spin. If they don't work for you, no problem, you're sure to find your own. My hope is that some of these words will draw you into some of these fine books. Sharing is good. John



nib from The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Dec '14)
"All my life, when I've walked around the streets or been in workplaces or at school, I've immediately sensed how instinctively, how INTENSELY people resent other people. Everyone's continually at the limits of their patience, on the brink of losing their cool. You sense the potential for violence."
_____

nib from The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabielle Zevin (Dec '14)
"No, she was not suicidal." A.J. paused. "She was a terrible driver who thought she wasn't."

From his point of view, the only thing worse than a world with big chain bookstores was a world with NO big chain bookstores. At least the big stores can sell ten thousand units of publishers' dreck so that Island gets to sell one hundred units of literary fiction.

"I love Island Books with all my heart. I do not believe in God. I have no religion. But this to me is as close to a church as I have known in this life. It is a holy place. With bookstores like this, I feel confident in saying that there will be a book business for a very long time."
_____

nib  from Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison by Ted Kooser (Dec '14)
All night, in gusty winds,
the house has cupped its hands around
the steady candle of our marriage,
the two of us braided together in sleep,
and burning, yes, but slowly,
giving off just enough light so that one of us,
awakening frightened in darkness,
can see.
___

New snow has draped its bed sheets
over a month's old furniture
and with its icy dead-bolt locked the house
where January lived.
___
 
How important it must be
to someone
that I am alive, and walking,
and that I have written
these poems.
This morning the sun stood
right at the end of the road
and waited for me.
_____


nib from The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami (Dec '14)
"But the sheep man said you didn't exist. And besides –" he girl raised her finger to her tiny lips. I held my tongue. "The sheep man has his world. I have mine. And you have yours, too. Am I right?"


I was reading at my desk when I heard the sound of the lock turning, and the sheep man entered with a tray of doughnuts and lemonade.
_____

nib from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Dec '14)
Perhaps he would have managed to hide his sins better from his wife had he anticipated that the news would have such an effect on her.
_____

nib from The Son by Philipp Meyer (Nov '14)
It had become clear to me that the lives of the rich and famous were not so different from the lives of the Comanche: you did what you pleased and answered to no one.
_____

nib from Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford (Nov '14)
"Some people are better as ideas than as humans, Mr. Bascombe. My father was that sort of man. I think he thought of himself as an idea more than as a man. Our race suffers from that."

Tedd simply died one morning while sitting, an oversized baby, in the Atlantic surf wearing pink bathing trunks. An aneurysm. "Dead. At sixty-four," as Paul Harvey used to say. Ann, who was on the tenth-floor balcony watching him with pleasure, saw him topple over face-into-the-sea. She thought he was playing a joke and laughed and waited for him to right himself. He
had a comic side.
_____

nib
from Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Nov '14)
"What do you live for?"
"Truth and beauty," he says, deadpan.
"You like the job?"
"I don't hate it."
_____

nib from Widow Basquiat
by Jennifer Clement (Nov '14)
She always keeps her heroin inside her beehive hairdo. The white powder hidden in the tease and spit. The cops can't find it.
_____

nib from Bark
by Lorrie Moore (short stories) (Oct '14)
     Soccer Dad: The Musical
"Bummer," said Ira, his new word for "I must remain a neutral as possible" and "Your mother's a whore."

     Wings
"Sometimes at home I think the ringing in my ears might be the phone and I pick it up, hoping it might be you."
_____

nib
from Command and Control by Eric Schlosser (Oct '14)
The same energy that powered the sun and the stars could be harnessed to make cities disappear.

"You can't have this kind of war," Eisenhower said at a national security meeting a couple of years later. "There just aren't enough bulldozers to scrape the bodies off the streets."
_____

nib from Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade in Great Books
 by Nick Hornby (Oct '14)
We are never allowed to forget some books are badly written; we should remember that sometimes they're badly read, too.

Please spend every last penny you have on books from independent bookstores, because otherwise you'll end up as sour and as illiterate as the English.
_____

nib from The Search for Heinrich Schlögel
by Martha Baillie (Oct '14)
A breeze as delicate as a surgeon, lifted the skin of the sea and folded it back.

Two weeks ago, I left on foot, I crossed the Artic Circle, I walked for two weeks, or maybe for thirty years.
_____

nib
from Eyrie by Tim Winton (Sep '14)
Angels move away, mate. They die. They get old. They leave you on your own.
_____

nib from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki: and His Years of Pilgrimage
by Haruki Murakami (Aug '14)
We're not aiming at producing zombies. We want to create a workforce that does what their company wants them to do, yet still believe they're independent thinkers.
_____

nibfrom The Color Master by Aimee Bender (Aug '14)
The ogre's wife disliked firmly only one aspect of her husband: his interest in eating the children of humans.

_____

nib
from
Still Writing by Dani Shapiro (Jul '14)
Think about it: have you ever spent an hour reading a great book, and then had that sinking, queasy feeling of having wasted time?

E.L. Doctorow once compared writing to driving down a country road on a dark and foggy night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make it all the way home just by slowly creeping along.

quoting Annie Dillard - "Sometimes part of a book simply gets up and walks away. The writer cannot force it back in place. It wanders off to die."

I can't tell you when my mother and I began the fight that lasted the whole of our lives together but I know the moment it ended. On a beautiful late spring evening, I pulled into my driveway and saw Michael standing on our front porch, phone in hand. I lowered my car window and he looked at me and I knew that my mother was dead.
_____

nib from & Sons by David Gilbert (Jul '14)
I don't believe in the romance of writing, in inspiration, in characters taking over, in any of that sham magic. I know exactly what I do. I sit alone in a room all day, those days starting mostly at night, and I chip away until there's a likeness of a book on my desk, about yay high.

Perhaps that was why these new Alice Munro stories were more violent and lurid, like Hitchcock pushing Chekhov down the stairs.
_____

nib
from The Rise & Fall of Great Powers Tom Rachman (Jul '14)
Some people have children expressly so they'll be looked after in old age. They want adulation, guaranteed, even when they're no longer worthy of it. The love they give is only because they expect it in return.

...seven days of R&R (rest and recreation) or, as the troops called it, I&I (intoxication and  intercourse)
_____

nib from Carsick by John Waters (Jul '14)
It's hard to image today, but in the early sixties my parents expected me to hitchhike home everyday from high school. Of course perverts were out there, and I hitchhiked every day with a hard-on hoping one would pick me up and give me a blowjob. Many did.

I walk to the exit ramp and decide to try a second version of my hitchhike sign: MIDLIFE CRISIS
_____

nib from My Struggle: Book Three (Jun '14)
Inside my room there was only one thing I longed for, and that was to grow up. To have total control over my own life. I hated Dad, but I was in his hands, I couldn't escape his power.
____

nib
from
Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash (Jun '14)
Could you stay depressed with a decent scotch in your paper cup, and Underdog smiling overhead?
   [in NYC and partying during the Macy's Thanksgiving parade]

We never talked about the fact that she was dying, or what she was heading into. I think we both believed there'd be time. But it all went so quickly.
_____
nib
from My Struggle: Book 2 (Jun '14)
Everyday life, with its duties and routines, was something I endured, not a thing I enjoyed, nor something that was meaningful or that made me happy.

One's self-image not only encompasses the person you are but also the person you wanted to be, could be or once had been. For the self-image there was no difference between the actual and the hypothetical.

...we never feel more strongly and passionately about life than in our teenage years, when we step into the world for the first time, as it were, and all our feelings are new feelings

Before, I had always been deep inside myself, observing people from there, like from the back of a garden. Linda [his wife] brought me out, right to the edge of myself, where everything was near and everything seemed stronger.
_____

nib from
My Struggle: Book 1 (Jun '14)
I have always had a great need for solitude. I require huge swaths of loneliness and when I do not have it, which has been the case for the last five years, my frustration can sometimes become almost panicked, or aggressive.

If there is anything I miss from my childhood it has to be that laughing uncontrollably with my brother over some tiny stupidity.
_____

nib from The Yard by Alex Grecian (Jun '14)
If all men were sane, we would be blacksmiths.
_____

nib
from
The Plover by Brian Doyle (Jun '14)
Hey Ocean, I killed some of your fish, all right? But they would have died eventually anyway, you know that, I just borrowed the ends of their lives, is all.

quoting Annie Dillard - "The sea pronounces something, over and over, in a hoarse whisper I cannot quite make out."
_____

nib from Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins (Jun '14) ... sorry, it's hard for me to stop quoting Tom - John
One feels as if one's posterior is bouncing on a beanbag chair made of steel wool.

quoting Robert Motherwell - "The best toys are made of paper."

Today, my voice sounds as if it's been strained through Davy Crockett's underwear.
     [on his accent]

Pastor of the Warsaw Baptist Church, Dr. Peters was a tall, gaunt, and pale, with a damp smile and cold damp palms: shaking his hand was like being forced to grasp the flaccid penis of a hypothermic zombie.

Then one Sunday near the end of the month, New Yorkers awoke to a morning as sweet and fine and budding with optimism as Goldilock's training bra.

Any satisfaction I might have taken from this warm and ego-bolstering exchange was immediately chilled when I turned to find William F. Buckley, emperor penguin of the American right, sneering at me with horror and revulsion he would have displayed had he come upon a bed bug lounging in his satin sheets.
    [while at a party, as Tom Wolfe was telling Robbins how popular he was with Wolfe's students]

Christmasthat old pagan holiday that seems to come once every ten years when one is a child and once every ten days when one grows up.
_____

nib
from A Serpent's Tooth by Craig Johnson (May '14)
"Is she really writing a book?"
"God help us." He rested an elbow on the cherry counter. "For the last ten years."
The Bear interrupted. "Tell her not to feel bad. I cannot type either."

I shook the hand as somewhere in the bowels of the massive building the Marshall Tucker Band began trying to get us to see what their women had done to them.
_____

nib
from The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (May '14)
We are sitting here together, my digestion and I. I am reading a book and it is working away at the lunch I ate a little while ago.
_____

nib from
The Unwinding by George Packer (Apr '14)
No one can say when the unwinding began, when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way.
_____

nib from
The World Afloat by M.A.C. Farrant (Apr '14)
I wouldn't mind taking my life apart and returning it in an attractive box.
_____

nib
from
In Paradise by Peter Matthiessen (Mar '14)
In another Dr. Mengele performed his hideous experiments on twin children. And some where herethis haunts hima wistful child scrawled on the wall, "No butterflies live here."
_____

nib from Why Are You So Sad? by Jason Porter (Mar '14)
Our lives capture us. They tie our arms behind our body in insurance payments and greeting cards.

_____

nib from Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala (Mar '14)
Then I saw Steve's face, I'd never seen him like that before. A sudden look of terror, eyes wide open, mouth agape. He saw something behind me that I couldn't see. I didn't have time to turn around and look.

When our friend Lester walked into my blackened room and told me he was so glad I was alive, I shouted at him. Didn't he get it, stupid man, I wanted to die.
_____

nib
from We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (Mar '14)
My mother wasn't having a baby; she was having a nervous breakdown.
     [on being sent to live with her grandparents as a child]
_____

nib
from The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner (March '14)
There were things I had no choice but to overlook, like wind effect on clouds, while flying down the highway at a hundred miles an hour. I wasn't in a hurry, under no time constraint. Speed doesn't have to be an issue of time.
_____

nib
from
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (Feb '14)
The voice of the surf heard now and then was a positive pleasure, like the speech of a brother. It was something natural, that had its reason, that had a meaning.

A deadened burst of mighty splashes and snorts reached as from afar, as though an ichthyosaurus had been taking a bath of glitter in the great river.
_____
 
nib from A Day at the Beach by Geoffrey Wolff (Feb '14)
I would hate to believe that we merely drifted away from what we had loved in each other without even noticing.
_____

nib
from
Kurt Vonnegut Letters edited by Dan Wakefield (Feb '14)
I think big business is a terrible thing for the spirit of the country, as our spirit is the best thing about us.

I don’t have anybody to show off for anymore.
     [on the sadness of his older brother’s death]
_____

nib
from
Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson (Jan '14)
I couldn’t die–I had too many women who would kill me.
_____

nib from
Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson (Jan '14)
You sold a barefoot man in a bathrobe a shotgun?
_____

nib
from
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (Jan '14)
The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being ant kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living.

Why is it that we understand playing the cello will require work, but we attribute writing to the magic of inspiration?

Over the years I’ve come to realize that I write the book I want to read, the one I can’t find anywhere.
_____

nib
from
Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson (Jan '14)
“Is that a government-issue Colt .45 I see in a pancake holster at the small of your back?” I stood there a moment.
“Why, does it make me look fat?” 

There was a low rise to the east of town before the breaks of the northbound water crumpled the plains like an unmade bed.
_____

nib
from
Almost Invisible by Mark Strand (Jan '14)
When he gets back to his room, he sits at a small table and looks at the book open before him. Its pages are blank, which is why he is able to gaze at them for hours.


     other years, other lines: 2013 or 2015 or 2016 or 2017


home | blog | site map | reviews | bookstore traveler | book awards | to the top
.