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 2015
great lines other years, other lines: 2013 or 2014 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


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nib from SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL by Herman Koch (May '15)
Patients can't tell the difference between time and attention. They think I give them more attention than the other doctors. But all I give them is more time. By the end of the first sixty seconds I've seen all I need to know. The remaining nineteen minutes I fill with attention. Or, I should say,  with the illusion of attention.

There are times when you run back through your life, to see whether you can locate the point at which it could still have taken a different turn.
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nib from BEING DEAD by Jim Crace (May '15)
A hundred years ago no one was silent or tongue-tied, as we are now, when death was in the room. They had not yet muzzled grief or banished it from daily life. Death was cultivated, watered like a plant. There was no need for whispering or mime.

At least their deaths had coincided. There can be nothing lonelier than to outlive someone you are used to lovin.
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nib from THE BRINK by Austin Bunn (May '15)
"Sure, you don't want to peak when you're seventeen," I said. "You don't want to be fifty and look at the Rutland High School yearbook like those were the good days.
"If I'm looking at my yearbook when I'm fifty," she said, "claw my eyes out."
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nib from MARK TWAIN'S NOTEBOOKS edited by Carlo Devito (May '15)
The last thing Mark Twain did in 19056 was to get drunk and deliver a lecture on temperance....

"Familiarity breeds contempt—and children."
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nib from AMERICIAN INNOVATIONS by Rivka Galchen (May '15)
But one day I woke up and heard myself saying, I am a fork being used to eat cereal. I am not a spoon. I am a fork. And I can't help people eat cereal any longer.
"You know what they say about time.," Jacob said idly. "It's what happens when nothing else does."
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 nib from MY STRUGGLE: Volume Four by Karl Ove Knausgård (May '15)
The countryside was like a tub filled to the brim with darkness. The next morning the bottom slowly became visible as the light was poured in and seemingly diluted the darkness.
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nib from H IS FOR HAWK by Helen Macdonald (Apr '15)
It took me a long time to realize how many of our classic books on animals were by gay writers who wrote of their relationship with animals in lieu of human loves of which they could not speak.

There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things, And then comes a day when you realize that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer.

So I leaned over the bed and spoke to my father who was not there. I addressed him seriously and carefully. I told him that I loved him and missed him and would always miss  him always. And I talked on explaining things to him, things I cannot now remember but while at the time wee of dear and burning importance. Then there was silence. And I waited. I did not know why. Until I realized it was in hope that an answer might come. And then I knew it was over. I took my father's hand i my own for the last time, squeezed it in a brief goodbye and quietly left the room.
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nib from OFF COURSE by Michelle Huneven (Apr '15)
"They sound like televangelists. Or Republicans. I have a terrible feeling they voted for Reagan."
"What's wrong with voting for Reagan?"
She sat up. "Oh my god." She snatched at the sheets. "You?" She scooted away from him, wailed, "I can't believe I've had sex with a Republican."
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nib from A PHILOSOPHY OF WALKING by Frédéric Gros (Apr '15)
And when you are walking, there is only one sort of performance that counts: the brilliance of the sky, the splendor of the landscape. Walking is not a sport.

"As if you could kill time without injuring eternity." - Henry David Thoreau
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nib from THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan (Apr '15)
He kept his eyes closed, conscious that all around him the world lived as he had never known it had lived, and, just as he finally opened himself up to this joy, he also realized that he was dying.
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nib from FOUNDATION: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors by Peter Ackroyd (Mar '15)
The building of Stonehenge was the largest and most protracted program of public works in the history of England.

Heavy drinking was commonplace, as it has been in all stages of English history. Fifty percent of the people died before the age of thirty, and ninety percent before the age of fifty. Death was always close at hand.
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nib from DEAD WAKE by Erik Larson (Mar '15)
On the morning of the ship's [the Lusitania] departure from New York, a notice had appeared on the shipping pages of New York newspapers. Placed by the German Embassy in Washington, it reminded readers of the existence of the war zone and cautioned that "vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction" and that travellers sailing on such ships "do so at their own risk."

She and  friend joked about what to do if the ship were attacked. "Our stewardess laughed" Mrs. Lines recalled, "and said we would not go down, but up, as we were well loaded with munitions."
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nib from 10:04 by Ben Lerner (Mar '15)
"And the skin is where a lot of the information is entering now. The pores. The pores are the poets of the skin."
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nib
from MR. MAC AND ME by Esther Freud (Feb '15)
I stand on the beach and tilt back my head and I count the few stars that have pierced the cloud. There are less than a dozen, although the longer I look the more I find, and I'm searching so hard that at first I don't notice the shadow of the Zeppelin, it's belly only slightly blacker than the cloud. I stand quite still. It's got me by the eye.
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 nib
from
A KIM JONG-IL PRODUCTION by Paul Fischer (Feb '15)
By 1998, depending on whose numbers you go by, between sixty thousand and two million North Koreans — as much as 10 percent of the entire population — had died from famine.
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nib
from PERCIVAL EVERETT by Virgil Russell (Feb '15)
"My son was born probably thirty years before you. You see, I'm a very old man."
"Not so old," she said. "You still have a twinkle in your eye."
"Cataracts."
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nib from
OUR ONLY WORLD: Ten Essays by Wendell Berry (Feb '15)
The only thing I would really enjoy shooting is a drone.

A government that can forbid two women or two men to marry might with better reason forbid two bigots to marry.
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nib from
THE TRANSCRIPTIONIST by Amy Rowland (Feb '15)
The room is the color of old opossum or new pumice, the color of newspapers without ink. Gray
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nib
from
OUTLINE by Rachel Cusk (Jan '15)
On the contrary, it angered her when people spoke of things she had no knowledge of: when a Venezuelan friend came to visit, for instance, she refused to believe that such a country existed because she had never heard of it.

He is unfortunately an untidy man, a philosopher, who leaves his books and papers everywhere, and while my apartment is not fragile in its beauty, it needs to be dressed a certain way to look its best.
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nib from
TOLSTOY'S FALSE DISCIPLE: The Untold Story of Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Chertkov by Alexandre Popoff (Jan '15)
It's little known that Tolstoy was under police surveillance for fifty years and that he was never free from it until his last hour in 1910.
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nib from
HOW TO SIT by Thich Nhat Hanh (Jan '15)
As we sit, the river of feelings runs through us and it's tempting to let a strong feeling pull us downstream. Instead, we sit on the riverbank and onserve the feelings as they run through us.

When you sit alone quietly, it's something beautiful, even if nobody sees it. When a little flower appears in a crack between two rocks, it's a beautiful sight. People may never see it, but that's okay.
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nib
from
THE BIG SEVEN by Jim Harrison (Jan '15)
A block down the street on a fair late summer morning a runner passed him with a nod. It was a lovely girl in shorts, perhaps in her late teens. It was a warm morning and she was in tight shorts with a butt as lovely as Mona's. He cautioned himself against thinking about Mona's body now that he and Diane had adopted her.

Every night before bed I step out and look at the stars. It's good for the humility.

He had frequently worried about whether he would see Diane in the afterlife. Of course he wanted to but perhaps death made us not care about our worldly life.

Lemuel had said concluding his suicide note, "It looks like I will go to prison forever. There are no birds there. I can't live without my birds every morning."
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nib from
WAIT FOR SIGNS by Craig Johnson (Jan '15)
He took a nip and cast a glittering gimlet of a dark eye toward the trio.
"Do me a favor?"
"What's that?"
"Shoot me."
I smiled. "No."
"It's all I want for the holidays, a bullet in the back of the head."

"I have found in most relationships with women it is best to remember their birthdays but forget their age." - Bear
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nib from
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr (Jan '15)
She can hear the bombers when they are three miles away. A mounting static. The hum inside a seashell.
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nib
from
LOITERING: New and Collected Essays by Charles D'Ambrosio (Jan '15)
As a young man, I tried Europe, but the woman I was meeting, on our second day in Paris, said she needed time alone, and went off to Barcelona with somebody else.

Late at night my grandfather would crush saltine crackers in a coffee mug and fill it with cold milk. That was his favorite snack, and the sweetest memory my father ever shared with me.

"Whereas prison, well, what is it, really? A shortage of space compensated for by an excess of time." - Joseph Brodsky

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nib from
THE DOG by Joseph O'Neill (Jan '15)
I am very silent. I am William the Silent and Harpo Marx and Justice Thomas.


     other years, other lines: 2013
or 2014 or 2016 or 2017


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