As a reader, there’s nothing more joyous than finding a beautifully written sentence or passage, one that lingers, enlightens, unsettles – makes you want to dog-ear a page, or reach for a pen to underline it or add your own impressions to the margin.

Here are some book quotes that I’ve been living with for the last little while.

On survival:


“The story of the little girl who was swallowed up by the sea after she’d lost her footing while walking along the edge spread through the foul-smelling belly of the boat like an anaesthetic or laughing gas, transforming the single bulb into a polar star and the biscuits soaked in motor oil into butter cookies. The taste of oil in our throats, on our tongues, in our heads sent us to sleep to the rhythm of the lullaby sung by the woman beside me.” – Kim Thuy, “Ru,” 2012: 5

On Love:

The Handmaid's Tale

Falling in love, we said; I fell for him. We were falling women. We believed in it, this downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said […] and love, like Heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting for it, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.

And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember aftewards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with such a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done.” – Margaret Atwood, “The Handmaid’s Tale,”1986: 282

On Creativity:

Yes Please

“Creativity is connected to your passion, that light inside you that drives you. That joy that comes when you do something you love. That small voice that tells you, “I like this. Do this again. You are good at it. Keep going.” That is the juicy stuff that lubricates our lives and helps us feel less alone in the world.”  – Amy Poehler, “Yes Please,” 2015: 222

On Wisdom & Aging:

“Getting older helps you develop X-ray vision. The strange this is that the moment people start looking at you less is when you start being able to see through people more. You get better at understanding what people mean and how it can be different from what they say. Finally the phrase “actions speak louder than words” starts to make sense.

You can read people’s energies better and hopefully that means you get stuck talking to less duds. You also may start to seek out duds, as some weird emotional exercise to test your boundaries. You use the word “boundaries.” You can witness bad behaviour and watch it like you would someone else’s child having a tantrum. Gone are the days (hopefully) when you take everything personally and internalize everyone’s behavior. You get better at knowing what you want and need. You can tell what kind of underwear people are wearing.

Lastly, because you are a superhero, you are really good at putting together a good team. You can look around the room and notice the other superheroes because they are the ones noticing you.”  – Amy Poehler, “Yes Please,” 2015: 100-101

On Life & Chance:

In The Unlikely Event

In the unlikely event…she hears the flight attendant saying in her head. Life is a series of unlikely events, isn’t it? […] One unlikely event after another, adding up to a rich, complicated whole. And who knows what’s still to come?” – Judy Blume, “In the Unlikely Event,” 2015: 394

Who knows, indeed.

A :)

14 thoughts on “Quotables

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  1. I hadn’t seen that cover for The Handmaid’s Tale before, but it’s interesting, because although I haven’t read the book for over 15 years, I still remember the part about letters and language feeling tactile to the narrator, like scrabble letters. Absolutely true how great writing sticks with you. And I also remember those parts of Yes Please (but then I did read it recently!). The part about getting older was one of the reasons I wasn’t sure it would appeal to younger readers, although they made me smile :-) Not sure I can yet tell what kind of underwear people are wearing – something for me to work on! ;-)

    1. You know, the cover was new for me too. I loved the depiction of the white wings of their uniforms. Yes! The Scrabble being tactile, and also the icebreaker game she plays with the Commander. This is fresh in my mind because I just re-read it. We read it in school, but revisiting it was in some ways more powerful as an adult than a young adult. Maybe because I have experiences I can relate to. Yes, I can see some younger readers not quite “getting” the advice in “Yes Please.” But I’m grateful for the book coming into my life when I needed some big sister wisdom. Hah, I hadn’t really thought about trying to tell what kind of underwear people have on, until reading that passage, and now I find myself thinking about it. Hilarious, eh? Thanks for chatting. :D

    1. I would rec “Ru” for sure. It won CBC Canada Reads this year, which motivated me to finally get it off my to-read list. :) It is fascinating both for its structure and subject matter. A short read too. I have to admit to being a little under-whelmed about the new Blume book. But having grown up with her books, I wanted to read it. I would say it was good but jumped a bit too much between POVs for my liking. Worth checking out if you are curious, though! Do you have any book recs? I am always looking to add to my list. ;)

      1. Thanks I will have to re Ru for sure. I have been on the fence with Judy Blume. I read her books as a preteen and loved them, I don’t wasn’t to be disappointed by having too high of an expectation.

      2. Neat, let me know what you think of “Ru.” :) I totally know what you mean about Blume. I think having high expectations is happened with me. I kept telling myself to approach it her new book with equanimity, but I’m not sure I was able to in the end. I suppose the books that stay with me make me feel in a memorable way, and that didn’t quite happen for me this time.

      3. I have recently read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters and really liked it. I think it would make a great PBS mini series. It was a little spooky but I liked that, I wanted to keep reading to figure out what was going on. I also read and really enjoyed Aftermath I forget the author, but I loved it. It was set in Germany when the war ended and the allies had taken over control. I liked that it told a different side of the war rather than what was happening in Britain. It was a different point of view. Right now I am reading Go Set a Watchman. I still haven’t decided what I think of it yet. The first part was al little slow and I was getting annoyed, but now it is picking up speed. I will let you know once I am done, unless you have read it already.

      4. Thanks for sharing what you’re reading! I haven’t read any of those books yet, although I’ve been meaning to read both the Waters book at “Go Set a Watchman.” I heard mixed reviews about the latter. I wonder if it’s a case of the book not being able to live up to the anticipation? Kind of like what I experienced with the Blume book, actually. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Watchman. :)

  2. Love this post Anita. It’s so much fun to visit what you’re reading. And thank you for your comments on my blog. Has been a week of deadlines but I’ve just finished up my work and have to tell you, you gave me such a lift this week. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Lindy! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the post. :) I will try to share book quotes every month, based on my latest reads. It was such bookish fun to share, I must say! I hope meeting your deadlines went well. Were you able to enjoy the long weekend?

      1. Yes! I did both those things – finished up my work (just this afternoon) and managed to enjoy some of the weekend. Attended my daughter’s triathlon yesterday morning in the brilliant sunshine as she swam in Lake Ontario. And jut now finished a blog post! Hope you enjoyed this beautiful summer weekend too?!

      2. Oh fantastic! The triathlon must have fun to watch. :) Yes, my long weekend has been great, thanks. Still can’t believe it is August, though!

  3. Thanks for sharing these samples of writing that stuck with you. It’s so cool when writing does that. My favorite is the thoughts on aging and wisdom, probably because in my forties, I can relate to it, the contrast between how I am with people now vs. twenty years ago.

    1. Oh, I agree with you! I go back to that wisdom & aging quote quite often to remind myself of what I’ve learned along the way. Every once in a while, I feel my boundaries slip, but life is never short of chances to reinforce them, hah. People are good for that. ;) Thanks so much for your thoughts and for stopping by!

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