Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite book quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is a new feature for me that I’ve always seen on English Major’s Junk Food, one of my favorite blogs.  It’s run by The Broke and the Bookish, a new-to-me blog I discovered during BBAW.   Finally this week I’ve decided to participate!

This week’s topic is Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes

1. That’s one good thing about this world… there are always sure to be more springs.” – Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery

Doesn’t that quote just sum up the entire series beautifully?  I love Anne.

2. We were lost then.  And talking about dark!  You think dark is just one color, but it ain’t.  There’re five or six kinds of black.  Some silky, some wooly.  Some just empty.  Some like fingers.  And it don’t stay still.  It move and changes from one kind of black to another.  Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green.  What kind of green?  Green like my bottles?  Green like a grasshopper?  Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to a storm.  Well, night black is the same way.  May as well be a rainbow.” - Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

I think this is gorgeous, and so true.

3. “And this is our life, exempt from public haunt,
finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
sermons in stones, and good in everything.” - As You Like It by William Shakespeare

As You Like It is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and I love this quote.

4. “Shredding and slicing, dividing and subdividing, the clocks of Harley Street nibbled at the June day, counselled submission, upheld authority and pointed out in chorus the supreme advantages of a sense of proportion, until the mound of time was so far diminished that a commercial clock, suspended above a shop on Oxford Street, announced, genially and fraternally, as if it were a pleasure to Messrs. Rigby and Lowndes to give the information graüs, that it was half-past one.” – Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I knew I had to pick a quote from Mrs. Dalloway because I’m pretty sure I tried to quote the whole book in my review.  This one is just wonderful.  I love what it does with the concept of time and clocks, but also the way it uses language.

5. SPEAKING OF THE DEVIL

Just when I begin to believe English is lucky,
full of choices like trumpet and ash, curlicue,
olive, armrest and hostile, I see that its vastness

is urban, lonely: too many people live in its center,
and the environs are losing population fast.
Few are interested in leaving the inner cities of language,

so each tongue shrinks, deletes its consummate
geographies, copse and dell, ravine and fen,
boonies, coulées, bailiwicks, and sloughs.But English is not the only shrinking province.

I watch two French boys on the train
from Turin to Nice burn a pair of earphones,

delighted as the plastic withers, whitens,
sends up its little wick of toxic smoke. Watch
and wow and fuck, all the words they need to test

the butane’s power to make plastic disappear.
Not sure if I can understand their chat, they test me too.
The one with his thumb on the flame looks at me

from under lavish lashes, merest shadow
of mustache riding his budded lips, Diable,
he asks me, how you say him in English?

and I marvel at how few syllables
anyone needs to make a world. – Leslie Adrienne Miller

Sorry, it might be a bit much to quote an entire poem, but this is one of my all-time favorite poems.  I think it’s perfect.

5. “I wanted to tell him that I knew how he felt, though I probably did not.  How can you know what another person is going through when your own life is so different from his?  People had done this to me often enough, telling they knew how I felt because they had suffered this or that loss, felt some sort of pain.  The words were in my mouth to tell Lawrence that I knew what it was not to be able to make the family you want to have, not because you are a bad person or because you haven’t tried hard enough, but because you just can’t.  I could predict his response, his words, polite enough, thanking me for my empathy, my generosity of spirit.  And I could imagine his thoughts, that no, I couldn’t possibly empathize.  Our situations were not the same at all.” – The Untelling by Tayari Jones.

I don’t know how many times I’ve thought this or felt this, on both sides.  I love the way that Jones put that into words.

6.” She supposed that houses, after all – like the lives that were lived in them – were mostly made of space.  It was the spaces, in fact, which counted, rather than the bricks.” – The Night Watch by Sarah Waters.

Maybe you’ve heard me talk about The Night Watch?  I loved it and this quote sums up why.

7. “Sometimes you never feel meaner than the moment you stop being mean.  It’s like how turning on a light makes you realize how dark the room had gotten.  And the way you usually act, the things you would have normally done, are like these ghosts that everyone can see but pretends not to.” When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me is a novel heavily influenced by A Wrinkle in Time, another favorite of mine.  Isn’t this quote lovely?

8. “I think: perhaps there’s a light inside people, perhaps a clarity; perhaps people aren’t made of darkness, perhaps certainties are a breeze inside people, and perhaps people are the certainties they possess.” The Implacable Order of Things by Jose Luis Piexoto

I really should have featured The Implacable Order of Things during BBAW.  I don’t know any other book blogger who has read it and it is amazing.  So beautiful and perfect, though fairly upsetting.

9.” Is it her, will she know
What I’ve seen & done,
How my boots leave little grave-stone
shapes in the wet dirt,” Neon Vernacular by Yusef Komunyakaa

I recently reminded you of my love for Yusef Komunyakaa and these four lines are an example of why.  He takes something that is so simple (the shape of a footprint) and turns it into something so much bigger than that.  I love it.

10. “Days I have held,
days I have lost,

days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.”

“Midsummer, Tobago” by Derek Walcott

Another quote from a poem to round out the list.  Never was there a more perfect description of life slipping away.

I’ve really enjoyed participating in Top Ten Tuesday!  It think I’ll be back next week!

Poetry Wednesday – Leslie Adrienne Miller


Just a quick Poetry Wednesday before I head off to work!  I might have picked Leslie Adrienne Miller off the shelves because we share a first name, but then I became enchanted with her poetry.  I absolutely love it!  Her book is entitled The Resurrection Trade and I am going to share with you today the poem “Speaking of the Devil”, though it was very difficult to choose one.

SPEAKING OF THE DEVIL

Just when I begin to believe English is lucky,
full of choices like trumpet and ash, curlicue,
olive, armrest and hostile, I see that its vastness

is urban, lonely: too many people live in its center,
and the environs are losing population fast.
Few are interested in leaving the inner cities of language,

so each tongue shrinks, deletes its consummate
geographies,
copse and dell, ravine and fen,
boonies, coulées, bailiwicks, and sloughs.

But English is not the only shrinking province.
I watch two French boys on the train
from Turin to Nice burn a pair of earphones,

delighted as the plastic withers, whitens,
sends up its little wick of toxic smoke.
Watch
and wow and fuck, all the words they need to test

the butane’s power to make plastic disappear.
Not sure if I can understand their chat, they test me too.
The one with his thumb on the flame looks at me

from under lavish lashes, merest shadow
of mustache riding his budded lips,
Diable,
he asks me, how you say him in English?

and I marvel at how few syllables
anyone needs to make a world.

___________________________________

Man, I love this poem.  It’s perfect.   A killer ending, a beautiful transition and the conceit of language as world/city/country gets me every time.  Did you like “Speak of the Devil”?