Everyone loves a good book quote. Sometimes they get plastered all over walls and various stationary items and crockery. Sometimes they get mis-used and quoted; how many times have you seen the coffee spoons quote from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” used, and always incorrectly?
But some quotes just grab you by the throat and don’t let go, because they just speak to you in a way that is indescribably deep. These are the best kind of literary moments, and what I want to show off today.
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
“Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don’t do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.”
I still insist on my cup of stars…
2+3 . Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf
“It seems that a profound, impartial, and absolutely just opinion of our fellow-creatures is utterly unknown. Either we are men, or we are women. Either we are cold, or we are sentimental. Either we are young, or growing old. In any case life is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows. And why, if this — and much more than this is true — why are we yet surprised in the window corner by a sudden vision that the young man in the chair is of all things in the world the most real, the most solid, the best known to us–why indeed? For the moment after we know nothing about him.
Such is the manner of our seeing. Such the conditions of our love.”
“Kind old ladies assure us that cats are often the best judges of character. A cat will always go to a good man, they say[.]”
I can verify this as truth. Cats who have taken years to like people walk straight up to my fiancèe and plonk themselves on his lap. He’s a veritable cat whisperer. My own dog loves him more than she loves me, despite me being the one who rescued her from the pound, feeds her, walks her and spoils her like the biggest canine brat that ever lived.
Also, I could probably just quote the entirety of Jacob’s Room. It is a beautiful and very underrated book.
4. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
This was an amazing book to read as my first book of the year, and foreshadowed a huge amount of what was to come. Followed by Three Guineas, it incited a rage within me and has spurred me on to do what I can for women writers and, most importantly, for myself.
5. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
“He could not forget the touch of her arms around his neck, impatiently felt as it had been at the time; but now the recollection of her clinging defence of him, seemed to thrill him through and through,—to melt away every resolution, all power of self-control, as if it were wax before a fire.”
This is one of those moments in a book that just makes your heart jump into your mouth. I completely forgot the world whilst reading this section of the book!
6. Persuasion by Jane Austen
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.”
That moment. Tears welled up in my eyes and I hugged the book. I’m an emotional being.
7. Orkney by Amy Sackville
“I watch its shifts and changes. It is powder-blue, it is amethyst, it is black, bruised, blood-purple, garnet, calm and flat, harmless, or biding its time. It is a clear night, tonight. The soft dimming into evening; all the old, dead ghosts of stars, haunting the clear sky, brightening against the dark in the glimmerans. Loverly islanders’ word for twilight. How she’d love that. Did I have that from her?
If you haven’t read this beautiful book yet, please do. It is utterly delicious and beautifully descriptive. If you don’t like slow burning, descriptive novels, maybe give it a miss, but since I do love that kind of thing, I was held entranced for days by this book.
8. Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield
“She is never alone when she has Her Books. Books, to her, are Friends. Give her Shakespeare or Jane Austen, Meredith or Hardy, and she is Lost – lost in a world of her own. She sleeps so little that most of her nights are spent reading.”
This book was hilarious. I’m so excited to see what the Provincial Lady gets up to next!
9. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovich
“Fuck me, I thought. I can do magic.”
Indeed. This series is hilarious!
10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
“When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didn’t know.
“Oh, sure you know,” the photographer said.
“She wants,” said Jay Cee wittily, “to be everything.”
Everyone feels like this. I feel like this. The Bell Jar came at a perfect time for me.