I read a lot and when Reddit asked, “What’s the most beautiful paragraph or sentence you’ve ever read?” I did not know what to add. Such a good question but I have been thinking it over in my head ever since. I mean, how is it possible to choose among the thousands of books I have read? Often, I highlight sentences, passages, and paragraphs that stick out to me but there are just too many. Nonetheless, here are a few of my best-loved lines, and I’m curious to hear yours. Please add them in the comments below because this leads to food for thought and trips to the bookstore.
“She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
—J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”
“In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all of its moments — which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story.”
— Atul Gawande, Being Mortal
“ ‘Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.”
— A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
“I’m standing without you, on the bridge of the boat, cutting its way into the black night towards the end of the world. You never really understood my rejection. But there was one truth you did understand… that the one who speaks the language of reason is the one who loves the less.” – Benoîte Groult, Salt on our Skin
“You are here to live big. You are here to relax. You are here to be yourself. You are here to inspire and uplift. You are here to help. You are here to live out your potential. You are not here to live small. You are not here to internalize. You are not here to shrivel and doubt. You are not here to show off. You are not here to be anyone else.” – Daniela Henry, What If This Is Enough
“He who has no house will not build one now. He who is alone will be alone for some time. Will be wakeful, will read, will write long letters and will wander restlessly along the lanes when the leaves fall.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
“Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin. Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in. Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove. Dance me to the end of love.” – Leonard Cohen
“You will lose someone, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” – Anne Lamott
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollowe-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz.” – Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl
“Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”― Tina Fey, Bossypants
“There are many different kinds of bravery. There’s the bravery of thinking of others before one’s self. Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor fired a pistol, thank heavens. But he has made many sacrifices for his family, and put away many dreams.”
“Where did he put them?”
“He put them in a drawer. And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them. But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer… He does. And that is why he is brave.”
— Conversation between Mrs. Darling and Michael, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
“Three things no one has ever said about me:
You make it look so easy.
You are very mysterious.
You need to take yourself more seriously.”
― Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation
“Maybe… you’ll fall in love with me all over again.”
“Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?”
“Yes. I want to ruin you.”
“Good,” I said. “That’s what I want too.”
— Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
–Mary Oliver, Dream Work
“Above the mountaintops, all is still. Among the treetops you can feel barely a breath: birds in the forest, stripped of song. Just wait: before long you, too, shall rest.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Talking about mountains: Check out my friend Geraldine Blazejovsky’s vernissage and artwork at Stumpergasse 16, in Vienna if you are around. It is amazing!
If you have a minute to share your favorite line, poem or book, I’d love to hear…