So when my friend, who is halfway through The Book Thief, asked, “Now, who is Rudy again?” I about died.
Now, I deeply love this friend; she is brilliant and fun and cares so much about people and justice and mercy. But come on. Who is RUDY? WHO IS RUDY STEINER??! Why are you reading this book if you can’t remember one of the MAIN CHARACTERS?!!! Where is the RESPECT?
Okay, done ranting. I think.
I am not this way with all books– but there are certain, choice stories where I am quite literally offended if a friend doesn’t like them, almost as if I were the author. When my friend Jessica read Narnia for the first time, I was upfront with her: “Please tell me you liked them. I will actually be offended if you didn’t.” She did. Phew.
When my roommate told me that The Fault in Our Stars was “good, but not great,” I didn’t want to throw her off a cliff or anything. When my sister couldn’t get into The Sky is Everywhere, I didn’t want to disown her. I don’t have to worry about what I’d do to someone who didn’t like Stargirl because I have never met such a fool.
But The Chronicles of Narnia, The Book Thief, Peace Like a River … do not disrespect these stories.
You knew I had to include Peace Like a River quotes this week, right? How could I possibly share a week of lovely lines and not quote Leif Enger, whose brilliant fiction often reads like poetry? He delights me on paper and is just as wonderful in person!
“I remember it as October days are always remembered, cloudless, maple-flavored, golden and so clean it quivers.”
“When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of earth.”
“Be careful whom you choose to hate. The small and the vulnerable own a protection great enough, if you could but see it, to melt you into jelly. Beware those who reside beneath the shadow of the Wings.”
How about this from So Brave, Young, and Handsome:
“…for his life seemed a curving line, capricious, moment by moment inviting grace.”
What week of lovely lines would truly be complete without at least one poem? Here, I present to you one of e.e. cummings’ best, with a stunning final line. I remember re-reading this my second year of college, alone in my dorm, and the tears started just running down my face. It was as if I were coming alive again, remembering why I loved words.
I sat on my roommate’s couch, reading and re-reading this poem. It was like a gift.
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond any experience,your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skillfully,mysteriously)her first rose
or if your wish be to close me,i and my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility:whose texture compels me with the colour of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
Today’s lovely line comes from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The first time I read this line, I thought I had never heard something prettier. It still gets me every time.
“She was the book thief without the words. Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.”
The image is pure genius. If you can write a better line than that, I want to shake your hand.
Do you ever encounter a line or a passage in a book that makes you shiver with delight, one that bends your mind, or (if you’re a writer) one that makes you so envious you could scream? In all my years of reading, I have encountered some lines that just take my breath away every time I read them. This week, I’m going to share them with you.
Today’s lines come from That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis.
“As the desert first teaches men to love water, or as absence first reveals affection, there rose up against this background of the sour and the crooked some kind of vision of the sweet and the straight. Something else – something he vaguely called the “Normal” – apparently existed…. It was all mixed up with Jane and fried eggs and soap and sunlight and the rooks cawing at Cure Hardy and the thought that, somewhere outside, daylight was going on at that moment. He was not thinking in moral terms at all; or else (what is much the same thing) he was having his first deeply moral experience. He was choosing a side: the Normal.”
Mmm … all those k-sounds! Rooks cawing at Cure Hardy. LOVE.
How about this:
“great syllables of words that sounded like castles came out of his mouth”