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Category: Books

The Underground Railroad

Was she supposed to pray now? She sat at the table in the thin lamplight. It was too dark on the platform to make out where the tunnel began. How long would it take them to root out Caesar? How fast could he run? She was aware of the bargains people made in desperate situations. To reduce the fever in a sick baby, to halt the brutalities of an overseer, to deliver one from a host of slave hells. From what she saw, the bargains never bore fruit. Sometimes the fever subsided, but the plantation was always still there. Cora did not pray.

—Colson Whitehead

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Beauty leaves its imprints on the mind. Throughout history, there have been many moments that can never be recovered, but you and I know that they existed.

—Madeleine Thien

The Mothers

She had witnessed this scene dozens of times before, her husband yelling at Luke. For joyriding with his friends, theater-hopping, sneaking beer onto the beach in old Coke bottles, smoking reefer in Buddy Todd Park, goading Marines into fights. He wasn’t a bad kid but he was reckless. Black boys couldn’t afford to be reckless, she had tried to tell him. Reckless white boys became politicians and bankers, reckless black boys became dead.

—Brit Bennett

The Nix

“Your mom is in trouble,” Alice said. “The judge will never yield. He’s ruthless and dangerous. You have to take her away. Do you hear me?”

“I don’t understand. What’s his grudge against her?” She sighed and looked at the ground.

“He’s like the most dangerous species of American there is: heterosexual white male who didn’t get what he wanted.”

—Nathan Hill

A Manual for Cleaning Women

The DoorAnybody says he knows just how someone else feels is a fool.

—Lucia Berlin

His Bloody Project

I sat down on the bench and watched Flora make her way along the village. She had a way of walking as if her body was singing a song.

—Graeme Macrae Burnet

The Girls

Hatred was easy. The permutations constant over the years: a stranger at a fair who palmed my crotch through my shorts. A man on the sidewalk who lunged at me, then laughed when I flinched. The night an older man took me to a fancy restaurant when I wasn’t even old enough to like oysters. Not yet twenty. The owner joined our table, and so did a famous filmmaker. The men fell into a heated discussion with no entry point for me: I fidgeted with my heavy cloth napkin, drank water. Staring at the wall. “Eat your vegetables,” the filmmaker suddenly snapped at me. “You’re a growing girl.” The filmmaker wanted me to know what I already knew: I had no power. He saw my need and used it against me.

—Emma Cline

The Shadow of the Wind

Only three or four things are worth living for; the rest is manure.

—Carlos Ruiz Zafón

City of Mirrors

They’d been dead for many hours; his efforts were pointless. Yet one had to try. A lot of life, Michael had learned, came down to trying to fix things that weren’t fixable.

—Justin Cronin

Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates

Well, as I see it, it’s exactly one half-dozen significant things: Humor, Imagination, Eroticism—as opposed to the mindless, instinctive mating of glowworms or raccoons—Spirituality, Rebelliousness, and Aesthetics, an appreciation of beauty for its own sake.

—Tom Robbins

The Invention of Wings

“How can you ask us to go back to our parlors?” I said, rising to my feet. “To turn our backs on ourselves and on our own sex? We don’t wish the movement to split, of course we don’t—it saddens me to think of it—but we can do little for the slave as long as we’re under the feet of men. Do what you have to do, censure us, withdraw your support, we’ll press on anyway. Now, sirs, kindly take your feet off our necks.”

—Sue Monk Kidd

The Door

“Have you ever killed an animal?” I said I had never killed anything.

“You will. You’ll put Viola down. You’ll have him injected, when the time comes. Try to understand. When the sands run out for someone, don’t stop them going. You can’t give them anything to replace life. Do you think I didn’t love Polett? That it meant nothing to me when she’d had enough and wanted out? It’s just that, as well as love, you also have to know how to kill. It won’t do you any harm to remember that. Ask your God — since you’re on such good terms with him — what Polett told him when they finally met.”

—Magda Szabo

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

A few days go by. Maybe a few weeks. But after that, one by one, other different children start tagging along with Alex and Elsa in the playground and corridors. Until there are so many of them that no one dares to chase them anymore. Until they’re an army in themselves. Because if a sufficient number of people are different, no one has to be normal.

—Fredrik Backman

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

…the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying.

—J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers‘ Stone

…to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.

—J.K Rowling

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

I have no idea what I hope to accomplish. I only know that I must try to see her. That’s what love is about, Roger. It’s when a woman drives all lucid thought from your head; when you are unable to contrive romantic stratagems, and the usual manipulations fail you; when all your carefully laid plans have no meaning and all you can do is stand mute in her presence. You hope she takes pity on you and drops a few words of kindness into the vacuum of your mind.

—Helen Simonson


I have done it. Full fathom five it lies. Hiding out here in the 3rd class library for the time being. Strange how a ship was our doing and now our undoing. Let him rage. Let him rage across the oceans. But he will rage alone. I am getting off tomorrow at Aden. Doubling back to Sydney. He is wine and bread and deep in my stomach.

—Lily King

Lovecraft Country

…stories are like people, Atticus. Loving them doesn’t make them perfect. You try to cherish their virtues and overlook their flaws. The flaws are still there, though.

—Matt Ruff

What is the What

The government burned the villages to punish them for supporting the rebels. It’s very easy to kill a town, yes? Harder to kill an army.

—Dave Eggers

The Tsar of Love and Techno

His gaze climbed her legs. When he reached her eyes, she’d already seen him. “I’m Kolya,” he managed to say. “Galina,” she replied. Her lips flattened and curved at the ends like something wet that hadn’t dried right. It was a smile. His chest unzipped from the inside.

—Anthony Marra