I love words. How they sound as they roll off your tongue or how they can be strung together in a sentence or a phrase potent enough to make your heart beat faster and leave you with counterfeit memories of adventures you’ve never had.
When I was packing my bags, I found an old notebook filled with my favorite lines from books, poems and even films. I was moved. I think that I had jotted them down in the hope that words from Hemingway, Pynchon or Iyer, could somehow seep into my bloodstream and that one day, I too, could discover such perfect literary formulas.
So without further adieu, here is a list of of my favorite quotes. A few are from the books listed in my article “50 Greatest Travel Books of All Time” ,as well as many new additions.
Feel free to add some of your own.
1) “Never love a wild thing. You can’t give your heart to a wild thing. The more you do, the stronger they get. Until they’re strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That’s how you’ll end up. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.
It is better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place, so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.”
– Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
2) “Lolita, light of life, fire of my loins.”
– Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
3) “It was an iron London day…”
– Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
4) “To be born again, first you have to die…”
– Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
5)”The pattern is predetermined. It is only the artist or perhaps the criminal, who can choose his own life.”
– The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham
6) “Now it lies under Mr. Schaeffer’s cot, where its glass diamonds are turning yellow; in the night his hand sometimes searches out, and his fingers drift across the strings: then the world.”
– Diamond Guitar by Truman Capote
7) “And when that happened, I know it. A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some sacred vein had already received, severing me from an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite on a broken string. That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching the sky. As if I expected to see rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying towards heaven.”
-A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
8) “In London, on this day of June…”
– Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
9) “I shut my eyes and she was again the same as she used to be: she was the hiss of the steam, the clink of the cup; she was the certain hour of the night and promise of rest.”
– The Quiet American by Graham Greene
10) “For the next five or six hours, I’d be the most conspicuous thing on this goddamn evil road –the only fireapple-red shark convertible between Butte and Tijuana … blazing along this desert highway with a half-naked hillbilly mental case at the wheel.“
– Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
11) “A spectre is haunting Europe–the spectre of communism.”
– The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
12) “The spirit is often most free when the body is satiated with pleasure; indeed sometimes the stars shine more brightly seen from the gutter than from the hilltop.”
– The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham
13) “With distorted countenance he stared into the water. He saw his face reflected, and spat at it; he took his arm away from the tree trunk and turned a little, so that he could fall headlong and finally go under. He bent, with closed eyes–towards death.”
– Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
14) “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”
– Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
15) “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
– 1984 by George Orwell
16) “You’re not a moron. You’re only a case of arrested development.”
– The Sun also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
17) “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy–they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. . . .”
– The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald