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Your favourite lines/excerpts from books you’ve enjoyed reading.


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I noticed a thread in the “Film, Tv & Radio” folder called something along the lines of “the greatest lines in cinema history is” and thought it might be nice to do a book equivalent where we can post up some of the lines or excerpts from books that has made a lasting impression on you. I for one often find myself getting hooked on sentences that I find particularly beautiful or true or just well crafted. 

Seeing as I was working with The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald in class recently, let me start off the thread with one of the most memorable endings to a book that I know of: 


“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”


I’ll be back with more quotes later but just wanted to get this started, so join in & quote some of yours:) 

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  • 3 months later...

John Steinbeck from The Grapes of Wrath. For the last two sentences really.


"What if they won’t scare?  What if they stand up and take it and shoot back?  These men were armed when they were children.  A gun is an extension of themselves.  What if they won’t scare?  What if some time an army of them marches on the land as the Lombards did in Italy, as the Germans did on Gaul and Turks did on Byzantium?  They were land-hungry, ill-armed hordes took and the legions could not stop them.  Slaughter and terror did not stop them.  How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children?  You can’t scare him--he has known a fear beyond every other."

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I'd normally jump straight in with a Pratchett or Banks quote but there are loads and loads from Joe Abercrombie that I've always liked, like this:


“You were a hero round these parts. That's what they call you when you kill so many people the word murderer falls short.” 
― Joe Abercrombie, Best Served Cold


Okay just one from Pratchett:


“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”


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A quick one from David Gemmel's fantasy "Legend" (I'm a huge Gemmel fan). 


You've got Druss - the aging axe-wielding hero of the land, in the massive fort where the final battle will be fought to decide the fate of the nation. It's a hopeless cause - the enemy are too vast and numerous - but he's gone there anyway, because - where else would he be? A long way past his prime he's there to fight, knowing he's going to die... but he's also there to live. On the eve of battle one of his comrades mentions the cold:


"A cold night to be out walking, sir" he said, cursing himself for the respectful tone.

"I have seen worse. And I like the cold. It's like pain - it tells you you're alive."


I love the cold weather, and part of that is the feeling of being alive when it's a bit raw out. Whenever anyone moans about it being a bit nippy, I tend to give them a bit of Druss. Not the most profound or beautiful line you'll find I'll warrant, but it's stuck with me since the first time I read it.

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Oh - here we go. I've found it. The reason I love Moby Dick. This is sublime. The perfect set-up, the perfect knock-down, and yet so understated. It's so beautifully written, and yet so very awful. It's as bleak as hell, and that's why I love it.


BOOK III. (DUODECIMO), CHAPTER 1. (HUZZA PORPOISE).—This is the common porpoise found almost all over the globe. The name is of my own bestowal; for there are more than one sort of porpoises, and something must be done to distinguish them. I call him thus, because he always swims in hilarious shoals, which upon the broad sea keep tossing themselves to heaven like caps in a Fourth-of-July crowd. Their appearance is generally hailed with delight by the mariner. Full of fine spirits, they invariably come from the breezy billows to windward. They are the lads that always live before the wind. They are accounted a lucky omen. If you yourself can withstand three cheers at beholding these vivacious fish, then heaven help ye; the spirit of godly gamesomeness is not in ye. A well-fed, plump Huzza Porpoise will yield you one good gallon of good oil.



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Two from Three Men In a Boat:


"It always does seem to me that I am doing more work than I should do. It is not that I object to the work, mind you; I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart."  (The whole passage is great but the opening is the best bit.)


and the original mother-in-law joke


"Everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses."

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I often jot down lines that jump out at me while reading, although I've not done so for some time. Some of my favourites:


Men always represent eternity as an incomprehensible idea, as a something immense – immense! But why should this necessarily be the case? Imagine, on the contrary, a small room – a bathroom, if you will – blackened by smoke and with spiders in every corner. Supposing that to be eternity!

Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky


I think spring is inside me. I feel spring awakening, I feel it in my entire body and soul. I have to force myself to act normally. I’m in a state of utter confusion, don’t know what to read, what to write, what to do. I only know that I’m longing for something…

The Diary of Anne Frank


Wise son of a bitch, you’re one of those sons of bitches with a vocabulary and you like to lay it around!

Post Office, Charles Bukowski


This one's spoilered as it's the very end of the book:



But the hands of one of the men closed round his throat, just as the other drove the knife deep into his heart and turned it twice. As his eyes grew dim, K. could still see the two men right in front of his face, their cheeks touching as they watched the decisive moments.

‘Like a dog!” he said.

It was as if the shame of it should outlive him.


The Trial, Franz Kafka

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"But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.'"


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"There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever."

1984 - George Orwell


Easily the most terrifying thing I've ever read - properly plays on my mind and still gives me goosebumps to this day. So perhaps 'enjoyed' is a bit of a stretch, but never mind.


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"There’s something elementally horrific about waking before dawn."


Infinite Jest


There's a ton of stuff in Infinite Jest that I thought was extraordinary, but this is so on-point.


"In 1942, local police came to 1003 S. Orange Grove to investigate an alleged backyard ceremony wherein a pregnant woman had reportedly jumped nude through a fire nine times. The police made it clear that they thought the claim absurd and that they were only investigating because it was their duty. Parsons easily assured them of his community standing: he was an important rocket scientist with a professional reputation to uphold. Ironically, the ceremony probably took place as described."


Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons



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Two openers I love. Both involving explosions, weirdly.


"It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach's Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach." 

Iain Bans, The Crow Road.


"The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason." Neal Stephenson,


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A perfect encapsulation of consumerism, from Frank Herbert's Heretics of Dune of all places:


"It occurred to Lucilla that the people of these streets pursued a fleeting dream, that the fulfilment they sought was not the thing itself but a myth they had been conditioned to seek the way racing animals were trained to chase after the whirling bait on the endless oval of the racetrack."

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