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Quotes from Goodsreads’ 2012 Fiction Challenge

I love quotes. It’s like getting to eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich without having to eat the crust.

These are just a few I collected while on my Goodreads 2012 Choice Awards challenge.




this is how you lose her

“The half life of love is forever.”

– This is How You Lose Her,  Junot Diaz


“In the months that follow you bend to the work, because it feels like hope, like grace – and because you know in your lying cheater’s heart that sometimes a start is all we ever get.”

– This is How You Lose Her,  Junot Diaz


Pilgrimmage“He didn’t object to other people believing in God, but it was like being in a place where everyone knew a set of rules and he didn’t.”

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce


“They had looked at him in his yachting shoes, and listened to what he said, and they had made a decision in their hearts and minds to ignore the evidence and to imagine something bigger and something infinitely more beautiful than the obvious.”

– The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce


“And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside.  The inhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal, and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday.”

– The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce


“The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and a life might appear ordinary simply because the person living it had been doing so for a long time.”

– The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce


“Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human.”

– The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce


Penumbra“There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care.”

– Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan


“All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight.”

– Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan


where we belong

“But now I can see that there is redemption and beauty in an accident emanating from love.”

– Where We Belong, Emily Giffin




the age of miracles“And who knows how fast a second-guess can travel? Who has ever measured the speed of regret?”

– The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker


“No law of physics can account for desire.”

– The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker


“How much sweeter life would be if it all happened in reverse, if, after decades of disappointments, you finally arrived at an age when you had conceded nothing, when everything was possible.”

The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker


grown up

“It was awful, and wrong, and the worst part was, in a deep and primal place down in my belly, a dreadful, girlie piece of me liked it. ”

– A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, Joshilyn Jackson




a walk across the sun

“In the real world, doubt was the only truth.”

– A Walk Across the Sun, Corban Addison




Billy lynn“They are bold and proud and certain in the way of clever children blessed with too much self-esteem, and no amount of lecturing will enlighten them as to the state of pure sin toward which war inclines.”

– Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain


“Not that its rocket science. None of the higher mathematics is involved, for war is the pure and ultimate realm of dumb quantity. Wha can manufacture the most death? It’s not calculus, yo, what we’re dealing with here is plain old idiot arithmetic, remedial metrics of rounds-per-minute, assets degraded, Excel spreadsheets of dead and wounded.”

– Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain


“Somewhere along the way America became a giant mall with a country attached.”

– Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain


“How does anyone ever know anything –  the past is a fog that breathes out ghost after ghost, the present a freeway thunder run at 90 mph, which makes the future the ultimate black hole of futile speculation.”

– Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain


“At the heart ocanadaf schemes like this there’s always something unreasonable, the explanation of which is that human beings are involved.”

Canada, Richard Ford


“Reverse-thinking, the habit that had me believing there was significance when there was only absence, may be a good trait in the abstract. (It made me seem more interesting to my mother than I was.) But reverse-thinking can be a matter of ignoring the obvious – a grave error – which can lead to all manner of treacherousness and more errors and to death…”

– Canada, Richard Ford


“She was an artist. She held opposites in her mind.”

– Canada, Richard Ford


“You have a better chance in life  – of surviving  it – if you tolerate loss well; manage not to be a cynic through it all; to subordinate, as Ruskin implied, to keep proportion, to connect the unequal things into a whole that preserves the good, even if admittedly good is often not simple to find.”

– Canada, Richard Ford


telegraph ave “The past was irretrievable, the league of lonely men a fiction, the pursuit of the past a doomed attempt to run a hustle on mortality.”

Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon


“‘I have never actually experiences anxiety that turned out to be premature,’ Nat said, always happy to keep punching in a clinch. ‘It usually shows up right on time.'”

– Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon


“…he planned to continue his lifelong policy of avoiding stupid at every opportunity.”

– Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon


“She lowered her voice to the peculiarly audible whisper common among the women of her family; peculiar not in its audibleness but in the disingenuous way that, like God handing down his commandments to a bunch of folks He knew perfectly well were going to break all of them repeatedly for all time, it bothered to be a whisper at all.”

– Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon


“For years he had been on and off various medications whose names sounded like the code names of sorceresses or ninja assassins.”

– Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon


“Pity and pity alone could mask the bitter taste of shit.”

– Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon


“there was no one in this world weaker than someone trying to keep something secret, unless it be someone obliged to confess.”

– Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon


“Professing in his heart like some despised creed the central truth of life: the only decision a man will never regret is the one he never made.”

– Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon


“A beautiful phrase to the ponderer, the day after tomorrow. The address of utopia itself.”

– Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon


Running“Everything in the universe has a mathematical expression: the balance of a chemical reaction, the Fibonacci sequence of a leaf, an encounter between two human beings.”

Running the Rift, Naomi Benaron


“Could he calculate the instantaneous velocity of rage?”

 Running the Rift, Naomi Benaron


Orphan masters son

“Use your imagination only on the future, never on the present or the past.”

The Orphan Master’s Son,  Adam Johnson




home front“If Dante had lived in modern times, Michael had no doubt that going to the mall with your daughters would have qualified as one of the circles of hell.”

Home Front, Kristin Hannah


“Summer comes, as it always does, in a wash of light and expectation.”

 Home Front, Kristin Hannah


beautiful ruins

“Life, he thought, is a blatant act of the imagination.”

Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter


“Years passed and I found myself still a husk, still in that moment, still in the day the war ended, the day I realized, as all survivors must, that being alive isn’t the same as living.”

– Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter


“Something about the memory caused him to tear up, to think again about the unknowable nature of the people we love.”

– Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter


“All we have is the story we tell. Everything we do, every decision we make, our strength, weakness, motivation, history, and character – what we believe – none of it is real; it’s all part of the story we tell. But here’s the thing: it’s our goddamned story … No one gets to tell you what your life means!”

– Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter


Flight behavior

“A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture.”

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver


“This had not been a thinking-ahead kind of day.”

– Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver


“Like herself, it just seemed to have come loose from its station in life.”

– Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver


“But you could run out of gas on boyish, that was the thing. A message that should be engraved in every woman’s wedding band.”

– Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver


“Everything, she wanted to scream at him, was a question of safety. All human endeavor bent itself to the same lost cause.”

– Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver



“Knowing comings from learning, finding from seeking…”

In the Shadow of the Banyan, Vaddey Ratner


“We are capable of extraordinary beauty if we dare to dream.”

– In the Shadow of the Banyan, Vaddey Ratner



casual vacancy

“He never seemed to grasp the immense mutability of human nature, nor to appreciate that behind every nondescript face lay a wild and unique hinterland like his own.”

The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling


“‘Marriages are always a mystery to outsiders,’ she said carefully. ‘Nobody can ever really know except the two people involved.'”

– The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling



tell the wolves

“I thought of trying to catch her eye, so she’d know I understood what she’d done, but I decided not to. Everyone needs to think they have secrets.”

– Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt




dog stars

“See? I said. At least it’s good half the time.  Better than most of us can expect.”

The Dog Stars, Peter Heller


“I am always too close to the high ground.  that’s the other thing about the end of everything: I stopped worrying about my engine failing.”

– The Dog Stars, Peter Heller



“Or worse, she might just say ‘Fine,’ which really means, ‘It is not fine and you know it and if you go, I am going to be mad at you for at least three days!'”

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Matthew Dicks





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