“We never tell the whole story whole, because a life isn’t a story; it’s a whole Milky Way of events and we are forever picking out constellations from it to fit who and where we are.” Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby
“At the end of all those hot, tiring afternoons, I wonder what the point has been. Perhaps it is this: that as long as there are places to visit and things to find out, my mother and I still exist in the present; are engaged, still, in conversation. And then I think of the places I can’t go.” Emma Brockes, She Left Me the Gun
“There are some things in the heart that do not die and the loves of early childhood are the strongest loves of all.” Irfan Orga, Portrait of a Turkish Family
Water that’s poured inside will sink the boat
While water underneath keeps it afloat
Driving wealth from his heart to keep it pure
King Solomon preferred the title “Poor”
That sealed jar in the stormy sea out there
Floats on the waves because it’s full of air
When you’ve the air of dervishood inside
You’ll float above the world and there abide… Rumi
“You know about the Mother Goddess – the first female god, a fat woman with a lion on one side and a child between her legs. She was the first god of humankind.
Do you know why the ancient people of Anatolia chose her as their god? Because men were not aware of their roles as impregnators. They thought that it was the wind, the rain, the rivers, in short, nature, that impregnated women. And this was not at all a strange idea at the time. People viewed themselves as part of nature. They thought birth was magic, a miracle.” - Ahmet Ümit – Patasana
“Painting is the silence of thought and the music of sight.” - Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red
“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.” - Anaïs Nin
“Remember, remember always, that all of us,
and you and I especially,
are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.”- Margaret Mitchell
“I Love A Sunburnt Country”
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of drought and flooding rains,
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me.
Dorothea MacKellar extract from her poem I Love a Sunburnt Country
“It’s no good to complain about your flock,” she advised.
“A flock is nothing but the put-together of all your past choices.” - Barbara Kingsolver – Flight Behaviour
“So we beat on,
boats against the current,
borne back ceaselessly into the past.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us.
If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for?
So that it will make us happy, as you write?
Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to.
But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide.
A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.
That is my belief.”
Cat Owner’s Prayer
Because I’m only human,
It’s sometimes hard to be
The wise, all-knowing creature
That my cat expects of me.
And so I pray for special help
To somehow understand
The subtle implications
Of each proud meowed command.
Oh, let me not forget that chairs
Were put on earth to shred;
And what I like to call a lap
Is actually a bed.
I know it’s really lots to ask
But please, oh please, take pity;
And though I’m only human,
Make me worthy of my kitty!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I got a little tired of this idea of an authorial voice of complete knowledge or perfect wisdom….
I wanted to express that feeling of self-alienation or the sense of not really having a self at all.” - Zadie Smith, Interview Magazine
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” - Charles William Eliot
She ordered a martini and encouraged me to, but said she couldn’t drink it with her medication. She just liked seeing it in front of her, like the old days, all set to do its little magic. Richard Ford extract from Canada
Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination. - Bertrand Russell
Give me my scallop shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope’s true gauge,
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage. Sir Walter Raleigh – from his poem The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi
“How objects are handed on is all about story-telling. I am giving you this because I love you. Or because it was given to me. Because I bought it somewhere special. Because you will care for it. Because it will complicate your life. Because it will make someone else envious. There is no easy story in legacy. What is remembered and what is forgotten?” Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes, A Hidden Inheritance
“There are some men whose only mission among others is to act as intermediaries; one crosses them like bridges and keeps going.” Gustave Flaubert, Sentimental Education
Dear Jansson san
Thank you for your very wise letter.
I understand the forest’s big in Finland and the sea too but your house is very small.
It’s a beautiful thought, to meet a writer only in her books.
I’m learning all the time.
I wish you good health and a long life.
Your Tamiko Atsumi
Tove Jansson an extract from Correspondence, A Winter Book
“Though my body comes down mechanically, having been trained that way by punctual parents, my soul never thinks of beginning to wake up for other people till lunch-time, and never does so completely till it has been taken out of doors and aired in the sunshine.
Who can begin conventional amiability the first thing in the morning? It is the hour of savage instincts and natural tendencies; it is the triumph of the Disagreeable and the Cross.
I am convinced that the Muses and the Graces never thought of having breakfast anywhere but in bed.” Elizabeth von Arnim, Elizabeth and her German Garden
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” – Rumi
“We deceive ourselves when we fancy that only weakness needs support. Strength needs it far more.” - Madame Swetchine
“A bag has no intentions or desires of its own, it embraces every object that we ask it to hold. You trust the bag, and it, in return, trusts you. To me, a bag is patience; a bag is profound discretion” - Yoko Ogawa, from Sewing for the Heart, Revenge
“If we work always in words, sometimes we need to recuperate in a place where language doesn’t join up, where we’re thrown back on a few elementary nouns. Sea. Bird. Sky.” - Kathleen Jamie, Findings
“The existence of forgetting has never been proved: we only know that some things do not come to our mind when we want them to.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
“The more one is able to leave one’s cultural home, the more easily is one able to judge it, and the whole world as well, with the spiritual detachment and generosity necessary for true vision.” - Edward Said, Orientalism
“It is greed that blurs our conscience just as a black cloud covers the sun or the moon. Feelings between father and son, teacher and student, brother and brother can all be maligned and destroyed by greed.” - Dương Thu Hương
‘“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” - Madeleine L’Engle
‘Remember this, Komar,’ I told him, ‘The stupid neither forgive or forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget. And, if the years have taught me anything, it is a wisdom of sorts.’ - Martin Booth, The Industry of Souls
“Novel-writing can be a cold-blooded business. One uses whatever happens to be lying around in memory and employs it to suit one’s ends. Then again, during the months whilst one is writing about the past, a story is coloured by what presently is happening to its writer. So, imperceptibly, the tone of voice changes, original intentions slip away. And I found myself looking through another window at a darker landscape inhabited by neither the present nor the past.” - J.L.Carr
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” - Charles William Eliot
“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” - Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist
“My candle burns at both ends,
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends
It gives a lovely light!” - Edna St.Vincent Millay
“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.” J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
“Writing is a struggle against silence.” Carlos Fuentes
“That’s what the world is, after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.” Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Luck is everything… My good luck in life was to be a really frightened person. I’m fortunate to be a coward, to have a low threshold of fear, because a hero couldn’t make a good suspense film.” – Alfred Hitchcock
“It’s always been difficult for me to speak and express my innermost thoughts. I prefer to write. When I sit down and write, words grow very docile, they come and feed out of my hand like little birds, and I can do almost what I want with them; whereas when I try to marshal them in open air, they fly away from me.”
― Philippe Claudel, Brodeck: A novel
“Never meet a person’s anger directly. Deflect, distract him, even agree with him. Unbalance his mind, and you can lead him anywhere you want.”
Tan Twang Eng, The Gift of Rain
“Truth can break the gates down, truth can howl in the street; unless truth is pleasing, personable and easy to like, she is condemned to stay whimpering at the back door.”
― Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
“Lulled in the countless chambers of the brain, our thoughts are linked by many a hidden chain; awake but one, and in, what myriads rise!” – Alexander Pope
“Be sure to enjoy language, experiment with ways of talking, be exuberant when you don’t feel like it – language can make your world a better place to live.” – Deborah Levy
“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami
To write, Marguerite Duras remarked, is also not to speak. It is to keep silent. It is to howl noiselessly.
“no man is safe who happens to fall in company with a lady of somewhat mature age, with an excitable imagination and a cacoethes scribendi“― Observer newspaper 1856
“We clung to it – the possibility that he existed among us, even as a ghost, even as an echo or shadow – because to let go was to relinquish our hope, to admit and submit to utter, irreversible despair.”― Vaddey Ratner, In the Shadow of the Banyan
“If you want to know a country, read its writers.” ― Aminatta Forna
“In the red tent, the truth is known. In the red tent, where days pass like a gentle stream, as the gift of Innana courses through us, cleansing the body of last month’s death, preparing the body to receive the new month’s life, women give thanks — for repose and restoration, for the knowledge that life comes from between our legs, and that life costs blood.” - Anita Diamant, The Red Tent
“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” - Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1846)
“And he knows then that his hands are made from the same stuff as those that worked here long ago. That there is memory deep in these hands, in the bones and the flesh.” - Vanessa Gebbie, The Coward’s Tale
“A bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.” - Ecclesiastes 10:20
“The person you are (in total, at that moment in time) is what creates the story you’re writing. It’s infused in every piece of punctuation, in the plot, in the most minor character who crosses the page. It’s all your voice.” — Victor Lavalle
“It is what our imagination feasts off, the bone, not the meat, the bits that are left behind. The less you are given the more you can make up; once you make a story up, it is hard not to believe it yourself.” — Jackie Kay, Red Dust Road
“Our whole spiritual transformation brings us to the point where we realise that in our own being, we are enough.” — Ram Dass
“And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.” — Thomas Hardy, excerpt from The Convergence Of The Twain
“The Man Booker Prize is a very strange thing. It’s a huge thing in an author’s career. When you go back to your desk and you’re confronted with the blank paper, the blank screen, you’re faced with the realisation that you are only as good as your next sentence. But, of course, I do have this Man Booker stamp of quality which, with readers… will do me nothing but good.” — Hilary Mantel, Man Booker Prize-winner 2009
“She was fine when she left here.” - Belfast Residents on the Titanic
“Prodigal Summer, the season of extravagant procreation. It could wear out everything in its path with its passionate excesses, but nothing alive with wings or a heart or a seed curled into itself in the ground could resist welcoming it back when it came.” – Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer
“We’ll always have Paris.” – Howard Koch
“We encounter books at different times in life, often appreciating them, apprehending them, in different ways. But their language is constant. The best sentences orient us, like stars in the sky, like landmarks on a trail.” ― Jhumpa Lahiri, My Life’s Sentences
“You fix what you can fix and you let the rest go. If there ain’t nothin to be done about it it aint even a problem. It’s just a aggravation.”― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old MenLove. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for. - Ray Bradbury
“Thus great Achilles, who had shown his zeal In healing wounds, died of a wounded heel.” - O.W.Holmes
“A country is considered the more civilised the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak and a powerful one too powerful.” — Primo Levi
“Wine makes a symphony of a good meal.” – Fernande Garvin, in ‘The Art of French Cooking’
“Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” – David Lloyd George
“A perfect woman, nobly plann’d, to warn, to comfort, and command; And yet a spirit still, and bright with something of an angel light.” – William Wordsworth, 19th Century Poet
“For just when ideas fail, a word comes in to save the situation.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is Nature’s way.” – Aristotle
“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
- A.A. Milne, ‘When We Were Very Young’
“I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay
“A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.” – Chinese Proverb
“There is no essential truth about being a female writer. The best writing comes from the boundaries, the ungendered spaces between male and female…..” - Yvonne Vera in “Writing Near the Bone”
“A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you’re at home.” – Author Unknown
“Were it up to me to begin again, I would make the same choice. Roses on the fence. I would travel the same roads that might or might not lead to Cordoba. I would lay my shadow down on two rocks, so that birds could nest on one of the boughs. I would break open my shadow for the scent of almond to float in a cloud of dust and grow tired on the slopes.”
- Mahmoud Darwish extract from the poem ‘Were It Up to Me to Begin Again’
“In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.” – Alice Walker
“I’m ambitious. I worry, I have to believe that what I’m writing is exceptional, that it will be admired, and I get excited believing this but collapse when I lose faith.”
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I learn. Involve me and I remember.”
- Benjamin Franklin
‘What is understood by essence, in the pure sense as used by mediaeval alchemists, for example, is the actual energy, the ‘soul’ of the plant.’
‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.’
Pero yo ya no soy yo Ni mi casa es ya mi casa.
But now I am no longer I nor is my house any longer my house.
― Federico Garcia Lorca
“And there stand those stupid languages, helpless as two bridges that go over the same river side by side but are separated from each other by an abyss. It is a mere bagatelle, an accident, and yet it separates…”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, in a letter to his wife, September 2, 1902, from Paris
“Dear, sweet Mabel,” she said. “We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That’s where the adventure is. Not knowing where you’ll end up or how you’ll fare. It’s all a mystery, and when we say any different we’re just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?”
― Eowyn Ivey, extract from ‘The Snow Child’ in a letter to Mabel from her sister.
“People never explain to you exactly what they think and feel and how their thoughts and feelings work, do they? They don’t have time. Or the right words. But that’s what books do. It’s as though your daily life is a film in the cinema. It can be fun, looking at those pictures. But if you want to know what lies behind the flat screen you have to read a book. That explains it all.”
― Sebastian Faulks, extract from ‘A Week in December’
‘We don’t own Mother Earth, the Earth owns us’ – Mandawuy Yunupingu, lead singer of Yothu Yindi
“All this for the factory, for their possessions, for something that was, to their eyes more durable and faithful than love, women or their own children.”
- Irène Némirovsky extract from ‘All Our Worldly Goods’“Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism, are all very good words for the lips.” – Charles Dickens
“When you’re twenty, love is like a fever, it makes you almost delirious. When it’s over you can hardly remember how it happened…Fire in the blood, how quickly it burns itself out.” - Irène Némirovsky
“The early mist had vanished and the fields lay like a silver shield under the sun. It was one of the days when the glitter of winter shines through a pale haze of spring.”
- Edith Wharton extract from ‘Ethan Frome’
“Treat the earth well, It was not given to you by your parents, It was loaned to you by your children.”
- Indian Proverb
“Can one think that because we are engineers, beauty does not preoccupy us or that we do not try to build beautiful, as well as solid and long lasting structures? Aren’t the genuine functions of strength always in keeping with unwritten conditions of harmony? Besides, there is an attraction, a special charm in the colossal to which ordinary theories of art do not apply.” – Gustave Eiffel
“Every culture that has lost myth has lost, by the same token, its natural healthy creativity. Only a horizon ringed about with myths can unify a culture.” – Nietzsche, in The Birth of Tragedy
“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” – Confucius
“If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:”
- Rudyard Kipling, from the poem ‘If’
“Mathematics is the sister, as well as the servant, of the arts and is touched by the same madness and genius.” – Marston Morse“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust
“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” - Italo Calvino
“Books have led some to learning and others to madness.” - Petrarch
“All stories interest me, and some haunt me until I end up writing them. Certain themes keep coming up: justice, loyalty, violence, death, political and social issues, freedom.” - Isabel Allende“If you can discover what you are like, if you can discover what you truly believe about most of the major matters of life, you will be able to write a story which is honest and original and unique” –Dorothea Brande
“Eternal truths are ultimately invisible, and you won’t find them in material things or natural phenomena, or even in human emotions.” - Yoko Ogawa
“Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway
“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”
- Honoré de Balzac
“Everything can change but not the language that we carry inside us.” – Italo Calvino
“Beloved, you are my sister, you are my daughter, you are my face; you are me.” – Toni Morrison, excerpt from the novel ‘Beloved’
“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” - Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” - Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC), ‘The Lion and the Mouse’
“Imagination rules the world.” - Napoleon Bonaparte
” A nice girl should never go anywhere without a loaded gun and a big knife.” - Sarah Prine