2005 Book List


Books / Thursday, December 1st, 2005

Top 10:

1. The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand

“If I found a job, a project, an idea or a person I wanted- I’d have to depend on the whole world. Everything has strings tied to everything else. We’re all in a net, the net is waiting, and we’re pushed into it by one single desire. You want a thing and it’s precious to you. Do you know who is standing ready to tear it out of your hands? You can’t know it may be so involved and so far away, but someone is ready, and you’re afraid of them all. And you cringe and you crawl and you beg and you accept them- just so they’ll let you keep it. And look whom you come to accept.”

“There’s some good in the worse of us. There’s always a redeeming feature.”

“What do you want? Perfection?”
“—or nothing. So, you see I take the nothing.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“I take the only desire one can really permit oneself. Freedom.”
“You call that freedom?”
“To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.”
“What if you found something that you wanted?”

“No, I wouldn’t go into law if I were you. You’re much too tense and passionate about tit. A hysterical devotion to one’s career deed not make happiness or success. It is wiser to select a profession about which you can be calm, sane and matter-of-fact.”

“All growth demands destruction. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. You must be willing to suffer, to be cruel, to be dishonest, to be unclean-anything my dear, anything to kill the most stubborn of roots, the ego. And only when it is dead, when you care no longer, when you have lost your identity and forgotten the name of your soul-only then will know that kind of happiness I spoke about, and the gates of spiritual grandeur will fall open before you.”

He spent more time with Dominique. Dominique watched him complacency, as if he presents no further problem to her. She seemed to find him suitable as an inconsequential companion for an occasional inconsequential evening. He thought that she liked him. He knew that this was not an encouraging sign…He forgot all the reasons that prompted him to want her. He felt no need to be prompted. He wanted her. He needed no reasons now but the excitement of her presence. Yet the felt helpless before her…”

“He went away, relieved and desolate, cursing himself for the fill, persistent feeling that told him he had missed a chance which would never return; that something was closing in on them both and they had surrendered. He cursed, because he could not say what it was that they should have fought.”

“My dear, you will never be more than a dilettante of the intellect, unless you submerge yourself in a cause greater than yourself.”

“We cannot know what will be right or wrong in a selfless society, nor what we will feel, nor in what manner. We must destroy the ego first. That is why the mind is so unreliable. We must not think. We must believe…even if your mind objects. Don’t think. Believe. Trust your heart, not your brain. Don’t think.. Feel. Believe.”

“Love is reverence, and worship and glory and the upward glance. Not a bandage for dirty sores…Those who speak of love most promiscuously are the ones who never felt it. They make some feeble stew out of sympathy, compassion, contempt and general indifference, and they call it love. Once you’ve felt what it means to love as you and I know it- the total passion for the total height, you’re incapable of anything less.”

“It takes two to make every great career; the man who is great, and the man- almost rarer- who is great enough to see greatness and say so.”

2. Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand

“The only justification of private property…is public service.”

“The sounds were like a voice saying: There is no necessity for pain- why, then, is the worst pain reserved for those who will not accept its necessity?- we who hold the love and the secret of joy, to what punishment have we been sentenced for it, and by whom?…The sounds of torture became defiance, the statement of agony became a hymn to a distant vision for whose sake anything was worth enduring, even this. It was the song of rebellion-and of a desperate quest.”

“That kind of smile did not belong in the pages of a newspaper. It was the smile of a man who is able to see, to know and to create the glory of existence. It was the mocking, challenging smile of a brilliant intelligence.”

“I intend to make my own chance.”

“The man who entered was a stranger. He was young, tall and something about him suggested violence, thought she could not say what it was, because the first trail one grasped about him was a quality of self-control that seemed almost arrogant. he had dark eyes, disheveled hair, and his clothes were expensive, but worn as if he did not care or notice what he wore.”

“It was as if the centuries had sifted the familie’s qualities through a fine mesh, had discarded the irrelevant, the inconsequential, the weak and had let nothing through except pure talent; as if chance, for one, had achieved ann entity devoid of the accidential.”

“That boy is vulnerable. He has too great a capacity for koy. What will he do with it in a world where there’s so little occasion for it?”

“Standing on the hillside, in the first moment of seeing him again, she grasped suddenly the nature of that world which they, together, held against all others. It was only an instant’s pause, she felt her cotton skirt beating in the wind against her knees, felt the sun on her eyelids, and the upward thrust of such an immense relief that she thought she would rise weightless, through the wind.

“It was sudden sense of freedom and safety-because she realized that she knew nothing about the events of his life, had never known and would never need to know. The world of chance- of families, meals, schools, people, of aimless people dragging the load of some unknown guilt-was not theirs, could not change him, could not matter. He and she had never spoken of the things that happened to them, but only of what the thought and of what they would do…”

3. Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte

“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Edgar’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.” (Oh, my heart. Silly romantic perfection.)

“I’m tired, tired of being enclosed here. I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world and to be always there: not seeing dimly though tears and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart, but really with it, and in it.” (I feel this way all too frequently…alas…)

“You shouldn’t lie till 10 am. There’s the very prime of the morning gone long before that time. A person who has not done one half of the day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.”

“Try for yourself, if that be your spirit. I have done, and yield the argument to your saucy insolence.” (Saucy insolence! 🙂 a great phrase!)

4. Persuasion
Jane Austen

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever.”

“But Anne with an elegance of mind and a sweetness of character, which must have places her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either her father or her sister: her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way; -she was only Anne.”

“How eloquent Anne Elliot have been, how eloquent, at least, were her wishes on the side of earthly warm attachment, and a cheerful confidence in futurity, against that over anxious caution which seems to insure exertion and distrust over Providence. She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older- the natural sequence of an unnatural beginning.”

“Anne felt the utter impossibility, from her knowledge of his mind, that he coda be unvisited by remembrance any more than herself. There must be the same immediate association of thought, though she was very far from conceiving it to be of equal pain…there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feeling so in unison, no countenance so beloved. Now they were as strangers, for they could never become reacquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.”

“My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, that is what I call good company.”

“You are mistaken,” said he gently, “that is not good company that is the best. Good company requires only birth, education and manners, and with regard to education is not every nice. Birth and good manners are essential, but a little learning is by no means a dangerous thing in good company, on the contrary, it will do very well.”

“Mr. Elliot was rational, discreet, polished, but he was not open. There was never any burst of feeling, any warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others. This, to Anne, was a decided imperfection. Her early impressions were incurables. She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusing did captivate her still…Mr. Elliot was generally too agreeable.”

“She had hoped to be wise and reasonable in time, but alas! alas! she must confess to herself that she was not wise yet.”

“I do regard her as one who is too modest for the world in general to be aware of half her accomplishments and too highly accomplished for modesty to be natural in any other woman.”

“Surely, if there be constant attachment on each side, our hearts must understand each other ere long. We are not boy and girl, to be captiously irritable, misled by every moment’s inadvertence, and wantonly playing with our own happiness.”

“You should not have suspected me now, the case so different, and my age so different. If I was wrong in yielding to persuasion once, remember that it was to persuasion exerted on the side of safety, not of risk. When I yielded, I thought it was to duty; but no duty could be called in aid here. In marrying a man indifferent to me, all risk would have been incurred, and all duty violated.”

5.Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte

“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs. We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world.”

“Be sure that this is the only tie he seriously acknowledges between you and him; so don’t make him the object of your fine feelings, your raptures, agonies, and so forth. He is not of your order; keep to your caste, and be too self-respecting to lavish the love of the whole heart, soul, and strength, where such a gift is not wanted and would be despised.”

“Most true is it that “beauty is in the eye of the gazer.” My master’s colourless, olive face, square, massive brow, broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, grim mouth,–all energy, decision, will,–were not beautiful, according to rule; but they were more than beautiful to me; they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me,–that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously arrived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.”

“He is not to them what he is to me,” I thought: “he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine;–I am sure he is–I feel akin to him–I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him…Every good, true, vigorous feeling I have gathers impulsively round him. I know I must conceal my sentiments: I must smother hope; I must remember that he cannot care much for me. For when I say that I am of his kind, I do not mean that I have his force to influence, and his spell to attract; I mean only that I have certain tastes and feelings in common with him. I must, then, repeat continually that we are for ever sundered:- and yet, while I breathe and think, I must love him.”

“Miss Ingram was a mark beneath jealousy: she was too inferior to excite the feeling. Pardon the seeming paradox; I mean what I say. She was very showy, but she was not genuine: she had a fine person, many brilliant attainments; but her mind was poor, her heart barren by nature: nothing bloomed spontaneously on that soil; no unforced natural fruit delighted by its freshness. She was not good; she was not original: she used to repeat sounding phrases from books: she never offered, nor had, an opinion of her own. She advocated a high tone of sentiment; but she did not know the sensations of sympathy and pity; tenderness and truth were not in her…Yes; the future bridegroom, Mr. Rochester himself, exercised over his intended a ceaseless surveillance; and it was from this sagacity–this guardedness of his–this perfect, clear consciousness of his fair one’s defects– this obvious absence of passion in his sentiments towards her, that my ever-torturing pain arose.”

“If you knew it, you are peculiarly situated: very near happiness; yes, within reach of it. The materials are all prepared; there only wants a movement to combine them. Chance laid them somewhat apart; let them be once approached and bliss results.”

**

“I like to serve you, sir, and to obey you in all that is right.”

“Precisely: I see you do… Well, you too have power over me, and may injure me: yet I dare not show you where I am vulnerable, lest, faithful and friendly as you are, you should transfix me at once.”

**

“That you may, my good little girl: there is not another being in the world has the same pure love for me as yourself–for I lay that pleasant unction to my soul, Jane, a belief in your affection.”

I loved him very much–more than I could trust myself to say–more than words had power to express.

“Ask something more,” he said presently; “it is my delight to be entreated, and to yield.”

**

“I am not ambitious.”

“Well, if you are not ambitious, you are–” He paused.

“What?”

“I was going to say, impassioned: but perhaps you would have misunderstood the word, and been displeased. I mean, that human affections and sympathies have a most powerful hold on you. I am sure you cannot long be content to pass your leisure in solitude, and to devote your working hours to a monotonous labour wholly void of stimulus…”

**

“It is hard work to control the workings of inclination and turn the bent of nature; but that it may be done, I know from experience. God has given us, in a measure, the power to make our own fate; and when our energies seem to demand a sustenance they cannot get–when our will strains after a path we may not follow–we need neither starve from inanition, nor stand still in despair: we have but to seek another nourishment for the mind, as strong as the forbidden food it longed to taste–and perhaps purer; and to hew out for the adventurous foot a road as direct and broad as the one Fortune has blocked up against us, if rougher than it.”

6. World and Other Places
Jeanette Winterson

“All of one’s life is a struggle towards that; the narrow path between freedom and belonging. I have sometimes sacrificed freedom in order to belong, but more often I have given up all hope of belonging.”

“I live in the space between chaos and shape. I walk the line that continually threatens to lose its tautness under me, dropping me into dark pit where there is no meaning. At other times the line is so wired that it lights up the soles of my feet, gradually my whole body, until I am my own beacon, and I see then the beauty of newly created worlds, a form that is not random. A new beginning. I saw all this in him and it frightened me.”

“What is there to say about love? You could sweep up all the wolds and stack them in the gutter and love wouldn’t be any different, wouldn’t feel any different, the hurt in the heart, the headachy desire that hardly submits to language. What we can’t tame we talk about.”

“Today we have reached the middle, the point of no return. Today the future is nearer than the past.”

“Is compassion possible between a man and woman? When I say (as I have not said), ‘I want to take care of you’, do I mean ‘I want you to take care of me’?

“But the truth is other as truth always is. What holds the small space between my legs is not your artistic tongue nor any of the other parts you play at will but the universe beneath the sheets that we make together.”

“Come again, she asked? Yes tomorrow, under the sodium street lights, under the tick of the clock. Under my obligations, my history, my fears, this now. This fizzy, giddy all consuming now. I will not let time lie to me. I will not listen to dead voices or unborn pain. ‘What if?’ has no power against ‘What if not?” The not of you is unbearable. I must have you. Let them prate, those scorn-eyed anti-romantics. Love is not the oil and I am not the machine. Love is you and here I am. Now.”

“They were quiet then because Sappho hadn’t learned a language. She was still two greedy hands and an open mouth. She throbbed like an outboard motor, she was as sophisticated as a ham sandwich. She had nothing to offer but herself, and Picasso, who thought she had seen it all before, smiled like a child and fell in love.”

“What we were we were in equal parts, and twin souls to one another. We like to play roles but we know who we are. You are beauty to me. Not only sensuous beauty that pleases the eye but artistic beauty, magnificently ugly and you frighten me for all the right reasons.”

“The future is still intact, still unredeemed, but the past is irredeemable. She is not who she thought she was. Every action and decision led her here. The moment had been waiting, they way the top step of the stairs waits for the sleep walker. She had fallen and now she is awake.”

“No safety without risk and what you risk revels what you value.”

“When the can hardly see we are most likely to fall in love…”

“There are times, when I am on my own, fixing a drink, walking upstairs, when I see the door waiting for me. I have to stop myself pulling the bolt and turning the handle. Why? On the other side of the door is a mirror, and I will have to see myself. I’m not afraid of what I am. I’m afraid I will see what I am not.”

“In my city of dreams the roads lead nowhere; that is, they lead off the edge of the world into infinite space. Under my feet the road itself that carried me forward, until there is nothing under my feet but air. Where to now, without tarmac and map? What direction do I take now that all directions can be taken?

“Only here, only now, what is between us is true. You and I, this honesty we make.”

“The planets are bodies in the solar system and so are we. You and I in elliptical orbs circling life. It is life we want, but we daren’t come too close for fear it might burn us away, this life in its intensity. ..When I hold you in this night-soaked bed it is courage for the day I seek. Courage that when the light comes I will turn towards it. It couldn’t be simpler. It couldn’t be harder.”In this little night covered world with you I hope to find what I long for; a clue, a map, a bird flying south, and when the light comes we will get dressed together and go.”

“What I fear I avoid. What I fear I pretend does not exist. What I fear is quietly killing me. Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me. Let the light in before it is too late.”

‘What do you want to be when you grow up?” I ask myself in the mirror most days.
‘Myself. I want to be myself.’

“I no longer knew which way I wanted to go. Pursuit or retreat. In life, ordinary lifetime life, it is so easy to march down the road until your legs finally give way and everyone crows round the coffin and declare you did your best. You didn’t though did you? The road was marked and you took it. Never mind that it was a ring road circling the heart.”

7. Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera

“Tomas came to this conclusion: Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).

“For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain on feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”

“Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us. We read its message much as gypsies read the images made by coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup…Necessity knows no magic formulae-they are all left to chance.”

“No, vertigo is something other then the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”

“She was in the grip of an insuperable longing to fall. She lived in a constant state of vertigo. “Pick me up, ” is the message of a person who keeps falling. Tomas kept picking her up, patiently.”

“…for Franz, love was not an extention of public life but its antithesis. It meant a longing to put himself at the mercy of his partner. He who gives himself up like a prisoner of war must give up his weapons as well. And deprived in advance of defense against a possible blow, he cannot help wondering when the blow will fall. That is why I can say for Franz, love meant the constant expectation of a blow.”

“She had an overwhelming desire to tell him, like the most banal of women, Don’t let me go, hold me tight, make me your plaything, your slave, be strong! But they were words she could not say.”

“Sabrina processed with her melancholy musings; What if she had a man who ordered her about? A man who wanted to master her? How long would she put up with him? Not five minutes! From which it follows that no man was right for her. Strong or weak.”

“‘Why don’t you ever use your strength on me?” she said.
‘Because love means renouncing strength, ” said Franz softly.”

“His adventures with Tereza began at the exact point where his adventures with other women left off. It took place on the other side of the imperative that pushed him into conquest after conquest. He had no desire to uncover anything in Tereza. She had come to him uncovered. He had made love to her before he could grab for the imaginary scapula he used to open the prostrate body of the world. Before he could start wondering what she would be like when they made love, he loved her.”

“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.”

“Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe, and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short. Perhaps the reason what we are unable to love is that we yearn to be loved, that is, we demand something (love) from our partner instead of delivering ourselves up to him demand-free and asking for nothing but his company.”

“Happiness is the longing for repetition.”

8. Letters to a Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke

“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your while life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose.”

“A work of art is good if it has arisen out of. That is the only way one can judge it. So, dear Sir, I can’t give you any advice but this: to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create. Accept that answer, just as it is given to you, without trying to interpret it. Perhaps you will discover that you are called to be an artist. Then take the destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and must find everything in himself and in Nature, to whom his whole life is devoted.”

“Works of art are of an infinite solitude, and no means of approach is so useless as criticism. Only love can touch and hold them and be fair to them. Always trust yourself and your own feeling, as opposed to argumentations, discussions, or introductions of that sort; if it turns out that you are wrong, then the natural growth of your inner life will eventually guide you to other insights. Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.”

“If you trust in Nature, in the small things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge. You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living; train your for that – but take whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself, and don’t hate anything.”

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. for those who are near you are far away, you write, and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast. And if what is near you is far away, then your vastness is already among the stars and is very great; be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust..Don’t ask for any advice from them and don’t expect any understanding, but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like and inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

“There is only one solitude, and it is vast, heavy, difficult to bear, and almost everyone has hours when he would gladly exchange it for any kind of sociability, however trivial or cheap, for the tiniest outward agreement with the first person who comes along, the most unworthy. . . . But perhaps these are the very hours during which solitude grows; for its growing is painful as the growing of boys and sad as the beginning of spring. But that must not confuse you. What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours – that is what you must be able to attain.”

“Think, dear Sir, of the world that you carry inside you, and call this thinking whatever you want to: a remembering of your own childhood or a yearning toward a future of your own – only be attentive to what is arising within you, and place that above everything you perceive around you. What is happening on your innermost self is worthy of your entire love; somehow you must find a way to work at it, and not lose too much time or too much courage in clarifying your attitude toward people.”

“Most people have (with the help of conventions) turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it.”

“It is also good to love: because love is difficult For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.That is why young people, who are beginners in everything, are not yet capable of love: it is something they must learn. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered around their solitary, anxious, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always a long, secluded time ahead and far on into life, is – ; solitude, a heightened and deepened kind of aloneness for the person who loves. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person (for what would a union be of two people who are unclarified, unfinished, and still incoherent – ?), it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances.”

“And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it “happens” (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being.”

“There is probably no point in my going into your questions now; for what I could say about your tendency to doubt or about your inability to bring your outer and inner lives into harmony or about all the other thing that oppress you – : is just what I have already said: just the wish that you may find in yourself enough patience to endure and enough simplicity to have faith; that you may gain more and more confidence in what is difficult and in your solitude among other people. And as for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.”

“And about feelings: All feelings that concentrate you and lift you up are pure; only that feeling is impure which grasps just one side of your being and thus distorts you. Everything you can think of as you face your childhood, is good. Everything that makes more of you than you have ever been, even in your best hours, is right. Every intensification is good, if it is in your entire blood, if it isn’t intoxication or muddiness, but joy which you can see into, clear to the bottom. “

“And your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become criticism. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perhaps bewildered and embarrassed, perhaps also protesting. But don’t give in, insist on arguments, and act in this way, attentive and persistent, every single time, and the day will come when instead of being a destroyer, it will become one of your best workers – perhaps the most intelligent of all the ones that are building your life.”

9. Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman
Alice Steinbach

“I realized that first impressions about hotel rooms are like first loves: neither is based on the concept of how, over time, one can come to appreciated pleasures of durability over infatuation.”

“A lesson I hoped to learn in the months ahead: how to stop rushing from place to place, always looking ahead to the next thing while the moment in front of me slipped away unnoticed.”

“What adds up to a life is nothing more than the accumulation of small daily moments.”

“Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.”

“The unexpectedness of life, waiting round every corner, catches even wise women unawares. To avoid corners altogether is, after all, to refuse to live.” Freya Stark
M-EA (Mishap equals Excellent Adventure)

“All serious daring starts from within.” Eudora Welty

10. Waltzing the Cat
Pam Houston

“…that she has met him several times before only adds to what he calls her charming basket of imperfections. The only Buddha I could love, he says, is one who is capable of forgetfulness and sin.”

“It’s sunny as Bermuda out here, and I’m still so high from the boat race that I can tell myself there’s nothing to be afraid of. Like sometimes when you go to a move and you get so lost in the story that when you’re walking out of the theater you can’t remember anything at all about your own life. You might forget, for example, that you live in a city where people have so many choices that they throw words away…you might forget that you never expected to be alone at thirty-one…or that all the people you know-without exception- have their hearts all wrapped around someone who won’t ever love them back.”

“I’m scared,” I say again, but this time it comes out stronger, almost like singing, as though it might be the first step-in fifty five or a thousand-towards something like a real life, the very first step toward something that will last.”

“It was the end of the old year, two weeks before my thirty-third birthday, the age my Catholic friend Tony said all things would be revealed to me…”

“What I’d like to know,” Carter said, “is when we are gonna grow up enough to get over the idea that there’s some perfect person out there for each of is who’s gonna make every day of our lives like Paradise.”
“This is Paradise, ” I said, “The three of us and Phaedrus, out on the wild wide sea.”
“I’ve been doing some reading about the original Phaedrus…Phaedrus asks Socrates whether it is better to spend your life with someone who you’re compatible with, like a friend, or someone who you’re crazy for, someone who will make your life a living hell.”
“And what does Socrates say?…he says you should be with someone you can get along with, and he spends thirty pages proving it…Logically….Like a theorem…Then he changes his mind and says you should be with the person who makes your live a living hell…What he says, is that when we fall full tilt in love with somebody, it’s because our soul recognizes another soul that it was mingled with on some previous plane…Even Socrates says we shouldn’t settle.”

“I thought that life was like that, that you could frame it like a photograph, according to your need. It was that part of me…The very same part that knew that for every positive image there was a pure and perfect negative, that right on the other side of that piece of paper called making things up, was a whole other story, and that story was about learning to believe in the things that had been there all along.”

“Find yourself a place you belong in the universe…a place where the dirt feels like goodness under your feet. Take the right picture and a man will walk into it. If you can bear him even a little, then for a while let him stay.”

“What do you want me to say to Carter about sex?”
“Tell him I’ve discovered that it’s very simple. That you have it, then you have it again, then you have it again; and then you get up and have breakfast.”

“Everything good I’ve gotten in life I’ve gotten by plunging in, ” I said…
“Sure,” she said, “and everything bad you’ve gotten in your life you’ve gotten by plunging in.”
There was no arguing with that, so I stayed silent.

“What are you thinking?” Marcus said.
“That I don’t know who to be happy,” I said. “Strong and excited, spontaneous, even brilliant, but this happiness thing is like another girl’s clothes.”

“It’s easy to believe being alone is the strong thing, but the river taught me long ago that it’s a stronger thing still to make yourself fragile. To say I love you, I dare you. I want you with me.”

Others read…

FICTION

Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451

Albert Camus
The Stranger

Pearl Cleage
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

Douglas Coupland
All Families Are Psychotic

Douglas Coupland
Girlfriend in a Coma

Jeffrey Frank
The Columnist

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude

Susan Gilmour
Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress

Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

Lorraine Hansberry
A Raisin In The Sun

Aldous Huxley
Brave New World

Neil LaBute
Fat Pig

Nicole Krauss
History of Love

Cheryl Peck
Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs

Ayn Rand
Anthem

Ayn Rand
The Night of January 16th

David Schickler
Kissing in Manhattan

David Sedaris
Me Talk Pretty Some Day

John Steinbeck
The Pearl

Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina

Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of Champions

Kurt Vonnegut
Cat’s Cradle

“I am about to marry a wonderful little girl. There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look. I am proof of that.”

“I was surprised and mawkishly heartbroken. I am always moved by that seldom used treasure, the sweetness which with most girls can sing.”

“Busy, busy, busy is what we Bokonists whisper whenever we think of how complicated and impredictable the machinery of life really is.”

My God this is such a great line…

“She improvised around the music of the Pullman porter’s son; went from liquid lyricism to rasping lechery to the shrill skittishness of a frightened child, to a heroin nightmare. “

“And then I remembered The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon, which I had read in its entirety the night before. The Fourteenth Book is entitled “What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?”

It doesn’t take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period.

This is it: Nothing.”

Kurt Vonnegut
A Man Without A Country

Philip Roth
Plot Against America

POETRY

Deepak Chopra
Love Poems of Rumi

EE Cummings
73 Poems

Roger Housden
Ten Poems to Change Your Life

Sylvia Plath
Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath

Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass

NONFICTION

The Language of Letting Go
Melodie Beattie

Virtues of Leadership
William Bennett

Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent
Judy Ford

The Freedom Writers Diary: How A Group Of Teens Used The Power Of The Pen To Wage A War Against Intolerance

At First Light
Kevin Gaughan

Focusing
Eugene Gendlin

Ms. Moffett’s First Year: Becoming a Teacher in America
Abby Goodnough

If Grace Is True-Why God Will Save Every Person
Philip Gulley

Teaching Community
Bell Hooks

Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope
Jonathan Kozel

Savage Inequalities
Jonathan Kozel

Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century
Betsy Israel

Against Depression
Peter Kramer

Faith of My Fathers
John McCain

Worth Fighting For
John McCain

Page After Page
Heather Sellers

The Red Pencil: Convictions from Experience in Education
Theodore R. Sizer

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Shunryu Suzuki

It’s My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and Future of America
Christine Todd Whitman

First Days of School
Harry Wong

17,094

And what did I read in 2004 (when I started keeping track for the first time?)
Here’s the list of books I have completed since 6/1/04 (I liked the ones in BOLD)

1. Ten Minutes to Normal, Karen Hughes
2. Time Travelers Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
3. Murdering McKinley, Eric Rauchway
4. City of Light, Lauren Belfer
5. Portrait of An Artist, James Joyce
6. Love, Leo Busagalia
7. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard
8. Sailing the Wine Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter, Thomas Cahill
9. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, ZZ Packer
10. Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate, Barbara Boxer, Susan Collins
11. Shaman’s Daughter, Nan Salarno
12. How to Read and Why, Harold Bloom
13. My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
14. Benjamin Franklin, Walter Isaacson
15. Soulmates, Thomas Moore
16. Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis
17. Congressional Policy and Procedure, Walter J. Oleszek
18. Strangers in the Senate: Politics and the New Revolution of Women in America, Barbara Boxer, Nicole Boxer
19. A World Transformed, George Bush, Brent Scowcroft
20. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
21.We the Poor People: Work, Poverty, and Welfare, Joel F. Handler, Yeheskel Hasenfeld
22. Sonnets from the Portuguese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
23. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, Pablo Neruda
24. Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson
25. The Passion, Jeanette Winterson
26. The Giver, Lois Lowry
27. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
28 .The Writer’s Market Companion
29. Pepper Pike, Les Roberts
30. How to be Good, Nick Hornby
31. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
32. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
33. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
34. What if the Buddah Dated?, Charlotte Davis Kasl
35. Surfacing, Margaret Atwood
36. The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
37. Educating Esme, Esme Raji Raji Codell
38. Engaging Men, Lynda Curryn
39. The Sportswriter, Richard Ford
40. Rudy Giuliani Emporer of the City, Andrew Kirtzman
41. My Life (abridged, audiobook), Bill Clinton
42. Sammy’s Hill, Kristen Gore
43. I Am Charlotte Simmons, (unabridged audiobook)Tom Wolfe
44. Bergdorf Blondes, Plum Sykes
45. Amy and Isabella, Elizabeth Strout
46. He’s Just Not That Into You, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo
47. It’s My F***ing Birthday. Merill Markoe
48. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

Whatcha talkin' bout Willis?