Sentences I Wish I Wrote

My favorite lines I've come across while reading - a running list

“I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”

F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Neil Gaiman, Coraline

“Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”

Frank Herbert, Dune

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.”

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

“If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

JK Rowling, The Goblet of Fire

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”

Terry Pratchett, The Diggers

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.”

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

“A king fortifies himself with a castle, a gentleman with a desk.”

Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.”

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

“The story so far: In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been regarded as a bad move.”

Douglas Adams, Restaurant at the End of the Universe

“If your brains were dynamite there wouldn't be enough to blow your hat off.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

“Hell may have all the best composers, but heaven has all the best choreographers.”

Terry Pratchett, Good Omens

“It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever," he said. "Have you thought of going into teaching?”

Terry Pratchett, Mort

“News is what a chap who doesn't care much about anything wants to read. And it's only news until he's read it. After that, it's dead.”

Evelyn Waugh, Scoop

“You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"Why, what did she tell you?"
"I don't know, I didn't listen.”
“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”

Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don't see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”

Hunter S Thompson, The Proud Highway

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

“Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

“Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”

C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”

C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew

“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

CS Lewis, The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”

“She's the sort of woman who lives for others - you can tell the others by their hunted expression.”

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“Never laugh at live dragons.”

JRR Tolkien

“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”

JRR Tolkien, The Children of Húrin

“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.”

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship—be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles—is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.”

David Foster Wallace, This Is Water

“How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.”

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

“A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well — or ill?”

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

George Orwell, 1984

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

George RR Martin, A Game of Thrones

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

George RR Martin, A Dance with Dragons

“And I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.”

George RR Martin, A Game of Thrones

“My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer and I have my mind...and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge. That's why I read so much Jon Snow.”

George RR Martin, A Game of Thrones

“When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

George RR Martin, A Clash of Kings

“Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.”

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Grey

“My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”

Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

George Orwell, Animal Farm

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit

“People have an annoying habit of remembering things they shouldn't.”

Christopher Paolini, Eragon

“I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”

Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried

“The strongest guard is placed at the gateway to nothing,” he said. “Maybe because the condition of emptiness is too shameful to be divulged.”

Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Tender Is The Night

“A journey will have pain and failure. It is not only the steps forward that we must accept. It is the stumbles. The trials. The knowledge that we will fail. That we will hurt those around us. But if we stop, if we accept the person we are when we fail, the journey ends. That failure becomes our destination.”

Brandon Sanderson, Oathbringer

"Time ticks by; we grow older. Before we know it, too much time has passed and we've missed the chance to have other people hurt us. To a younger me this sounded like luck; to an older me this sounds like quite a tragedy."

Douglas Coupland, Life After God

“You can boast about anything if it’s all you have. Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast.”

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

“After all, what can a first impression tell us about someone we’ve just met …Why no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brushstroke about Botticelli. By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration but our reconsideration…”

Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow

“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"A man went to knock on the King's door and said, Give me a boat!"

Jose Saramago, A Tale of the Unknown Island

“The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”

Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men

“There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance

“[...]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

"I closed my eyes, still faintly asparkle with optic fireworks, and wondered if I didn't have something evil inhabiting my brain, a malignant spider opening out its long legs like the ribs of an umbrella."

Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys

“It is about a search, too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”

Studs Terkel, Working

“Alas, poor gentleman, He Look’d not like the ruins of his youth But like the ruins of those ruins.”

John Ford, The Broken Heart

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

“…the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

George Eliot, Middlemarch

“Naive dreams are love’s last lines of defense”

Fredrik Backman, The Winners

“Rid the mind of knowledge when looking for pleasure. Or start thinking and find a lot of pain.”

J. P. Donleavy , The Saddest Summer of Samuel S

“She wonders if he hears the shake in her voice, and whether he mistakes it for fear.”

Alix E. Harrow, The Once and Future Witches

“That’s all magic is, really: the space between what you have and what you need.”

Alix E. Harrow, The Once and Future Witches

"Sometimes a thing can seem an impossible leap, then when you do it, you find it's just been a little step all along."

Joe Abercrombie, The Heroes

“She was built with the curves like the hill of a racing yacht, and you missed none of it with that wool jersey.”

Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

“I was as empty of life as a scarecrow’s pockets.”

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

“The bear leaves the earth like a bolt of lightning retrieving itself and making its thunder backwards.”

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

"What you think is the point is not the point at all, only the beginning of the sharpness.”

Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

"A man who trusts everyone is a fool, and a man who trusts no one is a fool. We are all fools if we live long enough ..”

Robert Jordan, Winter's Heart

“Perhaps all our lives are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before…”

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

“To learn is not to know. There are the learners, and there are the learned. Memory makes one, philosophy the other.”

Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson's Essays

“Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two is four. If that is granted, all else will follow”

George Orwell, 1984

“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.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own / Three Guineas