Meaningful quotes can be hard to define, since they so often depend on the context.
But this week’s Top Ten Tuesday post is all about “Inspirational/Thought-Provoking Book Quotes,” so I’ve done my best to compile my favorites:
“Why do they send these people here? Making themselves miserable and taking up the place of people who would enjoy Oxford? We haven’t got room for women who aren’t and never will be scholars…”
“I know,” said the Dean, impatiently. “But schoolmistresses and parents are such jugginses.…”
—Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers
Gaudy Night is a deep and complex examination of the role of women in society, higher education, and the interplay of individuals in a romance. There’s also a philosophically-grounded mystery. Highly recommended.
“Of course,” said Miss Twitterton, “they had to say he was popular with his colleagues. Haven’t you noticed that murdered people are always well dressed and popular?”
“They have to be,” said Wimsey. “It makes it more mysterious and pathetic. Just as girls who disappear are always bright and home-loving and have no men friends.”
—”The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face”, Lord Peter: The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories, Dorothy Sayers
Ms. Sayers has quite a knack for conveying believable characters and revealing truths of human nature with a memorable turn-of-phrase.
I think journalism – and high-risk girls – haven’t changed.
“How in blazes do you know all these horrors?” cried Flambeau.
The shadow of a smile crossed the round, simple face of his clerical opponent.
“Oh, by being a celibate simpleton, I suppose,” he said. “Has it never struck you that a man who does next to nothing but hear men’s real sins is not likely to be wholly unaware of human evil? But, as a matter of fact, another part of my trade, too, made me sure you weren’t a priest.”
“What?” asked the thief, almost gaping.
“You attacked reason,” said Father Brown. “It’s bad theology.”
—The Innocence of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton
Chesterton’s mystery short stories focus on the human psyche and the philosophical motives under-pinning the crimes. And his detective, Father Brown, is unassuming, humble, and brilliant.
You can find the first collection for free at Project Gutenberg!
You can thus get the humans to accept as rhetorical eulogies of “being in love” what were in fact plain descriptions of the real significance of sexual intercourse. The truth is that wherever a man lies with a woman, there, whether they like it or not, a transcendental relation is set up between them which must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured.
—The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
“When she came to the lodge she was surprised to see it all dark and the door shut. As she stood at the door with one hand on the latch, a new thought came to her. How if [her husband] Mark did not want her — not tonight, nor in that way, nor any time, nor in any way? How if Mark were not there after all? A great gap – of relief or of disappointment, no one could say – was made in her mind by this thought. Still she did not move the latch. Then she noticed that the window, the bedroom window, was open. Clothes were piled on a chair inside the room so carelessly that they lay over the sill: the sleeve of a shirt – Mark’s shirt – even hung over down the outside wall. And in all this damp too. How exactly like Mark! Obviously it was high time she went in.”
—That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis
I was trying to think of something from my favorite book to include, and the quote that stood out in my mind was the last line…
“I think I should have liked to be a cook. Or possibly a hospital nurse, but I think I should have been better at cooking. Only, you see, those are two of the things Mother’s always trying to get people out of the way of thinking women’s sphere ought to be restricted to.”
—Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,” said Gimli.
“Maybe,” said Elrond, “but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.”
“Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,” said Gimli.
“Or break it,” said Elrond. “Look not too far ahead!…”
“Good…good luck!” cried Bilbo, stuttering with the cold. “I don’t suppose you will be able to keep a diary, Frodo my lad, but I shall expect a full account when you get back. And don’t be too long! Farewell!”
—Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien
Gotta love Bilbo…
“Go and thrust both your hands into that fire,” she said quickly, almost hurriedly.
Curdie dared not stop to think. It was much too terrible to think about. He rushed to the fire, and thrust both of his hands right into the middle of the heap of flaming roses, and his arms halfway up to the elbows.
—The Princess and Curdie, George MacDonald
I’ve used this on myself, when I had to do hard or scary things – like jumping off the diving board.
If you’ve read the book, of course, you know why the princess told him to do this, and the cool thing that happened because of it. But sometimes to get through the hard thing, we can’t let ourselves focus on it too much…just act.
If you haven’t read this great book (and the one that comes before it) – it’s free on Project Gutenberg!
It was a marvellous day in late August, and Wimsey’s soul purred within him as he pushed the car along. The road from Kirkcudbright to Newton-Stewart is of a varied loveliness hard to surpass, and with a sky full of bright sun and rolling cloud-banks, hedges filled with flowers, a well-made road, a lively engine and the prospect of a good corpse at the end of it, Lord Peter’s cup of happiness was full. He was a man who loved simple pleasures.
—The Five Red Herrings, Dorothy Sayers
“Rope!” [Sam] muttered. “No rope! And only last night you said to yourself: ‘Sam, what about a bit of rope? You’ll want it, if you haven’t got it.’ Well, I’ll want it. I can’t get it now.”
—The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien
The door thumped — someone on the other side had tried it, and found it locked.
“Get this door open.”
“Who’s there?” Captain Grit called back, flicking his lash experimentally. “I’m busy with –”
The door crashed against the wall, and framed in the sudden sunlight a huge, dark figure shoved forward, flashing a smile.
“He wasn’t talking to you.”
—Renegade (White Mesa Chronicles), Kimia Wood
Okay, so it’s kind of cheating…but I’m not the only one who enjoys this line, and it makes me grin every time I see it.
Have Any Favorite Book Quotes?
The hardest part for me with sharing meaningful book quotes is finding them again…since I don’t typically mark them except in non-fiction books.
What are some of your favorite book quotes?
She currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.
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