The Spirit of Words Affecting a Reader

Years ago, I began the practice of underlining sentences and phrases from books that stuck out; a different description I hadn’t heard before or it aroused some kind of emotion from me. After I underline my favorites, I transfer them to a notebook, indicating author, book, and page number. Today, I’d like to share some of these with you. Not all of these books are my favorites.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Every volume has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grow and strengthens. (5-6)

Her voice was pure crystal…so fragile I feared that her words would break if I interrupted them. (19)

Childhood devotions make unfaithful and fickle lovers. (34)

There are worse prisons than words. (166)

I looked at her as if I’d just missed a train. (175)

Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you. (209)

Most of us have the good or bad fortune of seeing our lives fall apart so slowly we barely notice. (419)

Underworld by Don DeLillo

Russ hears the soul of the crowd repeat the sorry arc of the baseball, a moaned vowel falling softly to earth. (35)

The dead fall upon the living. (50)

gossip, rumor, promotions, personalities, it’s only natural…All the human lapse that take up space in the company soul. (89)

Her voice was shaped..with brandy static in it or just the slightest throaty thing of night desire. (115)

The cheese cake was smooth and lush, with the personality of a warm and well-to-do uncle who knows a hundred dirty jokes and will die of sexual exertions in the arms of his mistress. (180)

The eyes fizzed like carbonated water. (212)

But time binds us to aging flesh. (222)

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Heat rose from the the streets with the intensity of a child’s fever. (35)

Shafts of sunlight struck through the rising mist of human breath. (181)

A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi

A day limpid and soft, as if in apology for all that weeping the night before. (12)

We violate the innocence of things in the name of rationality so we can wander about, uninterrupted, in our search for passion and sentiment. (35)

Power issues don’t rear up as frenzied in a marriage between older people, the riper souls understanding the maneuvers to be ruinous. (160)

How I wish I could give away pieces of this day like loaves of warm bread. (186)

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

like lying back on the grass your father’s just mowed-comfort food for the nose. (91)

Fine lines bracket her mouth, parentheses around a lifetime of words I was not around to hear. (117)

The human capacity for burden is like bamboo–far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance. (196)

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

He used to say that life was all about a boy finding the perfect girl; he was lucky enough to have been handed his in a labor and delivery room. (10)

The ones who only saw you as a single step, rather than a destination. (160)

The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease

His voice sounded like the sifting of river gravel worn smooth by the current. (37)

The whole forest slept beneath a down blanket. (215)

The Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Every toilet bowl gurgled like an Italian tenor with a mouthful of Lavoris, and the refrigerator made noises at night like buffalo grazing. (3)

The heat of her tear water, the sheer velocity of its flow, finally obscured the already vague circumstances of its origins. (5)

poised as if she were a blood-drop on the point of a dagger. (25)

Death is impatient and thoughtless. It barges into your room when you are right in the middle of something, and it doesn’t bother to wipe its boots. (51)

Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air-moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh. (60)

The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer

Of course many bars in Manhasset, like bars everywhere, were nasty places, full of pickled people marinating in regret. (7)

Life is war. An endless sequence of battles, conflicts, ambushes, skirmishes, with all too-brief interludes of peace. (384)

All this searching and longing for the secret of being a good man, and all I needed to do was follow the example of one very good woman. (388)

What are some of your favorite sentences or phrases?

Words and Inspiration,
Baer Necessities

2 thoughts on “The Spirit of Words Affecting a Reader

  1. I still have the spreadsheet I made when I was teaching. I would write a different quote on the board every day of the year. Students looked forward to them, but I never did more than leave q quote. I’ve seen some teacher do daily discussion of such things, but I think there’s merit too in simply planting seeds…

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