Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books

It’s been a while since my last Top Ten Tuesday post.But,truth be told,I’ve been eyeing this particular top ten list for weeks.While I quite often share quotes from books I read or ones I stumble upon on goodreads on this blog,there are plenty which didn’t get to make the ”hall of fame”.Because the list is limited to ten quotes,I will only share quote from works I’ve read.Oh,Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme by Broke and Bookish.

1.Philip’s experience with books – Of Human Bondage

Philip had few friends. His habit of reading isolated him: it became such a need that after being in company for some time he grew tired and restless; he was vain of the wider knowledge he had acquired from the perusal of so many books, his mind was alert, and he had not the skill to hide his contempt for his companions’ stupidity.

In Somerset Maugham’s masterpiece,we follow Philip Carey’s life from childhood to adulthood,so we share his feelings in regard to various events occurring in his life .The quote above shows how he felt upon falling in love with literature.Needless to say,I saw myself in it.

2.Two old friends (Bose and the judge) discussing for the last time – The Inheritance of Loss

He now pleaded directly with the judge: “We’re friends, aren’t we?

“Aren’t we? Aren’t we friends?”

“Time passes, things change,” said the judge, feeling claustrophobia and embarrassment.

“But what is in the past remains unchanged, doesn’t it?”

“I think it does change. The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind, Bose.”

When I first saw this quote,which was before I read the book,I couldn’t understand what was so great about it.But when I read it in context,it struck me as something very powerful and deep.So much so that I read it to my mother – when I’m in awe of something,I have to share it with somebody else.I wanted to post it on my blog,but I had already shared two quotes from Kiran Desai’s books.If you concentrate a little bit,this quote’s sheer beauty will unveil itself to you.The quotability of The Inheritance of Loss is yet another attribute that makes it one of the best books of the last decade.

3.A politician messing up – The God of Small Things

He broke the egg but burned the omelette.

Surely,you must have heard of the saying ”You can’t have an omelette without breaking eggs”? Well it is also widely used by politicians to explain how sacrificing a comrade was essential for the good development of their plans.In The God of Small Things we witness such a politician betraying a fellow comrade only to see the betrayal backfire.I was really impressed then how Arundhati Roy managed to turn around the old saying into something incredibly witty.

4.The first conversation we witness between Levin and Kitty – Anna Karenina

“Are you going to stay in town long?” Kitty questioned him.

“I don’t know,” he answered, not thinking of what he was saying.
“How is it you don’t know?”

“I don’t know. It depends upon you,” he said, and was immediately horror-stricken at his own words.

Whether it was that she had heard his words, or that she did not want to hear them, she made a sort of stumble, twice struck out, and hurriedly skated away from him.

I wanted to share that famous scene –  which is arguably the most beautiful scene in the book between Kitty and Levin,but I didn’t want to spoil anything.So instead you have this witty and honest passage.Note to self: use Levin’s words in the future if in same situation.

4.Milan Kundera giving us insight on our unhappiness – The Unbearable Lightness of Being

And therein lies the whole of man’s plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.

This book changed my life.Milan Kundera opened my mind by showing me the different ways life and everything that ensues from it can be interpreted in.Here he tells us why,unlike dogs which will still be happy if taken for the same walk over and over for years,humans are bound to be unhappy.There are so many enlightening quotes in this book that it is a sort of guide to life – as far as you’re seeking this kind of knowledge.

5.A quote from Borges’s short story ”Funes the Memorious” – Labyrinths

I don’t know how many stars he could see in the sky.

Of course,this quote will make more sense if read in context,but I was somehow struck by its sheer beauty.There is something poetic in it.We don’t often take the time to look at stars,and even when we do,we never appreciate the number of them.I always think of stars as shining (this is technically false,as they’re long dead) little dots in the sky trying to hint at something bigger and beyond our imagination.

6.Nick Carraway reflecting on the craziness prevailing over Long Island – The Great Gatsby

‘Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge,’ I thought ‘anything at all….’ Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder.

This is a hugely insightful quote.Gatsby is a dream.He is an ideal.He is,for me,what Jane Eyre is to many girls and women.This quote reminds us that Gatsby is almost ethereal,except that instead of God,a human is his creator.(I don’t wish to say more,lest I spoil something).

7.One of the many folkloric tales in Things Fall Apart.

Mosquito […] had asked Ear to marry him, whereupon Ear fell on the floor in uncontrollable laughter. “How much longer do you think you will live?” she asked. “You are already a skeleton.” Mosquito went away humiliated, and any time he passed her way he told Ear that he was still alive.

I wanted to share something more revealing of the plot at first,but I didn’t want to bring in spoilers.This quote exemplifies what you may expect from the book.The language is bright and colourful,while the proverbs are very typical of the Igbo culture.This is why I devoured the book in a couple of days.It was not only fresh and compelling,but incredibly insightful and moving as well.Stumbling upon such little tales was just the icing on the cake.

8.A sublime bit of conversation between Lord Henry and his cousin Gladys – The Picture of Dorian Gray

What of Art?
-It is a malady.
-An Illusion.
-The fashionable substitute for Belief.
–You are a sceptic.
-Never! Scepticism is the beginning of Faith.
–What are you?
-To define is to limit.

I knew about Wilde before reading his novel,but seeing his legendary wittiness in context revealed his genius to me.Who else can write like that? The funny thing about this extract is that there is nothing that Lord Henry is saying that is false.Because of Wilde’s genius,I reckon that The Picture of Dorian Gray might as well be one of the most quotable classics (or even books) of all time.

9.Gregor Samsa trying to explain the changes he is undergoing – The Metamorphosis

I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.

The Metamorphosis is one of Kafka’s best works.There is more that meets the eye in it.It is filled with so much pathos,and I could easily relate to Gregor.Was he the one going through a metamorphosis,or was it his parents in regard to what happened to him? At the time I was reading this book,I couldn’t stand my father anymore nor could I bear living in his house.I felt I was being alienated,so I really could understand what Gregor felt.I was impressed with the meticulous way Kafka described Gregor’s feelings even if the story is extremely absurd.Well,that’s his trademark style anyway.

10.One of the many quotable lines in The Sense of an Ending

But time…how time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but we were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time…give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.

Reading this particular line horrified me.This book somehow gave me a glimpse of what I can expect in the forthcoming years.Life will fall short of my expectations,but I will settle with that and keep on going.What is striking with this book,not this line alone,is how it analyses time and memory in their essence.They are more complex than we imagined,playing a much more important part in our lives than we could suspect.


2 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books”

  1. I like the way you set this up: not only the quotes are insightful, but your comments are as well. Bravo! I particularly like the Tolstoy one ….. it takes me right back to that scene in Anna Karenina. I’m really hoping to get to Kafka soon; the more I read about him, the more intrigued I am.

    Thanks for sharing your favourites!

    1. Oh I’m glad that you liked this post!

      I’m not sure others quite liked it,but I really wanted to write such a post.

      I wanted at first to post Levin’s marriage proposal,but that would be a massive spoiler to many people.So I settled for the other one.

      Also,yeah,I’m curious how you will find Kafka.His books can be complicated and frustrating,but rewarding if you read them from a different perspective!

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