Alongside music, literature plays a profoundly important role in my life. There is nothing more sublime than allowing myself to be pulled through stitches of anothers’ imagination, unravelling them as I go, losing myself among them. I adore the notion of physically sitting in a dank grey train station waiting room while my mind is whisked away to a golden Cornish beach, a buzzing East End pub, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
I read when I’m most happy, among tall grass on warm hazy days. I read crime thrillers, books about bleak dystopian futures or the odd gothic horror at these times. When I feel a bit meh I’ll pick up an old favourite – The Hobbit, Sense and Sensibility or A Room with a View – and curl up on my bed, as comforting as reaching the driveway at home after a long journey.
Reading, to me, is like breathing. Absorbing language like oxygen, rhythmic and vital. Yet sometimes, the steady wash of words and images and dialogue and action will halt, very suddenly. Occasionally there will lie a sentence or phrase that moves me so intensely that I stop reading. I take a moment to try and digest it and understand why it’s got me in the feels. I read it again. And again. I put the book down. I might cry. I pick the book up and carry on. I don’t forget it.
I think about these quotes often and refer to them when the appropriate occasion arises. When my best friend’s mum was diagnosed with cancer two years ago I sent one to her. When I feel anxious I reach out for the one that puts things into perspective for me. On the day I got married I thought about a particular phrase over and over.
Although I have many, many favourites, the following are the phrases I seem to refer to most, for varied reasons. From books I’ve studied and loved and those that I’ve picked up for pleasure. They’re the quotes that shake my core and take me to a place of wonder.
John Green – The Fault In Our Stars
“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”
J.R.R. Tolkien – The Lord Of The Rings
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”
Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go
“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart.”
Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights
“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
Matt Haig – How To Stop Time
“That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days – some years – some decades – are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.”
E.M. Forster – A Room With A View
“This desire to govern a woman – it lies very deep, and men and women must fight it together…. But I do love you surely in a better way than he does.” He thought. “Yes – really in a better way. I want you to have your own thoughts even when I hold you in my arms.”
Sarah Winman – When God Was A Rabbit
“Nothing stays forgotten for long, Elly. Sometimes we simply have to remind the world that we’re special and that we’re still here.”
Chinua Achebe – Things Fall Apart
“A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”
Neil Gaiman – American Gods
“He wondered whether home was a thing that happened to a place after a while, or if it was something that you found in the end, if you simply walked and waited and willed it long enough.”
J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”