I’ve always made a habit of carrying a notebook around with me for thoughts I wanted to capture. But I recently bought a notebook dedicated to quotes and ideas I wanted to remember from the books I’m reading. It seemed a bit luxurious – all that paper and ink – but I retain things, and process them, by writing. So for me, writing is an intrinsic part of learning and enjoying what I read.

Not every book I read gets into the notebook, but so far it has things from:

  • Brave New World
  • The End of Your Life Book Club
  • Nudge
  • Finny
  • … and His Lovely Wife
  • Affliction
  • No Exit
  • Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer
  • The Flies (amazing play)
  • Dirty Hands
  • The Rose and the Beast (an utterly depressing book)
  • The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman
  • Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity

Here are some of my favorite of the favorites so far. This doesn’t reflect which books/plays were my favorite, though at times it does sum up why I liked a particular book:

“They’re about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now.”

“But God doesn’t change.”

“Men do, though.”

“What difference does that make?”

“All the difference in the world.”

– Brave New World

“…Books are the most powerful tool in the human arsenal, that reading all kinds of books … is how you take part in the human conversation.” – quoted in The End of Your Life Book Club

“… Having the people you love tell you they love you and mean it … it never goes out of style. Since we’re made in God’s image, this must be from Him, so even God must need an ‘atta-boy,’ an out-loud, in-your-head, ‘Thank you, great job on that sunset, and the platypus was a brilliant fun idea.’ Maybe that’s why we’re supposed to pray the way we do, because without it God would be lonely.” – Affliction

“One always dies too soon – or too late. And yet one’s whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, reading for the summing up. You are – your life, and nothing else.” – No Exit

“The junk piles became so bad that at one point there were billboard ads urging people to DUMP BOYFRIENDS, NOT APPLIANCES. It was a strange campaign – stranger when half the lights on the billboard went out, leaving only the illuminated command DUMP BOYFRIENDS.” – Farm City

“I suddenly saw my neighborhood for what it was: an artifact, an abused landscape. But it could morph again.” – Farm City

“They knew that the passing is a reflection of the lasting, that tables in our humble homes may become sacred altars, that a single deed of an individual man may decide the fate of all mankind.” – “No Time for Neutrality” in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity

“… she felt his strong heart beating like the sound of all the stories she could ever hope to tell.” – “Glass” in The Rose and the Beast

“And I will not make a poem nor the least part of a poem but
has reference to the soul,
Because having look’d at the objects of the universe, I find
there is no one nor any particle of one but has reference
to the soul. – “Starting from Paumanok” by Walt Whitman


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