Top Ten Favourite Book Quotes

(No Quote for the Day, because that would be a bit superfluous, methinks.)

  1. The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien: “Above all shadows rides the Sun/And Stars forever dwell;/I will not say the Day is done,/Nor bid the Stars farewell.” Above all shadows, you see. Even this one, whatever this one happens to be. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said this to myself, and it’s made the world just a little bit better, for a little while.
  2. Coraline, Neil Gaiman: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be defeated.” And this is why fantasy is important.
  3. Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett: “This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay.” This is just a badass quote. Works well in real life, too.
  4. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien: “In the twilight of autumn it sailed out of Mithlond, until the seas of the Bent World fell away beneath it, and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne upon the high airs above the mists of the world it passed into the Ancient West, and an end was come for the Eldar of story and of song.” For me, this sentence distils the entire essence of everything that I love about Tolkien into one heartbreakingly beautiful, quietly melancholy line.
  5. Song of Susannah, Stephen King: “In the Land of Memory the time is always Now. In the Kingdom of Ago, the clocks tick…but their hands never move. There is an Unfound Door (O lost) and memory is the key which opens it.” This is pure Dark Tower fare: mysterious, enigmatic, hauntingly strange and far-off, and yet you feel that there’s some essential truth buried deep within, somehow.
  6. The Tempest, William Shakespeare: “Be not afear’d:/The isle is full of noises.” Shakespeare conjures up in nine words what might take a lesser novelist a whole book to evoke: a magical, spooky, mysterious place, bewitching, enchanting, ever receding from the searching eye…
  7. The Waste Lands, Stephen King: “I do not shoot with my gun. She who shoots with her gun has forgotten the face of her father. I shoot with my mind.” Is there a better exam motto? No, there is not.
  8. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett: “You need to believe things that aren’t true. How else can they become?” Possibly not the most elegant phrasing in the world, but the general point is a good one.
  9. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake: “If he had ever had any scruples, any love at all for even a monkey, a book or a sword-hilt, all this, and even this, had been cauterized and drowned away.” This is a really chilling moment in Peake’s masterpiece, and it’s an appropriately memorable sentence which sticks out even in his generally beautiful, if dense, prose. And I couldn’t leave Steerpike out of this list, could I?
  10. The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot: “I will show you something different from either/Your shadow at morning striding behind you/Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;/I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” Another chillingly resonant moment in a poem which always strikes me as incredibly fantastical.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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