Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer Reading

Summer is coming to an end/is over, depending on how you decide when fall begins (for some, it's the moment the bell rings on the first day of school, for others, the day after Labor Day, for the sun it's the Equinox . . .).

In any event, I've been doing a lot of reading this summer. I have almost permanently had a book at my side as an extra appendage. In fact, it got to a point that my family members knew my summer better than I did--or at least were willing to answer the "what did you do this summer" question for me. One time a kind person asked that oh-so-harmless small talk question.

Kind Person (to me): What have you been doing this summer?

Me: Uhhhhhhhh.

My sister Sarah: She's been doing a lot of reading.

Kind Person: Oh.

And the conversation usually ends there. I think they're expecting me to say some extraordinary thing like, "Oh, I hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro," or "Oh, I rafted down the Amazon." (Honestly, people, I'm quite boring. Sorry to disappoint.)

But the thing is, I've been quite happy with my reading list this summer and crossing off some works I've been meaning to read and then re-reading some of my favorites.

And since I have this insatiable need to share people what I learned, here are some of my favorite quotes from my summer reading. (I could do a blog post about each book I read this summer, but I read about fifty, and that might get tiresome . . . also, a lot of the books I read were historiographies for Oxford preparations, and I read a couple of books on economics to prove a point, but I digress.)

[My Book o' Quotes.] 

"There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made." --My Antonia, by Willa Cather 

"Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." --My Antonia

"Sunflower-bordered roads always seem to me the roads to freedom." --My Antonia

"Do you know, Antonia, since I've been away, I think of you more often than of anyone else in this part of the world. I'd have liked to have you for a sweetheart, or a wife, or my mother or my sister--anything that a woman can be to a man. The idea of you is a part of my mind; you influence my likes and dislikes, all my tastes, hundreds of times when I don't realize it. You really are a part of me." --My Antonia 

"Dostoevsky said once, 'There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.' These words frequently came to my mind after I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering and death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom [the freedom to choose one's attitude] cannot be lost. It can be said they were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom--which cannot be taken away--that makes life meaningful and purposeful." --Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl

"We had to learn ourselves [. . .] that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. [. . .] Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual." --Man's Search for Meaning

"Reason, devoid of the purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations." --Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

"I have always felt that ultimately along the way of life an individual must stand up and be counted and be willing to face the consequences whatever they are. And if he is filled with fear he cannot do it. My great prayer is always for God to save me from the paralysis of crippling fear, because I think when a person lives with the fears of the consequences for his personal life he can never do anything in terms of lifting the whole of humanity and solving many of the social problems which we confront in every age and every generation." --Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

"Katie heard the story. 'It's come at last,' she thought, 'the time when you can no longer stand between your children and heartache. When there wasn't enough food in the house you pretended that you weren't hungry so they could have more. In the cold of a winter's night you got up and put your blanket on their bed so they wouldn't be cold. You'd kill anyone who tried to harm them--I tried my best to kill that man in the hallway. Then one sunny day, they walk out in all innocence and they walk right into the grief that you'd give your life to spare them.'" --A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

"So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?" --All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

"She would not say of any one in the world now that they were this or were that. She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day." --Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

"What does the brain matter compared to the heart?" --Mrs. Dalloway 

"Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, how vivid, and cruel. One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own [. . .] was there anything so real as words?" --A Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

"Cynicism is nothing more than idealism gone sour." --That Ye May Believe, Neal A. Maxwell

"Even in the midst of deep and discouraging blackness we are to trust in the Lord in order to show that we are a 'friend of God' by being 'righteous in the dark.'" --That Ye May Believe 

"It takes intelligence and faith in order to make one's way through [the ambiguities of life]." --That Ye May Believe 

"Power comes from love. Achievement and ability come from love. We can try to do it on our own, or we can really achieve with the Savior--by accepting His love and being willing to love others in return." --Disciples, Cheiko Okazaki

"When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve." --A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway

"If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially." --A Farewell to Arms 

"But the thing about remembering is that you don't forget. You take your material where you find it, which is in your life, at the intersection of past and present. The memory-traffic feeds into a rotary up on your head, where it goes in circles for awhile, then pretty soon imagination flows in and the traffic merges and shoots off down a thousand different streets. As a writer, all you can do is pick a street and go for the ride, putting things down as they come at you. That's the real obsession. All those stories." --The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien

"Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a lifetime ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That's what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story." --The Things They Carried 

"The human life is all one thing, like a blade tracing loops on ice: a little kid, a twenty-three-year-old infantry sergeant, a middle-aged writing knowing guilt and sorrow. And as a writer now, I want to save Linda's life. Not her body--her life." --The Things They Carried 

"Nabokov says that every great novel is a fairy tale. [. . .] But the magic comes from the power of good, that force which tells us we need to give in to the limitations and restrictions imposed on us by Fate." --Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi

"Every great work of art, I would declare pompously, is a celebration, an act of insubordination against the betrayals, horrors, and infidelities of life." --Reading Lolita in Tehran 

"Learn to fight for your happiness." --Reading Lolita in Tehran 

"To have a whole life, one must have the possibility of publicly shaping and expressing private worlds, dreams, thoughts and desires, of constantly having access to a dialogue between the public and private worlds. How else do we know that we have existed, felt, desired, hated, feared? [. . .] We speak of facts, yet facts exist only partially to us if they are not repeated and re-created through emotions, thoughts, and feelings." --Reading Lolita in Tehran 

-If you were wondering, my top three books this summer were My Antonia, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Reading Lolita in Tehran. I also loved anything I read by Neal A. Maxwell.-


  1. out of the best books. you amaze me, megan beth.

  2. out of the best books. you amaze me, megan beth.