some of what i've read (some of which i've loved)

Not comprehensive, but a start. I included particularly magical arrangements of words. The listed quotes delighted me, or broke my heart, or simply made me feel like slightly less of a weirdo. I am always looking for recs.

For the best of the best, type an exclamation point (!) into the search bar.


  • Capital / Lanchester

  • Consider the Lobster / DFW

  • City of Thieves / Benioff

  • “She leaned forward and kissed me on the lips. Her mouth was cold, her lips rough from the winter wind, and if the mystics are right and we are doomed to repeat our squalid lives ad infinitum, at least I will always return to that kiss.”

    "I never understood people who said their greatest fear was public speaking, or spiders, or any of the other minor terrors. How could you fear anything more than death?"

  • Letter on Purpose and Meaning / Thompson

    "In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual."

  • Timequake / Vonnegut

    “Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.”

  • Ulysses / Joyce

    "Yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."

  • Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results / Kleiman

  • College Essay / The New Yorker

  • Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago / Jones & Newman

  • The Sirens of Titan / Vonnegut

  • Calvin & Hobbes / Watterson !

  • Mutts / McDonnell

  • Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea / Seife

  • Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation / Hallinan

  • Speak, Memory / Nabokov

  • My Year of Meats / Ozeki

    "She put down her pen and read it again, checking for mistakes. The problem that remained was one of courage."

  • A Hundred Years of Solitude / Marquez

  • The Fifth Floor / Harvey

  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves / Truss

  • The Sun Also Rises / Hemingway

  • Front Row: Anna Wintour / Oppenheimer

  • All Quiet on the Western Front / Remarque

  • Infinite City / Solnit

  • Adventures in the Screen Trade / Goldman

    "Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound."

  • Elliot Allagash / Rich

  • On Looking / Horowitz

    “The result of these walks on my head is tangible: they refined what I can see.”

    “Part of seeing what is on an ordinary block is seeing that everything visible has a history. It arrived at the spot where you found it at some time, was crafted or whittled or forged at some time, filled a certain role or existed for a particular function. "

  • The Idea Factory / Gertner

  • Mountains Beyond Mountains / Kidder

  • The Corrections / Franzen

    “And when the event, the big change in your life, is simply an insight-- isn't that a strange thing? That absolutely nothing changes except that you see things differently and you're less fearful and less anxious and generally stronger as a result: isn't it amazing that a completely invisible thing in your head can feel realer than anything you've experienced before?”

  • A Mathematician's Lament / Lockhart !

    "There is surely no more reliable way to kill enthusiasm and interest in a subject than to make it a mandatory part of the school curriculum."

    "In place of discovery and exploration, we have rules and regulations. We never hear a student saying, 'I wanted to see if it could make any sense to raise a number to a negative power, and I found that you get a really neat pattern if you choose it to mean the reciprocal.'"

    "There is such breathtaking depth and heartbreaking beauty in this ancient art form. How ironic that people dismiss mathematics as the antithesis of creativity."

  • City of Quartz / Davis

  • The Last Tower / Austin

  • The Prince / Machiavelli

  • Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School / Broughton

  • In Cold Blood / Capote

  • Walden / Thoreau

  • The Grapes of Wrath / Steinbeck

    "Carbon is not a man, nor salt nor water nor calcium. He is all these, but he is much more, much more; and the land is so much more than its analysis."

    "He built a house of corrugated paper. And when the rains came the house melted and washed away."

  • I Remember / Brainard

  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information / Tufte

  • Catch 22 / Heller !


    "The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likeable. In three days no one could stand him."

    “He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.”

    “He knew everything there was to know about literature, except how to enjoy it.”

    "His specialty was alfalfa, and he made a good thing out of not growing any. The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow. The more alfalfa he did not grow, the more money the government gave him, and he spent every penny he didn’t earn on new land to increase the amount of alfalfa he did not produce. Major Major’s father worked without rest at not growing alfalfa."

    "Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. and Mrs. Daneeka: Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your husband, son, father, or brother was killed, wounded, or reported missing in action."

  • The Alchemist / Coehlo

  • Confessions of an Economic Hit Man / Perkins

  • The Art of Fielding / Harbach

  • Daily Rituals: How Artists Work / Currey

    This book made me feel great about all the weird routines I have!

    “My experience has been that most really serious creative people I know have very, very routine and not particularly glamorous work habits."

    "The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation.”

    “The trick is to make time—not steal it—and produce the fiction. If the stories come, you get them written, you’re on the right track. Eventually everyone learns his or her own best way. The real mystery to crack is you.”

    “It’s not work, it’s my life. It’s what I do. It’s what I like to do.”

  • Life After Life / Atkinson

  • Kafka on the Shore / Murakami

    “If you remember me, then I don't care if everyone else forgets.”

  • A Wild Sheep Chase / Murakami

  • Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World / Murakami

  • Franny & Zooey / JD Salinger

  • Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction / Salinger

    “Give me a story that just makes me unreasonably vigilant. Keep me up till five only because all your stars are out, and for no other reason.”

  • Tortilla Flat / Steinbeck

  • This is Water / DFW

    "The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day."

  • Cannery Row / Steinbeck

  • The Pearl / Steinbeck

  • East of Eden / Steinbeck !

  • Travels With Charley: In Search of America / Steinbeck

    “There are two kinds of people in the world, observers and non-observers."

    “And in my own life I am not willing to trade quality for quantity.”

  • Norwegian Wood / Murakami

    “I want you always to remember me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?”

    “When you fall in love, the natural thing to do is give yourself to it. That’s what I think. It’s just a form of sincerity.”

  • Dance Dance Dance / Murakami

    “People fall in love without reason, without even wanting to. You can't predict it. That's love.”

  • South of the Border, West of the Sun / Murakami

  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle / Murakami

  • A Room of One's Own / Woolf

    “So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.”

  • Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance / Gawande

  • I Want My Hat Back / Klassen

  • Experiencing Architecture / Rasmussen

  • Married to the Job / Phillipson

  • The Light Between Oceans / Stedman

  • Thinking Fast and Slow / Kahneman

  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane / Gaiman

  • Song of Solomon / Morrison

    “You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

  • Cryptonomicon / Stephenson

  • Reason and Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality / Veit

  • Life on a Little Known Planet / Evans

  • Station Eleven / Mandel

  • Fates and Furies / Groff

  • The Book of My Lives / Hemon

  • Euphoria / King

  • Where'd You Go Bernadette / Semple

    "If you don't create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society."

    “I'd say I never considered myself a great architect. I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares.”

  • All the Light We Cannot See / Doerr

    “A line comes back to Marie-Laure from Jules Verne: Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”

  • Milk & Honey / Kaur

  • Everyone Brave is Forgiven / Cleave

    "It delighted her that they laughed so easily. It turned out that the only difference between children and adults was that children were prepared to put twice the energy into the project of not being sad."

  • The Paper Menagerie / Liu

    "It is the possibility of our minds touching that makes writing a worthwhile endeavor at all."

    "A memory is a re-creation, precious because it is both more and less than the original."

    "There are many ways to say I love you in this cold, dark, silent universe, as many as the twinkling stars."