16 incredible quotes from 16 incredible books that got us through 2016

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If there is one thing to celebrate from 2016, a year that has been very objectively and very scientifically determined to be a large, blazing garbage fire, it’s all of the great books that have been published.

With moving fiction, experimental short stories, heartfelt poetry collections and insightful memoirs, 2016 introduced us all to a bevy of great authors and literature.

It’s these authors and words that inspired us, lifted us, commiserated with us, and helped us better understand the world throughout 2016. Which we are thankful for. Because we needed some support to get through this surreal nightmare of a year.

Without further ado, here are some of the best quotes from some of the best books published in 2016.

1. “Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world.”

— J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

Image: Arthur A. Levine Books

2. “You want to know what weakness is? Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.”

— Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing

3. “The young and the old seem to be uniquely positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that life affords. It’s that middle time that’s a bitch.”

— Callan Wink, Dog Run Moon

4. “But personally, I didn’t think Aimee was wrong: I remembered my own classrooms, dance classes, playgrounds, youth groups, birthday parties, hen nights, I remember there was always a girl with a secret, with something furtive and broken in her, and walking through the village with Aimee, entering people’s homes, shaking their hands, accepting their food and drink, being hugged by their children, I often thought I saw her again, the girl who lives everywhere and at all times in history, who is sweeping the yard or pouring out tea or carrying somebody else’s baby on her hip and looking over at you with a secret she can’t tell.”

— Zadie Smith, Swing Time

5. “The universe has no center. No center, no limits. We live in the midst of infinity.”

— Kristopher Jansma, Why We Came To The City

6. “Sometimes a kiss is not a kiss is not a kiss. Sometimes it’s poetry.” 

— Julie Buxbaum, Tell Me Three Things

7. “& remember,/ loneliness is still time spent/ with the world.”

— Ocean Vuong, Night Sky With Exit Wounds

Image: Copper Canyon Press

8. “We are capable of big lives. A big history. Why settle? Why choose the practical thing, the mundane thing? We are born to dream and make the things we dream about.”

— Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also A Star

9. “Oh, girl, we have known littlebit love. That littlebit of honey let in an empty jar that traps the sweetness in your mouth long enough to mask your hunger. We have run our tongues over teeth to savor that last littlebit as long as we could, and in all our living, nothing has starved us more.”

— Brit Bennett, The Mothers

10. “What I do not want, I think with sudden ferocity, is a small life — a life of mundane concerns, of commonplaces and banalities, of children’s sore throats, of grandmother’s apple pies, of fussy nineteenth-century porcelain — a life within four walls.”

— Olga Grushin, Forty Rooms

Image: Marian Wood Books/Putnam

11. “In the process of purification, you risked erasing every minor detail you’d ever cared about. You became all telling with no showing: not the extraordinary extra, but the stock player in a harp-and-halo bit. I came to therapy thinking that my sexuality didn’t matter, but it turned out that every part of personality was intimately connected to it. Cutting one piece damaged the rest.”

— Gerard Conley, Boy Erased

12. “To travel alone, I’d learned, isn’t to rely on yourself. To travel alone is to force yourself to depend on others. It is to fall in love with mankind.”

— Ken Ilgunas, Trespassing Across America

13. “Sometimes I long to go West again, to watch the prairie grass ripple and the wind blow history clean. Like we could take it all back, this whole sordid business of living, and just fall into dust. As I suppose, one day, we will.”

— Amber Sparks, The Unfinished World

14. “Connie stood at the mirror and tried to harmonize with one of the sweet, sorrowful forty-fives we listened to with fanatic repetition. Songs that overheated my own righteous sadness, my imagined alignment with the tragic nature of the world. How I loved to wring myself out that way, stoking my feelings until they were unbearable. I wanted all of life to feel that frantic and pressurized with portent, so even colors and weather and tastes would be more saturated. That’s what the songs promised, what they trawled out of me.”

— Emma Cline, The Girls

15. “The Underground Railroad is bigger than its operators — it’s all of you, too. The small spurs, the big trunk lines. We have the newest locomotives and the obsolete engines, and we have hand cars like that one. It goes everywhere, to places we know and those we don’t. We got this tunnel right here, running beneath us, and no one knows where it leads. If we keep the railroad running, and none of us can figure it out, maybe you can.”

— Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

16. “When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.”

— Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air



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