Margaret Atwood’s guide to life…

I love Margaret Atwood, and I love that she isn’t afraid to say what she thinks, even if it might make men mad. Here’s a quote from Lesson #1 of A Margaret Atwood Guide to Life | Bustle, trying to answer the question why men feel threatened by women:

“I mean,” I said, “men are bigger, most of the time, they can run faster, strangle better, and they have on the average a lot more money and power.” “They’re afraid women will laugh at them,” he said. “Undercut their world view.” Then I asked some women students in a quickie poetry seminar I was giving, “Why do women feel threatened by men?” “They’re afraid of being killed,” they said.

Writers should not be seen or heard…

If you’ve been following this year’s Tournament of Books, you may have noticed a mild controversy flare up there. Not only did underdog Hill William beat out Booker Prize winner The Luminaries, but its author, Scott McClanahan, apparently tried to pull out of the Tournament via Facebook post with a derogatory comment aimed at soccer moms. I’m not sure of the reasoning there, but McClanahan becomes yet another in a long line of writers who would have been better off keeping his mouth shut.

My father, who was a great reader, often said that you shouldn’t try to find out too much about what your favorite authors or musicians are like as people, because while it’s possible to enjoy someone’s art if you know nothing about them, it may be impossible to enjoy it once you do know something about them. Reminds me of a quote I read recently by Daphne Du Maurier:

“Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard.”

Some quotes about books from books…

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” – A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin

“Sleep is good,” he said. “And books are better.” – A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies …. The man who never reads lives only one.” – A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin

“It’s all that reading that does it, Dietrich. It takes a man out of the world and pushes him inside his own head, and there is nothing there but spooks.” – Eifelheim, Michael Flynn

“My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.” – The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield

Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives. – American Gods, Neil Gaiman

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” – The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

“Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.” – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

“The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.” – 1984, George Orwell

And this I believe…

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. – East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Artwork found here: Hell Yes, John Steinbeck.

Follow your dreams…

Follow your dreams, Bailey, she says. Be they Harvard or something else entirely. No matter what that father of yours says, or how loudly he might say it. He forgets that he was someone’s dream once himself… –The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

Source of art: deviantART: More Like The Night Circus Tribute by ~kemurai6.

Famous Last Words

A question on Quora asked: What are the most famous final passages from books or stories? Here are my votes for the top five. Feel free to add your favorite last lines in the comments.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“and yes I said yes I will Yes.” – Ulysses, James Joyce

“He loved Big Brother.” – Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

“‘It is a far, far, better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far, better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.’”– A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

“‘After all, tomorrow is another day.’” – Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

And five other good ones I missed:

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” – Animal Farm, George Orwell

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?” – The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

“I been there before.” – Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

“But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.” – Emma, Jane Austen

 “I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.”  – Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (not a book I personally liked, but this is a great line)

I looked through my favorite books on LibraryThing and added a few more last lines that have significant meaning for me.

“Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” – Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

“Within, its walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” – The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

“I am legend.” – I Am Legend, Richard Matheson

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” – The Dark Tower, Stephen King

“He says that he will never die.” – Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy

“And then I woke up.” – No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy

“So this is what everybody’s always talking about! Diablo! If only I’d known. The beauty! The beauty!” – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

“And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.” – The Shipping News, Annie Proulx

“He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.” – To Kill a Mockingbird

What’s Reading For?

I agree with Jo Walton in response to the question What’s Reading For? at Tor.com: reading is for fun. Reading is for getting lost in a world not one’s own. As far as I know, there is no other way to get absolutely inside another person’s head, and that’s enlightening, educational, inspirational — but mostly fun. Don’t read what you feel like you ought to read; read what you want to read. 

Another thing that Walton says in this little essay that I find downright inspirational:

I do believe there are things everyone ought to do: big things like defending civilization, building the future, making art, and mending the world.

I want to do those things, too! Mostly because they also sound like fun.