A good book is a successful recipe composed of many ingredients; likable characters, a gripping story line, beautiful prose, but often what really makes a book stand out for me are its quotes. Some can be as short as just a few words, some can be paragraphs long but those few simple words can be funny, touching or wise and can remain with us for a lifetime. A good quote has the ability to guide and inspire, convey our emotions or pick us up when we are feeling down. A good quote will transcend distance and time, will unite people whatever their wealth, nationality or social class and will become our words when we are not able to find our own.
My favourite quotes will have me going back to a book time and time again, just to look at them and remember what they have taught me. Below are some of my favourite quotes, please feel free to share yours in the comments section so they can inspire others.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view….until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird)
There are so many wonderful quotes in this novel by Harper Lee that I hardly know where to start, I have selected this one as an example as it is a lesson of which I try and remind myself and adhere to. Lawyer, Attius Finch departs this piece of wisdom to his six year old daughter Scout. Atticus is explaining to his daughter how we should never judge people from the outside looking in, how we don’t know how another person feels and cannot understand their actions until we have looked at everything from their point of view and reminds us to live with sympathy and understanding for others. This quote exemplifies the beautiful relationship between Scout and her father, Scout learns more from her father than she does from any other character in this book and so did I, he is able to explain complex matters in a way that a child will understand. Atticus Finch is one of my favourite literary characters, he is a moral guide to whom we should all aspire to learn from. Atticus is a character of great integrity who is not afraid of speaking honestly to his children and most importantly, he practices what he preaches. This is a beautiful passage, one that I have reminded myself of many times in my dealings with all kinds of people on a personal and a professional level.
“One time, when I was very little, I climbed a tree and ate these green, sour apples. My stomach swelled and became hard like a drum, it hurt a lot. Mother said that if I’d just waited for the apples to ripen, I wouldn’t have become sick. So now, whenever I really want something, I try to remember what she said about the apples.” (Khalid Hosseini, The Kite Runner)
Amir is explaining to Sohrab that their move to America may take some time and that it is like “sour apples”. Patience is a virtue, if we wait, good things will come. I have always believed that we should never rush into things in life and that the longer we wait for something, the sweeter it is when we get it.
“Eyes are blind, you have to look with the heart” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince)
The Little Prince was one of the first books I owned, it was a beautiful hardback edition of which I was very proud, I still have it and very much look forward to introducing it to my son. Like all good parables, this book can be enjoyed on many different levels. Young children will love it as essentially it is a silly, entertaining story but as the reader matures the story becomes much deeper – it is about finding something, losing it and letting go. It reminds us to never lose sight of what is really important in life. This particular quote reminds me of a lesson of which I already know but often forget, that which is essential is invisible to the eye. The things that make a person special cannot be seen merely by the eyes, when you love something or someone that person may appear ordinary to the rest of the world but you know in your heart what it is that makes them special to you.
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” (Roald Dahl, The Twits)
This quote is quite possibly my absolute favourite of all time. Roald Dahl has such a special and unique way of engaging with his readers, young and old alike. This book is hilariously entertaining. The Twits are horrible, dirty, nasty characters who enjoy torturing animals and children until eventually the animals strike back and exact their revenge. Mr and Mrs Twit are ugly because of their thoughts, explains the narrator, and they become more and more hideous by the day because of their bad thoughts and behaviour. About the importance of inner beauty, this particular quote is self-explanatory and is an important life lesson. Be happy and kind and think only good thoughts and that happiness will show on your face.