I mentioned before that I’ve kept a notebook of book quotes since I was 16, and six years after starting that collection, it’s still going strong! From my eleventh grade summer reading assignments to current reads that are more likely to align with my mom’s book choices than ever before, any writing that left me thinking, crying, or laughing is captured in this notebook.
Obviously, this record has a crazy amount of quotes, so I wanted to share 10 of my favorites from the first few pages, which equates to what I read my last two years of high school and freshman year of college. You can totally tell where I was in school when flipping through the quote book (the classics mentioned below? Some of them were assigned reading). I loved picking these out, so I will definitely do another post covering the next chunk of my notebook!
While the majority of these books were first-time reads, quotes from the Anne of Green Gables series pop up throughout my notebook because I’m always rereading them and finding new bits that I love!
“Emma’s mid-twenties had brought a second adolescence even more self-absorbed and doom-laden than the first one.”
One Day, David Nicholls
I’m in a bit of a slow, transitory phase of my life now, and it’s hard not to get frustrated with the pace of things when everyone around me seems to already be on their next adventure. The quote above resonates with my current mindset. I must have read One Day when I was only a high school junior, so I don’t know why this quote about a proper grown-up appealed to me. It’s part of why I write down quotes I like – they’re words of encouragement or wisdom for the future.
“Such was life that morning: nothing really mattered that much, not the good things and not the bad ones. We were in the business of mutual amusement, and we were reasonably prosperous.”
Paper Towns, John Green
Looking back at this quote now, it reminds me of high school mornings with my friends at the same cafeteria table we sat at basically every day. I’m sure I must have thought of the same thing back then reading this book. We probably weren’t as witty as John Green’s characters, but this time in the mornings was rarely dramatic (sans one or two times – we were teenagers, after all) and rather was unfiltered in an innocent way. My favorite high school memories are often of just sitting with these people on a regular, mundane school day.
“In the deep, tacit way in which feeling becomes stronger than thought, I had always felt that the Devon School came into existence the day I entered it, it was vibrantly real while I was a student there, and then blinked out like a candle the day I left.”
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
This kind of nostalgia hasn’t sunk in yet in regards to college, but I strongly feel this way about high school and even elementary school. At this point, I’m old enough that no one currently at my high school or ten-year elementary school was there when I was a student. My favorite high school teacher has retired and practically all of my elementary school teachers aren’t at the now unrecognizable school anymore. It’s weird to think that your version of the way things were doesn’t exist anymore, and as seen in this quote, it’s easy to believe that a place from your past loses a spark once you’ve grown out of it.
“But somehow I feel as if I didn’t want Avonlea spoiled by what Mr. Harrison…calls ‘modern conveniences.’ I should like to have it kept always just as it was in the dear old years. That’s foolish – and sentimental – and impossible…”
Anne’s House of Dreams, L.M. Montgomery
After the Wizarding World, Avonlea is the fictional place I’d most want to visit. This series was so influential on my own writing style, so it’s not just the characters and situations I think of on nostalgic days. I love the old-fashioned, warm writing, and it seriously feels like a big hug. We see far less of Avonlea starting in this book, when Anne gets married and moves away, but the reader has the benefit of going back to the earlier books and staying in Avonlea.
“‘Yes, I thought you would like it,” replied his host, rising from his chair.
‘I didn’t say I liked it, Henry. I said it fascinated me. There is a great difference.’
‘Ah, you have discovered that?’ murmured Lord Henry.”
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
16-year-old me definitely went a little trigger-happy with quote writing when I read this for school. Apart from reading Pride and Prejudice the year before, The Picture of Dorian Gray was probably the first classic I encountered with such relevant writing. The book has so many examples of concepts you were familiar with but never knew how to explain until you saw it in writing, and this excerpt was one of them.
“‘Of course I’m missing something. But I’ve never seen the Taj Mahal either. I never played the violin. I never wrote a novel or learned to fly or met a president. When people infer I’m incomplete somehow because I haven’t given birth, I think, ‘We’re all incomplete in some way.’ I don’t know anyone who has done everything she wanted to do in life.'”
Incredibly Alice, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
This is said by Alice’s stepmother Sylvia, a character I love. The quote is a great reminder that there’s no shame in failing to achieve all of those checklist items everyone’s “supposed” to do.
“She felt very old and mature and wise – which showed how young she was. She told herself that she longed greatly to go back to those dear merry days when life was seen through a rosy mist of hope and illusion and possessed an indefinable something that had passed away forever. Where was it now – the glory and the dream?”
Anne of the Island, L.M. Montgomery
Dear God, this book. It’s the only one I make an effort to re-read every year. It’s my favorite romance, my favorite coming-of-age story, my favorite college story. There’s something about it that makes Anne fans collectively sigh in adoration and, more often than not, single it out as their favorite book in the series. Right now, I just happen to be drawn to quotes describing earlier days, like this one, but I love all of the sections about Anne and Gilbert (my first true love, of course) in this book.
“I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why, or being able to explain them.”
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
If you can’t already tell that I’m a lost and desperate graduate, here’s more proof.
“I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept back by natural awkwardness.”
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
This quote is basically my life. I’m awkward and shy, guys. Am I better than I was a couple years ago? Totally. But I’m always going to shy away in a big group of people that I may not know well. In that case, it’s literally me, not you.
“That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”
Yes Please, Amy Poehler
I totally adopted this motto right after reading Amy Poehler’s book. Repeating it to yourself in a situation really does help, too!
What about you? What are some of your favorite quotes from books?