Sunday, December 30, 2007


This year, I haven't read nearly as many children's and YA books as usual, on account of the Jane Project.

You can read a list of all the Jane-related books I've read at my main blog.

While I may not have read tons of them this year, the books that I have read have been outstanding. Here are some of my favorite quotes this year, but "Great mother of Mozart,"* where to start?

*"Great mother of Mozart" is from Linda Urban's wonderful debut, A Crooked Kind of Perfect, which is as good a place to start as any. Here's a bit of a phone conversation between the main character, Zoe Elias, and her friend Wheeler:

I tell him about Mona and how when she plays you feel like your whole body is filled up with music——like singing.
And he says, "You play like that."
"What?" I say.
"You play like that. At school, when you played 'Green Acres.' And when you think nobody is paying attention. You play like that."
"I do?"
"That's why me and your dad are always singing in the kitchen."
They sing in the kitchen?
"You can't hear us because you're singing, too," he says.
"You can hear me singing?"
"Of course we can hear you, Goober," he says. "Someday we're all going to have to learn the words."
I laugh again.
Wheeler laughs, too.
And Wheeler's laugh sounds like singing.

From "Falling in Love with America", in Your Own, Sylvia: a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill

She is grand. She is
literature. She is beauty.
She masks a vast brain

under her blondness,
but when she reads her poems,
her great sheaf of verse,

I see genius.

From Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, which still makes me cry on repeat readings:

"How many screw-ups do you get before you're out?"
He stroked his mustache. The walk-in hummed behind us. "Good question. I'm . . . let's see . . . forty-six. I guarantee you that I've screwed up more than you have, and I'm still in the game."

From Austenland by Shannon Hale, discussing the main character's obsession with the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice:

. . .it wasn't until the BBC put a face on the story that those gentlement in tight breeches had steeped out of her reader's imagination and into her nonfiction hopes. Stripped of Austen's funny, insightful, biting narrator, the movie became a pure romance. And Pride and Prejudice was the most stunning, bite-your-hand romance ever, the kind that stared straight into Jane's soul and made her shudder.

From Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson:
"Never underestimate dainty little ladies."

Two from the almost-end of Tips on Having a Gay (ex)Boyfriend by Carrie Jones:
"You would have hurt me more if you kept pretending to be who I wanted you to be."
"I don't need you to be there for me, Dylan," I say. "I just need you to be there for you."

From An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, a bit about story that makes me cry every damn time I read it:

And he found himself thinking that maybe stories don't just make us matter to each other— maybe they're also the only way to the infinite mattering he'd been after for so long.
  And Colin thought: Because like say I tell someone about my feral hog hunt. Even if it's a dumb story, telling it changes other people just the slightest little bit, just as living the story changes me. An infinitesimal change. And that infinitesimal change ripples outward——ever smaller but everlasting. I will get forgotten, but the stories will last. And so we all matter——maybe less than a lot, but always more than none.

And from Looking for Alaska, also by John Green:

"He was gone, and I did not have time to tell hiom what I had just now realized: that I forgave him, and that she forgave us, and that we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth."
And that, my friends, is why I adore John Green's writing.

From Possession by A.S. Byatt:

"Independent women must expect more of themselves, since neither men nor other more conventionally domesticated women will hope for anything, or expect any result other than utter failure."

From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling:

That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemnort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.

More books, of course

In addition to the ones I've quoted from here, I've read extensively from A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, On Poetry and Poets by T.S. Eliot, A Family of Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy, The Best Poems of the English Language: From Chaucer Through Frost, ed. by Harold Bloom; The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson; at least 5 books of poetry by Billy Collins, two by Anne Compton and one by Ted Kooser; The Selected Poems of Czeslaw Milosz; The Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice, The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within by Stephen Fry, and more.

So today, I'll leave you with the last bit of "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, which inspired the title of Fry's novel:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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