Books 1

Have you ever read a sentence so beautifully written that you wanted to keep it for reference, to enjoy it again and again? Here are some sentences that overwhelmed me with their images (or made me smile):

. . . reams of helpful hints unscroll out of your mouth like a runaway roll of toilet paper falling down the stairs. ~Margaret Atwood in Burning Questions, describing the compulsion of elders to give advise to youngers.

. . . while it’s true that only light can drive out darkness, there are some forms of light that only darkness can reveal. ~Leigh Ann Henion, “Lighting Up the Night,” about synchronous fireflies, The Washington Post, September 7, 2021.

The ghost rolls in somewhere near the edge of Nebraska Sandhills. By the time I hit Ainsworth, the grassy dunes are cloaked in a gossamer shawl, and the cattle, the cottonwoods, the cattails–they’re all blurry silhouettes. The sky is white, but the sun is missing, and when my throat starts to itch, I realize it’s not some strange prelude to a summer storm but smoke drifting more than 700 miles south from wildfires in Canada–a strange prelude of its own. ~Carson Vaughn, “The 100th Meridian is on the Loose,” in Sierra magazine, Winter 2021.

In this November going bald, the yard’s askew/ With leaves, red and yellow,/ Like a bad comb-over and dye job. ~Elton Glaser, “Collateral Damages.”

. . . The hens/ watch and cluck,/ softly chuckle/ at an inside joke. ~Richard Dinges, Jr., “Gathering.”

Here is a herd of fat clouds grazing/ The rich blue grass of infinity. ~Ken Burris, “Al Fresco.”

Night drifts down the mountain like a memory of bad dreams. ~Franz Lidz, “Rising Again,” Smithsonian, June 2021.

The morning air is all awash with angels. ~Richard Wilbur, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World.”

Low-rent balconies stacked to the sky. ~Rita Dove, “Teach Us to Number Our Days.” 

My memory of it [her mother’s handbag] is primarily kinesthetic: I remember the bodily sensation of popping it open and shut, though I never opened the bag without my mother’s permission. It opened with a brass clasp that made a satisfying snap, to reveal a gaping interior like the mouth of a frog. ~Rose Stroud, “The Frozen Shoulder,” New Ohio Review, Spring 2021.

. . . now goldenrod had kindled its fairy torches in the corners and asters dotted it bluely. The call of the brook came up through the woods from the valley of birches with all its old allurement; the mellow air was full of the purr of the sea; beyond were fields rimmed by fences bleached silvery gray in the suns of many summers, and long hills scarfed with the shadows of autumnal clouds; with the blowing of the west wind old dreams returned. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of the Island.

As fall succumbs to the bleak severity of winter, trees explode in radiant color, as if to foretell the coming spring. Leaves and seeds crash to the ground, and naked branches shiver in the windblown snow like a stripped criminal beneath the lash. ~Brian Hiortdahl, in “The beginning of good news” in the December 2020 issue of Living Lutheran.

Every breath we take, every heartbeat, every evolution of every cell comes from God and is sustained by God every second, just as every creation, invention, every bar of music or line of verse, every thought, vision, fantasy, every dumb-ass flop and stroke of genius comes from that infinite intelligence that created us and the universe in all its dimensions, out of the Void, the field of infinite potential, primal chaos, the Muse. To acknowledge that reality, to efface all ego, to let the work come through us and give it back freely to its source, that in my opinion, is as true to reality as it gets. ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.

I want to go on living even after my death! And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me. I can shake off everything if I write, my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. But, and that is the great question, will I ever be able to write anything great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, for I can recapture everything when I write, my thoughts, my ideals, and my fantasies. ~ Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl.

Their searchlights dueled across the floor. ~ Ransom Riggs, Library of Souls.

When God painted the world, Maine would be the area where he dabbed his brush to rid the excess paint. Layers of greens, swimming with yellows, sleeping on reds, hiding from oranges. ~Thomas Prescott, Unforeseen.

The night birds sang their version of Marco Polo and the breeze whispered in the dried grasses. ~ Laura Drake, Days Made of Glass.

The sun hovered near the horizon in a final kiss before sinking ever lower. ~ Karen Michelle Nut, End of the Road.

Yesterday as I was flying back to Nashville from Tulsa, the weather forecaster in Oklahoma warned us that there would be terrible storms across the Southeast, so I was concerned about my flight. But the pilot pierced the clouds and got us above them. As I looked down on those magnificent, billowing, brilliant clouds, I thought to myself that storms are beautiful from the upper side. ~ Robert J Morgan, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know By Heart.

Time can only work age into skin. Within, near the soul, time’s impotent and we’re forever young. I feel about eight. ~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces.

Vision without execution is hallucination. ~ Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci.

The light of day revealed fall’s early brilliance, chartreuse, gold, and orange leaves eclipsing the dark green of summer. The scarlet of the maple trees appeared in just a few brilliant spots; in a month’s time, the red would spread like a fever, dominating the landscape. ~ Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures.

Osteosarcoma sometimes takes a limb to check you out. Then, if it likes you, it takes the rest. ~ John Green, The Fault in Our Stars.

The day was sunny, the town lush and green, the ocean churning away like a washing machine on the gentle cycle. ~Sue Grafton in “Between the Sheets,” Kinsey and Me.

Autumn comes quietly to wed the countryside. The maples all down the lane blush and silently disrobe. ~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.

Back east we usually experience the freedom that comes with a good snowstorm. No work, no school, the world shutting its big mouth for a while, the dirty streets covered over in virgin white, like all the missteps you’ve taken have been erased by nature. ~ Bruce Springsteen in his autobiography, Born to Run.

He sauntered in, pulled me out of my chair, and planted a kiss on me that melted my pantyhose. Good Lord, could that man kiss. ~ Diane Burton, The Case of the Meddling Mama

The only thing you might not think of,
being in another place so far away,
is the one bee who just refused to wait
for all the morning glories to unfurl in the morning sun,
and instead, pushed her way into the white flute
of a blossom, disappearing for a moment
before she flew off in her distinctive gold
and black uniform like a player on a team,
heading over the hedge toward a core of honey. ~ Billy Collins, in the poem “Lines Written in a Garden by a Cottage in Herefordshire”

I slam the brakes and an opera of horns finds quick harmony behind us. ~ Brad Meltzer in The Inner Circle

I couldn’t believe that such ancient beauty existed in the desolation of my world. Did men build the Angkor Wat temple or did the gods create it themselves? It was hard to imagine that humans were capable of creating something this beautiful, magnificent and of a magnitude beyond comprehension, because all I had seen and experienced so far were death and destruction—men were the destroyers of youth and innocence and killers of future and dreams. ~ Jennifer H. Lau in Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge


He grinned at me, his face flushed all the way up to his hairline, which had receded almost to the back of his head. There was no comb-over, just a cul-de-sac head of hair. ~ Kelly Wilson, in Caskets from Costco.

It’s teatime and all the dolls are at the table. Listen. ~ Anne Lamott on characterization in Bird by Bird

As she crossed the river, a rumor of sunshine stood behind the clouds. ~ The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak, p. 472.




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