words i have read

i have a goal to read 25 books in 2011. so far i have read 3 so i am certainly a bit behind. i've been asking almost everyone for book suggestions. so, dear reader, if you have a favourite book that you think i absolutely can't miss, please let me know! there's nothing quite like being carried away by words; not being able to put the pages down, gripped in another world that makes you think about the one you're in.

here are some passages from my most recent reads, both of which i loved and recommend highly. i wanted to write these words down somewhere because i forget so easily the good experiences i have had with books.

"all those afternoons were the same, but we never got used to them. as far as we could see, the miles of copper-red grass were drenched in sunlight that was stronger and fiercer than at any other time of the day. the blond cornfields were red gold, the haystacks turned rosy and threw long shadows. the whole prairie was like the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed. that hour always had the exultation of victory, of triumphant ending, like a hero's death -- heroes who died young and gloriously. it was a sudden transfiguration, a lifting-up for day. how many an afternoon antonia and i have trailed long the prairie under than magnificence! and always two long back shadows flitted before us or followed after, dark spots on the ruddy grass."

"we sat looking off across the country, watching the sun go down. the curly grass was on fire now. the bark of the oaks turned red as copper. there was a shimmer of gold on the brown river. out in the stream the sandbars glittered like glass, and the light trembled in the willow thickets as if little flames were leaping among them. the breeze sank to stillness. the girls sat listless, leaning against each other. the long fingers of the sun touched their foreheads."

"every inch of her was charged with an energy that made itself felt the moment she entered a room. she was quick to anger, quick to laughter, and jolly from the depths of her soul."

"deep down in each of them there was a kind of hearty joviality, a relish of life, not over-delicate, but very invigorating."

"antonia had the most trusting, responsive eyes in the world; love and credulousness seemed to look out from them with open faces."

"she was a battered woman now, not a lovely girl; but she still had that something which fires the imagination, could still stop one's breath for a moment by a look or gesture that somehow revealed the meaning in common things. all the strong things of her heart came out in her body, that had been so tireless in serving generous emotions. it was no wonder that her sons stood tall and straight. she was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early races."

"ain't it wonderful, jim, how much people can mean to each other?"

"this was a fine life, certainly, but it wasn't the kind of life he had wanted to live. i wondered whether the life that was right for one was ever right for two?"

"before i could sit down in the chair she offered me, the miracle happened; one of those quiet moments that clutch the heart, and take more courage than the noisy, excited passages in life."

"the feelings of that night were so near that i could reach out and touch them with my hand. i had the sense of coming home to myself, and of having found out what a little circle man's experience is...whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past."

"i hope that one day you will have the experience of doing something you do not understand for someone you love."

"humans are the only animal that blushes, laughs, has religion, wages war, and kisses with lips. so in a way, the more you kiss with lips, the more human you are."

[at the airport] "i like to see people reunited, maybe that's a silly thing, but what can i say, i like to see people run to each other, i like the kissing and the crying, i like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can't tell fast enough, the ears that aren't big enough, the eyes that can't take in all the change, i like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone..."

"sometimes i can hear my bones straining under the weight of all of the lives i'm not living."

"she said, 'there's nothing wrong with not understanding yourself,' she saw through the shell of me into the center of me."

"what if the water that came out of the shower was treated with a chemical that responded to a combination of things, like your heartbeat, and your body temperature, and your brain waves, so that your skin changed according to your mood? if you were extremely excited your skin would turn green, and if you were angry you'd turn red, obviously, and if you felt like shittake you'd turn brown, and if you were blue you'd turn blue. everyone could know what everyone else felt, and we could be more careful with each other, because you'd never want to tell a person whose sin was purple that you're angry at her for being late, just like you would want to pat a pink person on the back and tell them congratulations! another reason it would be a good inventions is that there are so many times when you know you're feeling a lot of something, but you don't know what the something is. am i frustrated? am i actually just panicky? and that confusion changes your mood, it becomes your mood, and you become a confused, gray person. but with the special water, you could look at your orange hands and think, i'm happy! that whole time i was actually happy! what a relief!"

"it's hard to say goodbye to a place you've lived. it can be as hard as saying goodbye to a person."

"you cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness."

"i regret that it takes a life to learn how to live, oskar. because if i were to live my life again, i would do things differently. i would change my life. i would kiss my piano teacher, even if he laughed at me. i would jump with mary on the bed, even if i made a fool of myself. i would send out ugly photographs, thousands of them."
"i think about all of the things i've done, oskar. and all of the things i didn't do. the mistakes i've made are dead to me. but i can't take back the things i never did."

"the children of new york lay on their backs, body to body, filling every inch of the park, as if it had been designed for them and that moment. the fireworks sprinkled down, dissolving in the air just before they reached the ground, and the children were pulled, one millimeter and one second at a time, into manhattan and adulthood. by the time the park found its current resting place, every single one of the children had fallen asleep, and the park was a mosaic of their dreams. some hollered out, some smiled unconsciously, some were perfectly still."

"feeling pain is still better than not feeling, isn't it?"

"we got at the end of the line for the elevator. i looked at everyone and wondered where they came from, and who they missed, and what they were sorry for."

"'i love this building.' 'what is it about this building?' mr. black asked. she said, 'if i had an answer, it wouldn't really be love, would it?'"

"why didn't i learn to treat everything like it was the last time, my biggest regret is how much i believed in the future."

"i probably fell asleep, but i don't remember. i cried so much that everything blurred into everything else. at some point she was carrying me to my room. then i was in bed. she was looking over me. i don't believe in god, but i believe that things are extremely complicated, and her looking over me was as complicated as anything ever could be. but it was also incredibly simple. in my only life, she was a mom, and i was her son."

"i said, i want to tell you something. she said, you can tell me tomorrow. i had never told her how much i loved her. she was my sister. we slept in the same bed. there was never a right time to say it. it was always unnecessary. the books in my father's shed were sighing. the sheets were rising and falling around me with my sister's breathing. i thought about waking her. but it was unnecessary. there would be other nights. and how can you say i love you to someone you love? i rolled onto my side and fell asleep next to her. here is the point of everything i have been trying to tell you oskar. it's always necessary."


  1. Since you liked "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" you should try "History of Love" (written by Foer's wife!)

    PS I know that you don't know me...but my little brother is best friends with your nephew Max, and we have tons of Provo friends-in-common. Hope that stalking isn't too weird :)

  2. "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I think you will LOVE IT! (Plus it takes place in the British Isles)

    "Les Miserables" is my favorite book, so I always recommend it, especially the abridged version.

  3. What a treat to hear from you! Oh what I would give to see you! It has been way too long. You are such an awesome girl Chair!!! You are so enthusiastic about life and such an amazing writer! I love seeing all the fun adventures you're taking part in and reading you thoughts. Keep it up! I love you cute girl.

  4. Second the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society!! Loved it! I have it. Stop by and you can borrow it. Would love to see you!

  5. Have you read Screwtape Letters?

  6. I loved Les Miserables also- highly recommend it. A classic that changed me was Uncle Tom's cabin. If you haven't read it, you must! For an easy fun read I loved These is my words by Nancy E turner.

  7. 'Tuesdays with Morrie' by Mitch Albom.

    Loved it.

  8. you HAVE to read les mis- i truly believe it counts for 5 books because of how deeply beautiful, poignant, and long it is-i'm in the middle and i have read it slowly on purpose so i can take it all in.

    also, some incredible short books- the little prince and jonathan livingston seagull. so so good and magical.

  9. Oh and YES that was Taylor down in Vegas this week at the 1/2 ironman!!! It's too bad you couldn't see each other, he would've loved that! That's neat your roomie was there doing that! I have so much respect for all those guys, it's crazy! But yep it was Tay and my dad was there doing it too! Dang, maybe next time! Love ya cute girl!

  10. Once again, our tastes show kindred spirits dear Charity! I agree that My Antonia is a beautifully written book and Extremely Loud & Incredibly close is one of my most recent favorite books too!
    Other Rec's:
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon (Excellent read with similar perspective to EL&IC)
    for lighter/fast reads, I HIGHLY recommend the Hunger Games series (3 books by Suzanne Collins)
    The Glass Castle by jeanette walls is another good read (though a little sad/heavier)
    Enders Game by Orson Scott Card is a great one too (Sci-Fi)
    Clearly, my tastes are varied but I could keep going on with books I love. Let me know if you need more ideas ;) I'm about to start a book called Major Pettigrew's Last Stand for book club (english countryside romance here i come!)

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  12. Charity darling, I love your blog. What beautiful words you posted. If you haven't read Wallace Stegner yet, you need to read Crossing to Safety and Angle of Repose. Two of my all time favorites.

  13. So, I've never posted before, but I absolutely find your blog sooo encouraging, and I love reading your thoughts on life, etc. :D With that said, I just picked up the book Black heels to Tractor Wheels by the Pioneer Woman, and literally haven't been able to put it down. I highly recommend. It's rare to find a love story that also has morals mixed in. Happy reading...25 books in a year is such a good goal!
    Kristen Porter

  14. I just read My Antonia this year and would love to talk about it. It was so amazing. Thanks for the reminder of that great writing and an incredible character.

    Soon I'll be reading EL&IC. Sounds fantastic!

  15. Charity - I came across this post in the most unusual way -(details to be described some other day...) but I love that you have challenged yourself to read. I have given myself a similar goal - but my goal was to read 101 books in 1001 days. From the books that I have read - I would recommend two of them to you: 'The Book Thief' & 'These is My Words'. I only recommend them to you because I know that you have a lot of passion for what you do and who you want to become in life - and these two books embrace life in ways that I have seen you "grab-the-bull-by-the-horns" and enjoy life. IF you decide to read them - I would LOVE to hear what you thought of them... if not... then I hope to get a recommendation back from you!

    Best wishes! I miss you & enjoy reading your blog!