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ucme's avatar

Is there a line in a book that for whatever reason you have memorised?

Asked by ucme (50047points) February 14th, 2010

Something that like a phone number comes to mind naturally without hesitation.Is it simply because it’s a memorable line in itself or does it actually mean something to you or evoke a particular memory?

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39 Answers

tragiclikebowie's avatar

“In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people very angry, and has been widely regarded as a bad idea.”

ModernEpicurian's avatar

“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori ”
Roughly translated is, It is good and right to die for your country.
I’m not wholly sure why it remains just at the forefront of my mind, I’m hardly in any position to commit such an act. But the quote, at the time, (a tender teenager was I)seemed to speak volumes to me.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

“The colonel was certainly not going to waste his time and energy making love to beautiful women unless there was something in it for him.”

Lurve for whoever knows what book it is from.

jonsblond's avatar

“He didn’t get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!” Annie Wilkes, Misery.

Cockadoodie makes me giggle.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

“Lightning sought our mother out.”

It’s the opening line of a book entitled Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willet. I read a lot and happen to be a freelance book editor, and I think this is the best opening line I’ve ever read.

dpworkin's avatar

I do it all the time: A recent one from Jno. Swift: Lawyers are a race of men, bred from birth to argue, with words multiplied for the purpose, that black is white, or white black, according as how they are paid.

And, @hawaii_jake, that line is a rip-off of Nabokov’s famous parenthetical, “picnic, lightning” from Lolita.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

“Real isn’t how you’re made, it’s a thing that happens to you.”
– The Velveteen Rabbit -

ducky_dnl's avatar

“Good things never last.” – King Kong

cbloom8's avatar

”...whatever we are, it’s we who move the world and it’s we who’ll pull it through”

”...‘left’ or ‘right’ or ‘don’t try anything funny, Juno, or I’ll blow your great big fucking head off.’”

Both – memorable and meaningful.

SuperMouse's avatar

“To have a reason to get up in the morning, a bumper sticker if you will.” – Ordinary People by Judith Guest
“As I stepped out into the bright sunlight…” The Outsiders by SE Hinton

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

“When I reflect upon the number of disagreeable people who I know have gone to a better world,I am moved to lead a different life.” Pudd’nhead Wilson written by Mark Twain

absalom's avatar

“Mario loves Hal so much it makes his heart beat hard.”

“I walk, but I’m not scared. I feel my fear moving away in rings through time for a million years.”

And others.

Bluefreedom's avatar

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – A Tale of Two Cities – Charles
Dickens. (This line evokes memories of my first marriage; more of the latter than the former, though).

Dilettante's avatar

So many…but this one comes to mind just now, for some reason:

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

From “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Says so much; the concept of one’s life flashing before one’s eyes in the instant before death, for example. The imagery of him standing there against a bullet-hole-pocked wall, perhaps squinting into the same afternoon sun he is recalling. And from a writer’s standpoint, it’s a perfect “narrative hook,” to engage the reader; provoke him to continue reading and answer the questions this simple statement poses:
Why was he being shot? By whom? What happened? Where is he that “going to see ice made” is such a big deal? And then, of course, one enters the award-winning world of Marquez.

Which immediately brought to mind (this one may not be exact):

“It was dusk, and they were all sitting around the big green dining tent pretending as if nothing had happened.”

I love it. From “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” by Ernest Hemingway

Pretending as if nothing had happened? LOL Whaaa? Something really bad must’ve happened, I must read on to find out what it was. Big Green Tent? Military? Where are they? Sets the mood, tone, place, time; and evokes the reader’s keen interest, in one concise opening line. I just found myself chuckling about the title words, too. hehehe
This is why some writers are called masters, receive the Nobel Prize for literature, and make me feel uncomfortable that I can’t match them; yet I admire them so very much. I savor each word, sounding it out, reading it aloud again and again. I haven’t read either of these works in decades, by the way; yet they’re with me still

PS. Someone once asked Hemingway why he rewrote a particular paragraph in one of his novels several hundred times. He replied, “Because I wanted to get the words right.”

Bluefreedom's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence. I just read that book on my Kindle. It was quite appealing.

Berserker's avatar

It’s easy to get all philosophical when you ain’t the one with shit for blood.

Mark Renton, commenting on how easy it is to say that living with the HIV virus is no big deal when you’re not the one who has to. From Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.

dpworkin's avatar

The New Orleans thread just reminded me of one of my favorite lines ever, by Johan Wolfgang von Goethe: There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

We must all tend our own garden. (I was taken to task—at length—for quoting from this book once before in another thread. A lovely line to sum up an entire novel.)

Always store beer in a dark place. Robert A. Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love contained whole sections of aphorisms. Like Proverbs for Future Folks.

Who is John Galt?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@dpworkin : What’s the line from Lolita? I read the book a very long time ago.

dpworkin's avatar

I quoted it, above.

My mother died when I was young (picnic, lightning)

janbb's avatar

One of my favorite line is from one of my favorite poems:

“And I walked abroad in a shower of all my days.”

Poem in October by Dylan Thomas

janbb's avatar

From a novel. I love the last line from The Great Gatsby:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly to the past.”

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@dpworkin : I don’t think the line is a rip off of that sentence from Lolita.

I’m sorry not to have quoted the full sentence from the book. It is, “Lightning sought our mother out, when she was a young girl in Brown County, Indiana.”

The book also has one of the funniest extended metaphors I’ve ever read:

“He tried on a bemused smile, as though his thoughts were elsewhere, a ruse so inept that it was almost heroic. Picture Christ, crucified, trying to recall whether he’d turned the oven off.”

dpworkin's avatar

Sounds better in context. Sorry.

TheLoneMonk's avatar

He was about as sensitive as a goddamn toilet seat. Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye.

Rarebear's avatar

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy tove…” along with the rest of the poem

LeotCol's avatar

From one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld book’s subtexts: “The speed of dark, thought to be even faster than the speed of light as it can move so quickly out of light’s way.”

Judi's avatar

“Perfect speed is being there.”
Johnathan Livingston Seagull.

aprilsimnel's avatar

“A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just like a sum of honey might be a leading character in a tale about bees.”

—-Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: Or Pearls Before Swine

“There once upon a time was a man who was partly Dave – he had a mission in life.”

—-John Lennon, In His Own Write
Lennon could just be so delightfully silly.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

(On reflection, maybe I spend too much time living life vicariously through books and not enough actually experiencing it. Regardless, here are my favorite lines.)

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.” – George Orwell1984

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” – George OrwellAnimal Farm

“He who controls the past controls the future.” – George Orwell1984

“Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” – George Orwell1984

“I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.” – Michael CrichtonState of Fear

“Those who don’t build must burn. It’s as old as history and juvenile delinquence.” – Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

“Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale
Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.” – William ShakespeareKing John

“In a false quarrel there is no true valour.” – William ShakespeareMuch Ado About Nothing

“My library was dukedom large enough.” – William ShakespeareThe Tempest

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

“But you have to live with yourself, Raistlin. And there are times in the night when that must be damn near unbearable.” – Margaret Weis & Tracy HickmanWar of the Twins

“Arrest the tree” he insisted” Obstructing sunlight! That’s the charge!” – Margaret Weis & Tracy HickmanDragons of Autumn Twilight

“Flint sat back down on the stone and began to carve once more. He scowled up at Tanis. ‘Why the beard? You were ugly enough!’” – Margaret Weis & Tracy HickmanDragons of Autumn Twilight

“Is it eradicating evil? Or are we like children, left alone in the house at night, who light candle after candle to keep away the darkness. We don’t see that the darkness has a purpose – though we may not understand it – and so, in our terror, we end up burning down the house!” – Margaret Weis & Tracy HickmanTime of the Twins

” ‘Why is it that you are called half-elf and not half-man?’
‘According to humans, half an elf is but part of a whole being. Half a man is a cripple.’ ” – Margaret Weis & Tracy HickmanDragons of Autumn Twilight

“If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear the pain of loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.” – Margaret Weis & Tracy HickmanDragons of Winter Night

Some of these I had to look up to get the wording right, since I was quoting them.

LunaChick's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna – leave it to you to have so many favorite lines. When I saw this question, I thought of sending it to you. I see there was no need. ;)

I always remember the first line from one of my favorite childhood books, whenever I see a squirrel – “Miss Suzy was a little gray squirrel who lived all by herself in the tip, tip, top of a tall oak tree.” ‘Miss Suzy’ by Miriam Young.

I also like the following line, from ‘Lost Souls’ by Poppy Z. Brite: “His name is Nothing. Care for him and he will bring you luck.”

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@LunaChick: “His name is Nothing. Care for him and he will bring you luck.”
omg, memories!

Just_Justine's avatar

“life is difficult..” The Road Less Travelled.

anartist's avatar

Somebody threw a dead dog after him down the ravine.
end of Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano

ThaiBigBri's avatar

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” – Salvor Hardin, Mayor of Terminus, from Foundation by Sir Isaac Asimov

flutherother's avatar

“We knew that soon we should come to Mandaroon. We made a meal and Mandaroon appeared.” From Idle Days on the Yann by Lord Dunsany

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