Books I Read in 2018

The List, in chronological order

“Protect your heart so that you can keep it wide open. FEEL EVERYTHING. Keep your heart open, as wide open as you can. Open, open, open. Sooo soft. And then….put a big fucking fence around it. Make the fence tall and make it strong. Ask your angles to guard the gate at all times. Do not let anybody past your gate unless you think that they also have an open, gentle heart. Only let in people who are respectful, and interested, and really really loving. Emphasis on respectful.”

“Have less, be free, and you’ll be able to go anywhere, whenever you want.”

“Perhaps the easiest people to fall in love with are those about whom we know nothing. Romances are never as pure as those we imagine during long train journeys, as we secretly contemplate a beautiful person who is gazing out of the window.”

“For a few years, having a good love story felt a lot like having good love.”

“To be effective — to compel people to get and stay together — how-we-met stories require serendipity, implausibility, the implication of destiny. A story needs to feel special.”

“I think of the how-we-met story as the start of a plot. The more our own experiences match the generic conventions, the more likely we are to assume the plot will extend in predictable ways: love, marriage, happiness. So we overemphasise meetings in hopes they have the power to forecast endings.

“Wasn’t friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely?”

“In the weeks we’d been thrown together that summer, our lives had scarcely touched, but we had crossed to the other bank, where time stops and heaven reaches down to earth and gives us that ration of what is birth divinely ours. We looked the other way. We spoke about everything but. But we’ve always known, and not saying anything now confirmed it all the more. We had found the stars, you and I. And this is given once only.”

“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only — if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things — beautiful things — that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another?”

“Reading was fast becoming a heartbreaking chore. She had to reread pages over and over to retain the continuity of the thesis or narrative, and if she put the book down for any length of time, she had to go back sometimes a full chapter to find the thread again.”

“Lightbulb Joke #1: Q — ‘How many account directors does it take to change a lightbulb?’ A — ‘How many would the client like it to take?’ This tells you all you need to know about account directors.”

Almost all successful plays, films and novels are about primal human desires: success (Legally Blonde), revenge (Falling Down), love (Notting Hill), survival (Alien) or the protection of one’s family or home (Straw Dogs). Love, home, belonging, friendship, survival and self-esteem recur continually because they’re the subjects that matter to us most.

“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

“Stars are beautiful, but they may not take an active part in anything, they must just look on for ever. It is a punishment put on them for something they did so long ago that no star now knows what it was. So the older ones have become glassy-eyed and seldom speak (winking is the star language), but the little ones still wonder.”

“How can so many things become a bore by middle age — philosophy, radicalism, and other fast foods — but heartbreak keeps its sting?”

“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked, when they had made camp that day. “Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure.” “But my heart is agitated,” the boy said. “It has its dreams, it gets emotional, and it’s become passionate over a woman of the desert. It asks things of me, and it keeps me from sleeping many nights, when I’m thinking about her.” “Well, that’s good. Your heart is alive. Keep listening to what it has to say.”

Being a pro cyclist reminded me of Oregon Trail, a computer game I’d played as a kid based on pioneers moving west in the 1800s. In the game, you’d purchase “draft animals,” like oxen or horses, to pull your covered wagons. You could sell or trade them, but more often, you’d just use them up and buy a new one when they died.

Everyone knows how women soldier on, how women dream up blueprints, recipes, ideas for a better world, and then sometimes lose them on the way to the crib in the middle of the night, on the way to the Stop & Shop, or the bath. They lose them on the way to greasing the path on which their husband and children will ride serenely through life.

For Previous Lists

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sydney via seattle. believer. growth @futuresuper. ex strategy @forthepeopleau. experimenting with writing.

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