The smell of her hair,
the taste of her mouth,
the feeling of her skin
seemed to have got inside him,
or into the air all round him.
She had become a physical necessity.”

George Orwell

One ought,
every day at least,
to hear a little song,
read a good poem,
see a fine picture, and,
if it were possible,
to speak a few reasonable words.”

 Goethe

Never forget what you are,
for surely the world will not.
Make it your strength.
Then it can never be your weakness.
Armour yourself in it,
and it will never be used to hurt you.”

George RR Martin

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

Neil Gaiman

“Dumbledore watched her fly away,
and as her silvery glow faded
he turned back to Snape,
and his eyes were full of tears.
After all this time?”
Always,” said Snape.”

J.K. Rowling

When she’d kissed him, she had surprised herself. It had been such an impulse – the way she sometimes reached out to catch a stray leaf on the wind, or jumped a puddle on a rainy day – something done without thinking or resisting, something pointless and harmless. She had never done anything like that before and never would again, and looking back on it, she would forever be surprised at herself, and a little shocked. But at that moment she had known, with a certainty she would never feel about anything else in her life, that it was right, that she wanted this man in her life. Something inside her said, “he understands what it’s like to be different.”

Celeste NG

The cat had been thrown in the by-lane, and when Mir Nihal went out in the evening he saw that she was not dead after all. She had licked the water from the gutter and had come back to life. So does life inflict wounds on men, thought Mir Nihal, and looking grey for some time they become whole and hale again. Fate treats human beings with cruelty and is unconcerned. Death takes lives, parts lovers, bereaves mothers and children, husbands and wives, and , with callous indifference, goes about her ravagers with the hard-hearted grace of a fell beloved who prides herself on breaking both hearts and homes.

Ahmed Ali

A Song of Achilles – An Excerpt

“I will go,” he said. “I will go to Troy.” The rosy gleam of his lip, the fevered green of his eyes. There was not a line anywhere on his face, nothing creased or graying; all crisp. He was spring, golden and bright. Envious death would drink his blood, and grow young again. He was…

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1984: An Excerpt

It struck him that in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but always against one’s own body… On the battlefield, in the torture chamber, on a sinking ship, the issues that you are fighting for are always forgotten, because the body swells up until it fills the universe, and even…

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I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race—that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.

None of those things, however, came out of my mouth. All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said it to the book thief and I say it now to you.

I am haunted by humans.

Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

The tongue can conceal the truth, but the eyes never!
You’re asked an unexpected question, you don’t even flinch, it takes just a second to get yourself under control, you know just what you have to say to hide the truth, and you speak very convincingly, and nothing in your face twitches to give you away.
But the truth, alas, has been disturbed by the question,
and it rises up from the depths of your soul to flicker in your eyes and all is lost.

Mikhail Bulgakov,
The Master and Margarita

A Room of One’s Own : An Excerpt

“It would have been extremely odd, even upon this showing, had one of them suddenly written the plays of Shakespeare, I concluded, and I thought of that old gentleman, who is dead now, but was a bishop, I think, who declared that it was impossible for any woman, past, present, or to come, to have…

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Serious Men – An Excerpt

‘I am sorry,’ Acharya said, ‘I could not see you last night.’ ‘There is some progress with the cryosampler,’ she said, and gave him a print-out of an email. And that was how she was in the days that followed. Something in her was dead. He could see it in her eyes. The way she…

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz – An Excerpt

Baretski begins to tease Lale about the note and how he must have lost his touch with the ladies. Lale ignores his teasing, asks him if he’s read any good books lately. ‘Books? I don’t read books,’ Baretski mutters. ‘You should.’ ‘Why? What good are books?’ ‘You can learn a lot from them, and girls…

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David Copperfield – An Excerpt

I don’t remember who was there, except Dora. I have not the least idea what we had for dinner, besides Dora. My impression is, that I dined off Dora, entirely, and sent away half-a-dozen plates untouched. I sat next to her. I talked to her. She had the most delightful little voice, the gayest little…

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The Last Mughal: An Excerpt

I have now divided my time between London and Delhi for over twenty years, and the Indian capital remains my favourite city. Above all it is the city’s relationship with its past which continues to intrigue me: of the great cities of the world, only Rome, Istanbul and Cairo can even begin to rival Delhi…

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