Sunday Salon: Noted quotes

The Sunday SalonWhen I was a teenager I used to write down favourite quotes and stick them on my bedroom wall and mirror. I had dozens of them by the time I left for university. I remember there were a lot of Oscar Wilde aphorisms, because they seem immensely clever and worldly when you first discover them, but there were also some lines of poetry, beautiful combinations of words that spoke to me.

These days when I read, I don’t take note of the same kind of things I did back then. When I pick out quotes for my reviews, I’m choosing lines that demonstrate the style of the book. They might well be clever and/or beautiful, but not in the same way as those words on my old wall. Teenage me was searching for words to live by: inspiration, hope, advice, wisdom. Older me looks for a more abstract beauty in words, a sense of originality, ultimately something I truly admire.

Those teenage quotes are still with me, as in I remember most of them, though I expect the actual scraps of paper are long gone and if not, I’m pretty sure the ink will have faded to almost nothing. But though the quotes I pick out these days are arguably better, chosen for purer reasons, I never remember them. Even as I’m closing the final pages of a book in which I have underlined dozens of passages that I loved, I won’t remember any of them.

This might be partly a comment on my failing memory, or on how much more information I have crammed into my brain in the years since I was a teenager, but I find it a little sad I don’t retain nuggets of literature in that way anymore. Perhaps I need to read more poetry, as the rhythms lend themselves to being memorised. I love the idea of being able to quote whole poems (something else I did as a teenager – why yes I was tad pretentious) but worry what other information I’d be squeezing out.

Do you remember good quotes from books you read? Do you keep note of quotes you like?

3 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Noted quotes

  1. Barbara Bartels January 18, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    I used to write down quotes — but not quite the way you did — and I memorized a bunch of poems —just in case I got stuck in solitary confinement or lost on a deserted island or simply got bored and needed something to do with my mind for a while. They have served me well. i also find that I memorized a lot of single lines of poetry without really trying — but again mostly poetry, only a few favorite lines from novels. I do find however that I need to double check those lines if I use them in writing — because occasionally my mind has altered them.

  2. Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) January 18, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I’ve never been good at memorizing things, but sometimes wish I had more of a repertoire — it seems like quotes can be such a comfort at some moments, moments when looking things up might not be appropriate or comforting.

  3. Eva January 19, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    After reading a few books last year with characters who could quote from all kinds of lit I decided to start memorizing poetry. I love the idea of adding favorite book quotes too! So thanks for that. I must admit I’ve yet to work a quote into conversation though, for fear of sounding pretentious. But I like being able to recite them to myself at least. While I’m glad that education now encourages more interaction and independent thinking, I do wish they hadn’t abolished memorizing entirely. Learning a piece by heart lets you live with it in a different way, and it inherently values a slow, deep approach that is rarely found in modern society. I think a taste of that would be good for everyone!

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