I have to admit, this list isn’t as exciting or memorable as the “Best 100 FIRST Lines“… maybe that’s because many people don’t actually finish reading the books they purchase? Or perhaps authors spend more time with their openings than their closings?
We love this, too. Both of ‘em. This gives us the shivers:
44. Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. —Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
What we cannot survive without is ideas. Life on earth would be severely diminished without the well-thought-out, well-researched, written works that communicate expertise, insight, and creative ideas from one human being to another. That, historically, has been the role of books, and they have played it admirably, in works from the Bible to Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Silent Spring and The Shock Doctrine.
In our angst about the Kindle and the iPad, we are conflating the “how” of written works with the “what”: We are mistaking the package for the thing itself. What would be terribly frightening to lose is not the book per se but the tradition of long-form texts—call them “lofties”—that for centuries have been the primary vehicle through which creative, illuminating, controversial, and important ideas have been communicated. What is crucial at a time when habits of consumption are changing—for reasons both economic and technological—is to ensure the future of lofty ideas, whether they are set in Bodoni or pixels, hand-sewn at the binding or backlit and scrolled.
Evidently, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer knew what he was writing about. The Dept of Defense realized, too late, that they didn’t like what they read in his book. Now 10,000 copies are sitting in a warehouse, waiting to be … burned. Seriously? Where’s George Orwell when you need him?
I wasn’t honest with most of my boyfriends.
I just wanted to have as much sex as possible.
I never told my mom the real reason I got my tongue pierced.
The cigarettes that weren’t mine were actually mine, every time.
I’m not really okay with being alone in any sense.
I have been afraid of the dark since I was 6 years old.
I wish girls liked me more.
There is an exact ratio of coffee, cream, and sugar in every cup I drink.
Half the books I own I have never read.
”—from “I never went to that movie at 12:45” by Dolly Lemke in The Best American Poetry 2010
"The sheer size of our national debt—and the fact that it’s largely held by many of our global rivals—has reduced our potential geopolitical influence, because we really are controlled by the countries that have invested in us. They, in effect, are the stockholders of America Inc."
One way to make a name for yourself in the business? Start anonymous Twitter accounts poking fun at two of the biggest names in the publishing biz. Then reveal yourself. Let’s see how long it takes this guy to get a new book deal.
“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as ‘good’ and other sorts as ‘bad,’ is fearful behavior.”—from On Writing by Stephen King