Sometimes when you’re reading a book, a particular sentence will jump out, grab you by the collar, and start beating you about the head. In a good way! These are the sentences we still remember years later, even when we no longer remember the name of the books they came from. The sentences we’re tempted to use as our Twitter bios, but that would be pretentious. The sentences we want to sign off with on birthday cards, but that would be confusing. Here they are, some of our favorite sentences in all of literature. What are yours?
“Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” –Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. … I came upon it suddenly; the approach masked by the unnatural growth of a vast shrub that spread in all directions… There was Manderley, our Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, the gray stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and terrace. –Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
–Rebecca Jane Stokes
“Ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row.” –The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom. –Beloved, by Toni Morrison
“That I can read and be happy while I am reading, is a great blessing.” –Autobiography of Anthony Trollope, by Anthony Trollope
“[If] the world would stop indulging wars and famines and other perils, it would be possible for human beings to embarrass each other to death.” –from The Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving
“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” –God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, by Kurt Vonnegut
“A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head.” –A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
“Like many others before him, Abbott discovers, once married, that marriage is a battle—clinically, a negotiation—over the possession of the Bad Mood.” –Abbott Awaits, by Chris Bachelder
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful what we pretend to be.” –Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut
What’s your favorite sentence in literature?