A short selection of quotes from some of my favorite novels

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – Thorin Oakenfield, to Bilbo (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit)

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“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” – Sirius Black, to Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

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“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” – while Scrooge watches his nephew’s party with the Ghost of Christmas Present (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

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“Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.” – Mother, to the girls (Louisa May Alcott, Little Women)

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“The old doll said, ‘I wonder who will come for me this time. Someone will come. Someone always comes. Who will it be?’ ‘I don’t care if anyone comes for me,’ said Edward. ‘But that’s dreadful,’ said the old doll. ‘There’s no point in going on if you feel that way. No point at all. You must be filled with expectancy. You must be awash in hope. You must wonder who will love you, whom you will love next.'” – The old doll on the shelf, to Edward (Kate DiCamillo, The Miraculous Adventures of Edward Tulane)

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“Love is ridiculous. But love is also wonderful. And powerful. And Despereaux’s love for the Princess Pea would prove, in time, to be all of these things: powerful, wonderful, and ridiculous.” – Narrator (Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Desperaux)

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“Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.” – Anatole Ngemba, to Leah Price (Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible)

“He had said, ‘I am a man,’ and that meant certain things to Juana. It meant that he was half insane and half god. It meant that Kino would drive his strength against a mountain and plunge his strength against the sea. Juana, in her woman’s soul, knew that the mountain would stand while the man broke himself; that the sea would surge while the man drowned in it. And yet it was this thing that made him a man, half insane and half god…” – Narrator (John Steinbeck, The Pearl)

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“‘Perhaps,’ she said, ‘to be able to learn things quickly isn’t everything. To be kind is worth a great deal to other people. If Miss Minchin knew everything on earth and was like what she is now, everybody would hate her. Lots of clever people have done harm and have been wicked.'” – Sara Crewe to Ermengarde (Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess)

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“The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.” – Death (Mark Zusak, The Book Thief)


Restricted from social wanderings in the name of physical distancing, more couples and families have been taking advantage of the fresh air and warm weather than I’ve seen in the 5 1/2 years my family has lived in Massachusetts.

As restaurants, schools, and non-essential businesses close, not set to reopen until at least May 4, assuming the governor doesn’t push the date further out, households struggle to keep life together and to reach a new normal.

Ours is not a unique time. Since the beginning of our existence humans have run against events that have challenged what we’re made of, what we can take, and what we value.

How do we define our lives?

What do we care most about?

Do our daily activities and attitudes reflect what we want to be?