Yoon Ha Lee

The problem with authority is that if you leave it lying around, others will take it away from you.

All communication is manipulation, Jedao said. You’re a mathematician. You should know that from information theory.

In space there are no seasons, and this is as true of the ships that cross the distances between humanity's far-flung homes. But we measure our seasons anyway: by a smile, a silence, a song.

But then, war is about taking the future away from people.

I’m not a linguist, but do you ever think there’s something wrong with the things we do and don’t have words for?

The silence could have swallowed a star.

Immortality didn’t turn you into a monster. It merely showed you what kind of monster you already were.

There are too many shapes of love to be counted. One of them is forgiveness.


Naomi Novik

You intolerable lunatic," he snarled at me, and then he caught my face between his hands and kissed me.

If you don't want a man dead, don't bludgeon him over the head repeatedly.

Truth didn’t mean anything without someone to share it with; you could shout truth into the air forever, and spend your life doing it, if someone didn’t come and listen.

And I wasn't old enough to be wise, so I loved her more, not less, because I knew she would be taken from me soon.

What an unequaled gift for disaster you have.

I should rather have you than a heap of gold, even if it were very comfortable to sleep on. 

I was a glaring blot on the perfection. But I didn't care: I didn't feel I owed him beauty.

I don't want more sense! I said loudly, beating against the silence of the room. Not if sense means I'll stop loving anyone. What is there besides people that's worth holding on to?


Rebecca Roanhorse

But I had forgotten that the Diné had already suffered their apocalypse over a century before. This wasn’t our end. This was our rebirth.

Everything you've done, your past, it's all just a story you tell yourself. Some of it is true, but some of it is lies.

Words matter,' he says. 'The name you give things, it forms them when you speak. You must always be careful with your words.

You know people who love you don't hurt you like that, he says, eyes steady on me. Love's not supposed to try to kill you.

Some people believe you destroy your enemies by making them your friends. 


Becky Chambers

“Ninety percent of all problems are caused by people being assholes.”
“What causes the other ten percent?” asked Kizzy.
“Natural disasters,” said Nib.

All you can do, Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.

We cannot blame ourselves for the wars our parents start. Sometimes the very best thing we can do is walk away.

I can wait for the galaxy outside to get a little kinder.

“People can do terrible things when they feel safe and powerful.

 That’s not the same. What happened to you, to your species, it’s . . . it doesn’t even compare.’ ‘Why? Because it’s worse?’ She nodded. ‘But it still compares. If you have a fractured bone, and I’ve broken every bone in my body, does that make your fracture go away? Does it hurt you any less, knowing that I am in more pain?

'Humans’ preoccupation with ‘being happy’ was something he had never been able to figure out. No sapient could sustain happiness all of the time, just as no one could live permanently within anger, or boredom, or grief.


William Taubman 

They had to pay taxes on fruit trees whether or not they bore fruit, Gorbachev remembered, “so peasants cut down their orchards.

“Moscow State University.”4 MGU was to the USSR what Harvard is to the United States—except that in the Soviet Union there was almost nothing else, no Yale, Princeton, or Stanford, no Ivy League, no equally distinguished state universities, no elite liberal arts colleges. Moscow the city was itself unique.

As the result of the war, Stalin’s economic administrator, Nikolai Voznesensky, informed him in January 1946, the USSR lost 30 percent of its national wealth.

“You may tell anyone you want,” Khrushchev continued, “that we will never accept Adenauer as a representative of Germany. He is a zero. If Adenauer pulls down his pants and you look at him from behind you can see Germany is divided. If you look at him from the front, you can see Germany will not stand.”

We cannot possibly permit it, either as Communists or internationalists, or as the Soviet state. We would have capitalists on the frontier of the Soviet Union.


Edward P. Jones

We are all worthy of one another.

The hitter can never be the judge. Only the receiver of the blow can tell you how hard it was, whether it would kill a man or make a baby just yawn.

A woman, no matter the age, is always learning, always becoming. But a man . . . stops learning at fourteen or so.

A man does not learn very well, Mr. Robbins. Women, yes, because they are used to bending with whatever wind comes along. A woman, no matter the age, is always learning, always becoming. But a man, if you will pardon me, stops learning at fourteen or so. He shuts it all down, Mr. Robbins. A log is capable of learning more than a man. To teach a man would be a battle, a war, and I would lose.

Whenever people in that part of the world asked Patterson about the wonders of America, the possibilities and the hope of America, Patterson would say that it was a good and fine place but all the Americans were running it into the ground and that it would be a far better place if it had no Americans.


Marilynne Robinson

There's so much to be grateful for, words are poor things.

This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.

Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life.

Love is holy because it is like grace--the worthiness of its object is never really what matters.

Memory can make a thing seem to have been much more than it was.

These people who can see right through you never quite do you justice, because they never give you credit for the effort you're making to be better than you actually are, which is difficult and well meant and deserving of some little notice.

Because, once alone, it is impossible to believe that one could ever have been otherwise. Loneliness is an absolute discover.



Alice McDermott

If you want to see how far we have not come from the cave and the woods, from the lonely and dangerous days of the prarie or the plain, witness the reaction of a modern suburban family, nearly ready for bed, when the doorbell rings or the door is rattled. They will stop where they stand, or sit bolt upright in their beds, as if a streak of pure lightning has passed through the house. Eyes wide, voices fearful, they will whisper to each other, "There's someone at the door," in a way that might make you believe they have always feared and anticipated this moment - that they have spent their lives being stalked.

My love for the child asleep in the crib, the child's need for me, for my vigilance, had made my life valuable in a way that even the most abundantly offered love, my parents', my brother's, even Tom's, had failed to do. Love was required of me now--to be given, not merely to be sought and returned.

The day and time itself: late afternoon in early February, was there a moment of the year better suited for despair?

It was not the future they'd been objecting to, but the loss of the past. As if it was his fault that you could now have one without the other.


Denis Johnson

She wanted to eat my heart and be lost in the desert with what she'd done, she wanted to fall on her knees and give birth from it, she wanted to hurt me as only a child can be hurt by its mother.

I knew every raindrop by its name.

English words are like prisms. Empty, nothing inside, and still they make rainbows.

And therefore I looked down into the great pity of a person’s life on this earth. I don’t mean that we all end up dead, that’s not the great pity. I mean that he couldn’t tell me what he was dreaming, and I couldn’t tell him what was real.

Talk into my bullet hole. Tell me I'm fine.

Sometimes what I wouldn't give to have us sitting in a bar again at 9:00 a.m. telling lies to one another, far from God.

All these weirdos, and me getting a little better every day right in the midst of them. I had never known, never even imagined for a heartbeat, that there might be a place for people like us.


Elizabeth Strout

I suspect the most we can hope for, and it's no small hope, is that we never give up, that we never stop giving ourselves permission to try to love and receive love.

It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere, and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it’s the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down.

You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind.

Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful? Most likely not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.

She didn't like to be alone. Even more, she didn't like being with people.

Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.

You will have only one story, she had said. You’ll write your one story many ways. Don’t ever worry about story. You have only one.

He wanted to put his arms around her, but she had a darkness that seemed to stand beside her like an acquaintance that would not go away.