Passages from books I’ve loved

The Parisians by Marius Gabriel

His smile was boyish, charming. ‘I’m till forming my opinions about almost everything.’

‘Unusual for a German,’ Arletty said dryly. ‘Most of you have very well-established opinions.’

‘That’s only possible if you swallow the opinions of others whole and convince yourself they’re your own.  Which, of course, is what most Germans do.  Speaking for myself, I’m in no hurry to form opinions.  Having an opinion suggests you’ve stopped trying new things.  And I hope I will never lose my delight in trying new things.’

It’s embarrassingly plain how inadequate language is.

Never let anyone make you feel ordinary.

It’s always best when discussing serious matters to do so around a teapot.

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

With all due respect, what you read is more important in the long term than the man you marry…

Books are more than doctors, of course.  Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip round the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you’ve got those autumn blues.  And some … well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful voice. Like a short, torrid love affair.

There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred.  There are even remedies – I mean books – that were written for one person only.

When the stars imploded billions of years ago, iron and silver, gold and carbon came raining down. And the iron from that stardust is in us today – in our mitochondria. Mothers pass on the stars and their iron to their children. Who knows, Jean, you and I might be made of theist from one and the same star, and maybe we recognised each other by its light. We were searching for each other. We are star seekers.

Isn’t it strange how life is always taking you to places and to people you’re supposed to see and meet?” 

Isn’t it strange how life is always taking you to places and to people you’re supposed to see and meet?” 

In the silence of the woods it felt like I could hear the passage of time, of life passing by. One person leaves, another appears. A thought flits away and another takes its place. One image bids farewell and another one appears on the scene. As the days piled up, I wore out, too, and was remade. Nothing stayed still. And time was lost. Behind me, time became dead grains of sand, which one after another gave way and vanished. I just sat there in front of the hole, listening to the sound of time dying.

A face is like reading a palm. More than the features you’re born with, a face is gradually formed over the passage of time, through all the experiences a person goes through, and no two faces are alike.

He smiled understandingly – much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced – or seemed to face – the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.

The most difficult thing to do is read time. Maybe because it changes so many things.

Someone needs to tell those tales.  When battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang soughing, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative.  There’s magic in that.  It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.  From the mundane to the profound.  You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose.  That tale may move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.  That is your role, your gift.

It’s simple: Women who pick at their food hate sex.  Women who suck the meat off lobster claws, order (and finish) dessert – these are the women who are going to rip your clothes off and come back for seconds.

Loving is different from being loved.  Giving and seeing how a person flourishes and feeds off your love; the amount of power you possess, and the fact that power makes someone the best they can be.

This was the simple happiness of complete harmony with her surroundings, the happiness that asks for nothing, that just accepts, just breathes, just is.

All down the stone steps on either side were periwinkles in full flower, and she could now see what it was that had caught at her the night before and brushed, wet and scented across her face. It was wisteria. Wisteria and sunshine … she remembered the advertisement.  Here indeed were both in profusion. 

All the radiance of Italy lay gathered together at her feet.  The sun poured in on her. The sea lay asleep in it, hardly stirring.

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