Best Of 200In this second installment of BookTrib’s continuing series that aims to bring you, dear reader, 50 of the most memorable lines in literature, you’ll have lots of fodder for those late-night trivia sessions at the bar. Or just some pithy responses to everyday questions. How do you work classic literature into your daily life? And, as always, we welcome your suggestions in the comments. Books and the literary lifestyle thrive when shared. As an added bonus, since 2014 is the Year of Reading Women, this week’s installment offers ten brilliant gems from women writers.


1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Advice as easily applicable as to writing as it is to how we live our lives, Atticus Finch’s words to his daughter, Scout, should resonate for all of us:

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.”

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2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Are you about to enter a ring where you’ll fight strangers to the death and you want to wish them good luck (but not really)? This rallying call from Collins’s trilogy is for you. Also applicable in more common—and non-lethal—situations like telling someone you hope her job interview goes well:

“May the odds be ever in your favor.”

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3. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Looking for the perfect, most succinct way to describe your new roommate? O’Connor has you covered (and let’s all take a moment to hum “happy birthday” to the author, who would have turned 89 on March 25th):

“Her name was Maude and she drank whisky all day from a fruit jar under the counter.”

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4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Never let it be said that wizards aren’t wise, and now you can be, too! Just take a page from Dumbledore:

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

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5. Middlemarch by George Eliot

There’s a smooth way to compliment someone’s appearance while simultaneously implying that they have a horrible fashion sense. Let Eliot be your guide:

“Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.”

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6. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Looking for a way to summarize your vacation in the limited space a postcard provides? Look no further than the cheeriest of the cheery, Ms. Plath:

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” 

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7. The Clocks by Agatha Christie

It’s a given that your little grey cells probably aren’t on par with that most fastidious of Belgian detectives, but let Hercule Poirot help you subtly imply someone is a moron:

“You could have known if you had asked. How do you expect to know anything if you do not ask the proper questions?”

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8. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

Sometimes, you just need the perfect sound byte to describe your tiny, peculiar hometown in the middle of nowhere. McCullers has you covered:

“In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.”

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9. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

It helps to have a guide when we’re thinking of what to ask the higher powers, even if we’ve already gone through puberty:

“Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. I just told my mother I want a bra. Please help me grow God. You know where.”

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10. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Tack this pledge up on your fridge to remind yourself the kind of men to avoid at the bar, on the subway, and, well, anywhere else:

“I will not fall for any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobics, people with girlfriends or wives, misogynists, megalomaniacs, chauvinists, emotional fuckwits or freeloaders, perverts.”

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Whose monologue or snappy retort is bouncing around your head? Let us know in the comments and maybe we’ll use one in a future post! 

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