Word Hoarding

I have always been a quote hoarder. Written in the margins of notebooks, on torn bits of napkin, sent to myself as text messages, it has always been important to me to hold onto words with which I have an affinity. For a while I had a dedicated miniature moleskine (which now hides in the recesses of my parents’ house) filled with lines of meaningful words, of words I wished to keep, written in the same small caps, with the same felt-tipped black pens, transferred with care from the scattered scraps on which I first recorded them. I used to love stationary stores—I would spend inordinate amounts of vacation time in The Pink Mailbox, hiding from the cashier, ferociously scribbling down sayings from coffee mugs and inspirational post-it pads in order to keep the words without purchasing the object.


Recently I’ve moved away from “sayings.” I no longer find “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” a delightful rhetorical question. I no longer have to write down “Live, Laugh, Love” or “Do one thing every day that scares you” because they are on mugs in every knick knack stores, they are on everyone’s Facebook “About Me.” No matter how inspirational to the feminine sex, I don’t want to ever hear another quote from Marilyn Monroe.

I have never been someone who writes in books. Books have always retained that semi-sacred allure for me—even in college I refused to mark my pages in ink, instead using hoards of post-it flags to mark quotes I needed for discussions, for papers. But recently, I have found myself frequently reaching for a pencil (never pen) mid-sentence. I’ve found myself clinging to phrases again, but instead of scrawling them down in stores on scraps of paper I am underlining them in my bed, in my butterfly chair. I underline using pencil in some vain hope that I can erase them if I ever need to remove all trace from myself from the book. Why I would need to, I’m not sure, but it’s a feeling I have anyway.

As you know, hoarders amass much more than they need, much more than they can ever hope to use, so I thought today I would pass some of my hoardings along. They have been chosen at random, plucked from whatever books are closest to my desk, and whatever lines stand out starkly enough that I can see them as I fan through the pages. I don’t profess to know if you will even like these words. But I do. And I would like to share a habit that has primarily been a solitary one.

So, here are some quotes, from me to you. Feel free to send some back—I’m always collecting.


“It seems this will be the dominant feeling in her life, this somewhat gratifying monotony, like a boring song played especially for her.” –The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, Robert Boswell


“I found out early that you can throw yourself away, missing what you’ve lost.” –The Likeness, Tana French


“We live half our waking lives and all of our sleeping lives in some private, useless, and insensible waters we never mention or recall.” –“Total Eclipse,” Annie Dillard


“Few things are more deceptive than memories.” –The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón


 “What would I do if I stopped writing? …Who would know I was alive?” –The Adderall Diaries, Stephen Elliott


 “We talk in the vague hope of finding out what we mean.” –The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, Robert Boswell


“Words are arbitrary things, assigned to their objects in slippery ways.” –The Art of Description, Mark Doty


“Our world will not die as a result of the bomb, as the papers say, it will die of laughter, of banality, of making a joke of everything, and a lousy joke at that.” –The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón


Dare to Dream