Readers,

We have finally waved goodbye to 2020. After filling in 366 pages, a fresh set of 365 days has been given to us. With the conclusion of a year is the commencement of a new one. 2020 has been eventful and filled with uncertainty. The future is also filled with uncertainty but hope still springs eternal. Staying true to what has become my annual tradition, I am kicking off the new year by looking back to the previous year, its hits, and of course, its mishits. It is also an opportunity to take a glimpse on how the coming year is going to shape up.

This book wrap up is a part of a mini-series which will feature the following:

  1. 2020 Top Ten Not-So Favorite Reads
  2. 2020 Top Ten Favorite Books
  3. 2020 Book Wrap Up
  4. 2020 Most Memorable Book Quotes (Part I)
  5. 2020 Most Memorable Book Quotes (Part II)
  6. 2020 New Favorite Authors
  7. 2021 Books I Look Forward To List
  8. 2021 Top 21 Reading List

Because of the pandemic, 2020 is my best year in terms of reading. I managed to complete 93 books, the third time I ended a reading year with at least 90 books (or maybe second, LOL). It was also one of my most diverse as I have read the works of various nationalities, from Japanese, Korean, Russian, Nigerian, Egyptian, Turkish to a couple more. In fact, nearly 30 of the books I have read are translations. Another thing that characterized 2020 is the number of “new books” I have read. As you might already know, I am the backlist type of reader but I ended 2020 with 26 “new books”, a personal best. It was, to say the least, a groundbreaking year on many fronts.

These 93 books were all wells of memorable and impressionable book quotes. Since there were too many quotes to choose from, I decided to pick way beyond the normal number I choose for this annual post. For my 2020 Most Memorable Quotes, I have picked a whopping 40 quotes from various books. Without further ado, here’s the first batch of my favorite quotes from my 2020 reads.


“As it unfolded, the structure of the story began to remind me of one of those Russian dolls that contain innumerable ever-smaller dolls within. Step by step the narrative split into a thousand stories, as if it had entered a gallery of mirrors, its identity fragmented into endless reflections.”
~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind


“I, the dreamer clinging yet to the dream as the patient clings to the last thin unbearable ecstatic instant of agony in order to sharpen the savor of the pain’s surcease, waking into the reality, the more than reality, not to the unchanged and unaltered old time but into a time altered to fit the dream which, conjunctive with the dreamer, becomes immolated and apotheosized”
~ William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!


“I am but paper. Brittle and thin. I am held up to the sun, and it shines right through me. I get written on, and I can never be used again. These scratches are a history. They’re a story. They tell things for others to read, but they only see the words, and not what the words are written upon. I am but paper, and though there are many like me, none are exactly the same. I am parched parchment. I have lines. I have holes. Get me wet, and I melt. Light me on fire, and I burn. Take me in hardened hands, and I crumple. I tear. I am but paper. Brittle and thin.”
~ TJ Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea


“I draw because words are too unpredictable. I draw because words are too limited. If you speak and write in English or Spanish or Chinese or any other language, then only a certain percentage of human beings will get your meaning. But when you draw a picture, everybody can understand it. If I draw a cartoon of a flower, then every man, woman, and child in the world can look at it and say “that’s a flower.” So I draw because I want to talk to the world and I want the world to pay attention to me.”
~ Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


“As I walked in the dark through the tunnels and tunnels of books, I could not help being overcome by a sense of sadness. I couldn’t help thinking that if I, by pure chance, had found a whole universe in s a single unknown book, buried in that endless necropolis, tens of thousand more would remain unexplored, forgotten forever. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by words and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory, day after day, unknowingly, feeling all the wiser the more it forgot.”
~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind


“One thing he discovered with a great deal of astonishment was that music held for him more than just pleasure. There was meat to it. The grouping of sounds, their forms in the air as they rang out and faded, said something comforting to him about the rule of Creation. What the music said was that there is a right way for things to be ordered so that life might not always be just tangle and drift, but have a shape, an aim. It was a powerful argument that life did not just happen.”
~ Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain


“I’m not what anyone thinks I am. I never was. I didn’t have the mouth to put it into words, to say what was wrong, to change the things I felt I needed to change. And every day it was difficult, walking around and knowing that people saw me one way, knowing that they were wrong, so completely wrong, that the real me was invisible to them. It didn’t even exist to them. So: If nobody sees you, are you still there?”
~ Akwaeke Emezi, The Death of Vivek Oji


“I kept the book for the title, for how it was spelled. Beautyful. I had no idea why that spelling was chosen, but I liked it because it kept the beauty intact. It wasn’t swallowed, killed off with an i to make a whole new word. It was solid; it was still there, so much of it that it couldn’t fit into a new word, so much fullness. You got a better sense of exactly what was causing that fullness. Beauty. I wanted to be as whole as that word.”
~ Akwaeke Emezi, The Death of Vivek Oji


“You know how the sun rises and sets at a certain time each day? In the same way, all of our lives have a day and night. But it’s not set like it is with the sun. Some people walk forever in the sunlight, and some people have to walk through the darkest night their whole lives. When people talk about being afraid, what they’re afraid of is that their sun will set. That the light they love will fade.”
~ Keigo Higashino, Journey Under the Midnight Sun


“After the death of all living creatures, all our unfulfilled wishes and unspoken words will go on drifting in the stratosphere, they will combine with one another and linger upon the earth like fog. What will this fog look like in the eyes of the living? Will they fail to remember the dead and instead indulge in banal meteorological conversations like: “It’s foggy today, don’t you think?”
~ Yoko Tawada, Memoirs of a Polar Bear


“Solving a problem for which you know there’s an answer is like climbing a mountain with a guide, along a trail someone else has laid. In mathematics, the truth is somewhere out there in a place no one knows, beyond all the beaten paths. And it’s not always at the top of the mountain. It might be in a crack on the smoothest cliff or somewhere deep in the valley.”
~ Yoko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor


“A part of our history has been erased, together with the lives of countless people. We’re forbidden to talk about events that relate to past mistakes or the wrong doing of those in power, for they give themselves the right to rewrite history. But you’re old enough to know that history will write itself in people’s memories, and as long as those memories live on, we can have faith that we can do better.”
~ Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, The Mountains Sing


“They say that a person’s personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn’t true, at least not entirely, because if our past was all that defined us, we’d never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”
~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People


“All I can tell you is that from that moment until today, I’ve devoted my time, my life to going everywhere possible to talk to anyone possible, people who want to listen – even to people who will not listen – to convey this very basic and very simple message, which says: we are not doomed, but we have to smash the forces that have an interest in keeping us silent.”
~ Colum McCann, Apeirogon


“An animated life, every day wildly busy, many people coming and going – something like a perpetually blazing fire called her. That world held no resignation or abandoned hopes, no complicated principles; it was insincere and all its inhabitants fickle, but in return, drink and laughter bubbled up lightheartedly. That world seen from here looked like the torchlight of dancers scorching the night sky on a hilltop beyond dark meadows.”
~ Yukio Mishima, After the Banquet


“The worst part was that, as the years passed, these memories became, in the way you kept them in a secret box in your head, taking them out every so often to turn them over and over, something like dear possessions. They were the key to your unhappiness. They were the evidence that life wasn’t fair. If you weren’t a lucky child, you didn’t know you weren’t lucky until you got older. And then it was all you ever thought about.”
~ Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot


“Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, if you can. Grief isn’t uniform. Everyone goes through it differently. I think people judge themselves for how they perform their grief, or don’t, and the thing is, it’s hard enough without adding guilt. If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re sad, be sad. If you’re giggling and euphoric for being alive, that’s okay too. And if you vacillate between those and a hundred other emotions? That’s okay. You’re allowed. And I’m here. And I love you.”
~ Ilana Masad, All My Mother’s Lovers


“Death cuts abruptly the warp of understanding. There are things which the survivors are never told. And the survivors have a steadily deepening suspicion that it is precisely because of the things incapable of communication that the deceased has chosen death. The factors that remain ill defined may sometimes lead a survivor to the very site of the disaster, but even then the only thing clear to anyone concerned is that he has been brought up against something incomprehensible”
~ Kenzaburō Ōe The Silent Cry


“I mean a man whose hopes and aims may sometimes lie (as most men’s sometimes do, I dare say) above the ordinary level, but to whom the ordinary level will be high enough after all if it should prove to be a way of usefulness and good service leading to no other. All generous spirits are ambitious, I suppose, but the ambition that calmly trusts itself to such a road, instead of spasmodically trying to fly over it, is of the kind I care for.” 
~ Charles Dickens, Bleak House


“What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.”
~ Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verse