Readers,

We have finally waved goodbye to 2021. After filling in 365 pages, a fresh set of 365 days has been provided to us. With the conclusion of a year is the commencement of a new one. 2021 was filled with uncertainties as the pandemic continued to wreak havoc across all parts of the world. The vaccination drive kicked off as well but the threat of the Omicron variant is about to reverse all the gains made. Nevertheless, hope still springs eternal despite the uncertainties that shroud the future.

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 of how the coming year is going to shape up. This book wrap-up is a part of a mini-series that will feature the following:

  1. 2021 Top Ten Not-So Favorite Reads
  2. 2021 Top Ten Favorite Books
  3. 2021 Book Wrap Up
  4. 2021 Most Memorable Book Quotes (Part I)
  5. 2021 Most Memorable Book Quotes (Part II)
  6. 2021 New Favorite Authors
  7. 2022 Books I Look Forward To List
  8. 2022 Top 22 Reading List

The past two years have been my busiest, as a reader. Perhaps aided by the lockdowns, I managed to complete 185 books; 2021 was just the third time I ended a reading year with at least 90 books. The 92 books I have read in 2021 were all wells of memorable and impressionable quotes, and passages. I have noted several quotes and it has been a challenge choosing the best ones. For the second year in a row, I decided to share more than the normal number I choose for this annual post. For my 2021 Most Memorable Quotes, I have picked a total of 40 quotes from various books, to be shared in two installments. Without further ado, here’s the first batch of my favorite quotes from my 2021 reads.


“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.”
~ Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country


“The sea is a memory. It is mesmerizing. Its beauty is intolerable. What it buries is vaster than what it reveals. Every so often you get a glimpse of what you forget, or you wade in and something snags you, a broken shell or a sea urchin the fishermen missed…No waves speak with the same voice, though they share the same elements and motion, the regular beating of the surf, their rippling heaves.”
~ Gina Apostol, Insurrecto


“The people who lived in the portal were often compared to those legendary experiment rats who kept hitting a button over and over to get a pellet. But at least the rats were getting a pellet, or the hope of a pellet, or the memory of a pellet. When we hit the button, all we were getting was to be more of a rat.”
~ Patricia Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This


“It was only when looking at a horizon that one’s eyes could move past all the obstacles that limited one’s vision to the present situation, that one’s eyes could range without limit to other times and other places, and perhaps this was all that freedom was, nothing more than the ability of the ciliary muscles in each eye—the finely calibrated muscles that contracted when focusing on objects close by and relaxed when focusing on objects far away—nothing more than the ability of these muscles to loosen and relax at will, allowing the things that existed in the distance, far beyond the place one actually was, to seem somehow within reach.”
~ Anuk Arudpragasam, A Passage North


“There are countries out there where people speak English. But not like us – we have our own languages hidden in our carry-on luggage, in our cosmetics bags, only ever using English when we travel, and then only in foreign countries, to foreign people. It’s hard to imagine, but English is the real language! Oftentimes their only language. They don’t have anything to fall back on or to turn to in moments of doubt. How lost they must feel in the world, where all instructions, all the lyrics of all the stupidest possible songs, all the menus, all the excruciating pamphlets and brochures – even the buttons in the lift! – are in their private language. They may be understood by anyone at any moment, whenever they open their mouths. They must have to write things down in special codes. Wherever they are, people have unlimited access to them – they are accessible to everyone and everything! I heard there are plans in the works to get them some little language of their own, one of those dead ones no one else is using anyway, just so that for once they can have something just for them.”
~ Olga Tokarczuk, Flights


“Language is a bountiful gift and its usage, an elaboration of community and society, is a sacred work. Language and usage evolve over time: elements change, are forgotten or reborn, and while there are instances where transgression can become the source of an even greater wealth, this does not alter the fact that to be entitled to the liberties of playfulness or enlightened misusage when using language, one must first and foremost have sworn one’s total allegiance. Society’s elect, those whom fate has spared from the servitude that is the lot of the poor, must, consequently, shoulder the double burden of worshipping and respecting the splendours of language.”
~ Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of a Hedgehog


“The internet is a fraud. It promises so much – that it will execute your every command, that it will find you what you’re looking for: execution, fulfillment, reward. But in essence, that promise is a kind of bait, because you immediately fall into a trance, into hypnosis. The paths quickly diverge, double and multiply, and you go down them, still chasing an aim that will now get blurry and undergo some transformations. You lose the ground beneath your feet, the place where you started from just gets forgotten, and your aim finally vanishes from sight, disappears in the passage of more and more pages, businesses that always promise more than they can give, shamelessly pretending that under the flat plane of the screen there is some cosmos.”
~ Olga Tokarczuk, Flights


“The face of “evil” is always the face of total need. A dope fiend is a man in total need of dope. Beyond a certain frequency need knows absolutely no limit or control. In the words of total need: “Wouldn’t you?” Yes you would. You would lie, cheat, inform on your friends, steal, do anything to satisfy total need. Because you would be in a state of total sickness, total possession, and not in a position to act in any other way. Dope fiends are sick people who cannot act other than they do. A rabid dog cannot choose but bite.”
~ William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch


“I may be simply repeating what has always been known, but I do believe that for love to grow there must first be the impact of novelty. Between two people who have always known each other, that necessary stimulus. can never be felt. Like the first whiff of burning incense, or like the taste of one’s first cup of saké, there is in love that moment when all its power is felt. There may be fondness, but not love, between two people who have come to know each other well without ever having grasped that moment.”
~Sōseki Natsume, Kokoro


“By comprehending darkness. Like most people, you don’t understand unity. Comprehend darkness. This is the foundation. Don’t become light. That’s a one-way transformation. Look at your friend, she wanted to become a tree, and she did. It wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would be. Unfortunately she didn’t become human, she became a tree. Now she can start over so that she can become somewhat human after billions of years. Seek darkness, seek in the darkness, in the beginning, in the depths, in the depths of the depths where you will find light at the zenith, in yourself, by yourself. That is becoming human, go and become human!”
~ Shahrnush Parsipur, Women Without Men


“For pomp is a tenacious force. And a wily one too. How humbly it bows its head as the emperor is dragged down the steps and tossed in the street. But then, having quietly bided its time, while helping the newly appointed leader on with his jacket, it compliments his appearance and suggests the wearing of a medal or two. Or, having served him at a formal dinner, it wonders aloud if a taller chair might not have been fitting for a man with such responsibilities. The soldiers of the common man may toss the banners of the old regime on the victory pyre, but soon enough trumpets will blare and pomp will take its place at the side of the throne, having once again secured its dominion over history and kings.”
~ Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow


“The strongest athlete isn’t the one who finishes first. That athlete is the fastest. The strongest athlete is the one who gets up again every time he falls, the one who doesn’t stop when he feels a pain in his side, the one who doesn’t abandon the race, no matter how far away the finish line is. That runner is a winner whenever he reaches the finish line, even if he comes in last. Sometimes, no matter how much you want it, being the fastest isn’t an option, because your legs aren’t as long or your lungs as large. But you can always choose to be the strongest. It’s up to you – your willpower and your effort.”
~ Antonio Iturbe, The Librarian of Auschwitz


“Look at them leaving in droves despite knowing they will be welcomed with restraint in those strange lands because they do not belong, knowing they will have to sit on one buttock because they must not sit comfortable lest they be asked to rise and leave, knowing they will speak in dampened whispers because they must not let their voices drown those of the owners of the land, knowing they will have to walk on their toes because they must not leave footprints on the new earth lest they be mistaken for those who want to claim the land as theirs. Look at them leaving in droves, arm in arm with loss and lost, look at them leaving in droves.”
~ NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names


“If you’re telling a non-black person about something racist that happened to you, make sure you are not bitter. Don’t complain. Be forgiving. If possible, make it funny. Most of all, do not be angry. Black people are not supposed to be angry about racism. Otherwise, you get no sympathy. This applies only for white liberals, by the way. Don’t even bother telling a white conservative about anything racist that happened to you. Because the conservative will tell you that YOU are the real racist and your mouth will hang open in confusion.”
~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah


“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi


“There is something wonderful about a death, how everything shuts down, and all the ways you thought you were vital are not even vaguely important. Your husband can feed the kids, he can work the new oven, he can find the sausages in the fridge, after all. And his important meeting was not important, not in the slightest. And the girls will be picked up from school, and dropped off again in the morning. Your eldest daughter can remember her inhaler, and your youngest will take her gym kit with her, and it is just as you suspected – most of the stuff that you do is just stupid, really stupid, most of the stuff you do is just nagging and whining and picking up for people who are too lazy to love you.”
~ Anne Enright, The Gathering


“Never, not even in death. I am a prisoner of my own flesh and blood. Is it such an enviable position? The man make it look as if we must aspire for children or die. That’s why when I lost my first son I wanted to die, because I failed to live up to the standard expected of me by the males in my life, my father, my husband – and now I have to include my sons. But who made the law that we should not hope in our daughters? We women subscribe to that law more than anyone. Until we change all this, t is still a man’s world, which women will always help to build.”
~ Buchi Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood


“In a brief moment of lucidity, I was sure that we’d all gone crazy. But then that moment of lucidity was displaced by a supersecond of superlucidity (if I can put it that way), in which I realized that this scene was the logical outcome of our ridiculous lives. It wasn’t a punishment but a new wrinkle. It gave us a glimpse of ourselves in our common humanity. It wasn’t proof of our idle guilt but a sign of our miraculous and pointless innocence. But that’s not it. That’s not it. We were still and they were in motion and the sand on the beach was moving, not because of the wind but because of what they were doing and what we were doing, which was nothing, which was watching, and all of that together was the wrinkle, the moment of superlucidity. Then, nothing.”
~  Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives


“She knew through what fires the soul must crawl, and with what weeping one passed over. Men spoke of how the heart broke up, but never spoke of how the soul hung speechless in the pause, the void, the terror between the living and the dead; how, all garments rent and cast aside, the naked soul passed over the very mouth of Hell. Once there, there was no turning back; once there, the soul remembered, though the heart sometimes forgot. For the world called to the heart, which stammered to reply; life, and love, and revelry, and most falsely, hope, called the forgetful, the human heart. Only the soul, obsessed with the journey it had made, and had still to make, pursued its mysterious and dreadful end; and carried heavy with weeping and bitterness the heart along.”
~ James Baldwin, Go Tell It On The Mountain


“The love, born of beauty was not mine; I had nothing in common with it: I could not dare to meddle with it, but another love, venturing diffidently into life after long acquaintance, furnace-tried by pain, stamped by constancy, consolidated by affection’s pure and durable alloy, submitted by intellect to intellect’s own tests, and finally wrought up, by his own process, to his own unflawed completeness, this Love that laughed at Passion, his fast frenzies and his hot and hurried extinction, in this Love I had a vested interest; and whatever tended either to its culture or its destruction, I could not view impassibly.”
~ Charlotte Brontë, Villette