In the order I finished them. A few of these were rereads. Starred are my favorites.
  1. The High Window by Raymond Chandler
    "She had eyes like strange sins."
  2. The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum
    "Life is mostly an exercise in being something other than what we used to be while remaining fundamentally--and sometimes maddeningly--who we are." (from the essay "Not What It Used To Be")
  3. Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
    "Elaine's theory is that he chose Joan almost arbitrarily: he needed to fixate on one person, like isolating a star to navigate by, even if the star is not the destination."
  4. 🌟 The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carré
    "It is said that men condemned to death are subject to sudden moments of elation; as if, like moths in the fire, their destruction were coincidental with attainment."
  5. Cathedral by Raymond Carver
    "That part's called the bit...The rider pulls the reins this way and that, and the horse turns. It's simple. The bit's heavy and cold. If you had to wear this thing between your teeth, I'd guess you'd catch on in a hurry. When you felt it pull, you'd know it was time. You'd know you where going somewhere." (from the story "The Bridle")
  6. 🌟 The Boys of My Youth
    "He smiles...and then retreats into the rest of the house, which is structurally unsound but fixable, just like you." (from the essay "Against the Grain")
  7. 🌟The White Album by Joan Didion
    "We tell ourselves stories in order to live." (From the title essay)
  8. Run River by Joan Didion
    "She did not know what she could tell anyone except that he had been a good man. She was not certain that he had been but it was what she would have wished for him, if they gave her one wish."
  9. Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
    "Fuck it, I said to Helene. Fuck it, I said to them all, a radical surgeon of my own life. Never discuss. Cut. In that way I resemble the only man in Los Angeles County who does clean work."
  10. 🌟 After Henry by Joan Didion
    "I suppose that what I really wanted to say that day at my daughter's school is that we never reach a point at which our lives lie before us as a clearly marked open road, never have and never should expect a map to the years ahead, never do close those circles that seem, at thirteen and fourteen and nineteen, so urgently in need of closing." (from the essay "Pacific Distances")
  11. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
    "To live without self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk, phenobarbital, and the sleeping hand on the coverlet...However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves." (From the essay "On Self-Respect)
  12. Political Fictions by Joan Didion
    "[Reagan] was a President who understood viscerally--as the young colonel also understood--that what makes a successful motion picture is exactly a foolish enterprise, a lonely quest, a lost cause, a fight against the odds: undertaken, against the best advice of those who say it cannot be done, by someone America can root for." (from the essay "The West Wing of Oz")
  13. Miami by Joan Didion
    "Miami was a city, like so many to the south of it, in which it was possible to pass from walled enclaves to utter desolation while changing stations on the car radio."
  14. Salvador by Joan Didion
    "I did not forget the sensation of having been in a single instant demoralized, undone, humiliated by fear, which is what I meant when I said that I came to understand in El Salvador the mechanism of terror."
  15. 🌟Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
    "After a little while I felt a little better, but very little. I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat, and a gun. I put them on and went out the room."
  16. My Salinger Year by Joanna Smith Rakoff
    "He had entered my life as a gale force, making me question all the small assumptions I'd held to be true without ever quite knowing it. That it was important to pay one's taxes and sleep eight hours each night and fold one's sweaters with tissues."
  17. 🌟 The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits
    "To be melancholy is to be self-haunted, and among the many reasons this is an unsatisfactory explanation for living inside a jam jar inside an aquarium, foremost among them is that there are no good stories to tell of your bleak time in a beautiful place, and no specter to blame for the fact that happiness, though it should have been inescapable, evaded you."
  18. Bluets by Maggie Nelson
    "'One thing they don't tell you 'bout the blues when you got 'em, you keep on fallin' 'cause there ain't no bottom,' sings Emmylou Harris, and she may be right. Perhaps it would help to be told that there is no bottom, save, as they say, wherever and whenever you stop digging. You have to stand there, spade in hand, cold whiskey sweat beaded on your brow...You have to stand there in the dirty rug you dug, alone in the darkness, in all its pulsing quiet, surrounded by the scandal of corpses."
  19. After Birth by Elisa Albert
    "Here is a little secret about grief, catastrophe, loss, suffering: you are exactly the same after as before. Only more so."
  20. Palace of Illusions by Kim Addonizio
    "He smiles; he has big beautiful teeth, perfectly even and white, like tablets you could write your autobiography on, if you could write small enough, and just like that, the next seven months of your life go down the drain." (from the story "Blown")
  21. 🌟Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
    "That night on TV, I saw the tattoo I wished my life had warranted. 'If you have not known suffering, love me.' A Russian murderer beat me to it."
  22. Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey
    "...I felt that able-to-weep-and-be-seen version of myself that I'd been with Ruth hardening again, like warm caramel left to cool."
  23. Valley Fever by Katherine Taylor
    "Feeling responsible for something, having people rely on you, was a very good remedy for all sorts of pain."
  24. The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
    "Bye-bye Betty, Beth, Betsy, Liz, we were a couple of tramps, too bad we didn't meet before 39th and Norton, it just might have worked, maybe us would've been the one thing we wouldn't have fucked up past redemption..."
  25. 🌟 Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill
    "She remembered what her father had said to her during an argument when she was fifteen years old: 'You want to suck people dry, you expect them to pour their guts to you and you to them over and over and over until you know everything, and it just doesn't work that way. Relationships are built from 'Hi, how are you doing?' and 'I'm fine.' He had said this last word like a stake was being driven through his heart." (from the story "Connection")
  26. The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
    "She looked playful and eager, but not quite sure of herself, like a new kitten in a house where they don't much care about kittens."
  27. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
    "But she made a promise that he would never know the scope of her darkness, that she would never show him the evil that lived in her, that he would know of her only a great love and light. And she wanted to believe that their whole life together he did."
  28. 🌟 Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
    "Your creative work is not your baby; if anything, you are its baby. Everything I have ever written has brought me into being."
  29. My First Five Husbands by Rue McClanahan
    "There are two things to aim for in life: First, get what you want. Then, enjoy it."
  30. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
    "It is hard to laugh at the need for beauty and romance, no matter how tasteless, even horrible, the results of that are. But it is easy to sigh. Few things are sadder than the truly monstrous."
  31. The M Train by Patti Smith
    "Through it all we held fast to the concept of the clock with no hands. Tasks were completed, sump pumps manned, sandbags piled, trees planted, shirts ironed, hems stitched, and yet we reserved the right to ignore the hands that kept on turning. Looking back, long after his death, our way of living seems a miracle, one that could be achieved by the silent synchronization of the jewels and gears of a common mind."
  32. 🌟 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
    "You can't keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair." (I reread this, my favorite book from childhood, over Thanksgiving. It was sort of magical to reread it as a grown-up and see all the ways my views of the world and the text have changed, and the more ways they haven't)
  33. 🌟 All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    "This, she realizes, is the basis of his fear, all fear. That a light you are powerless to stop will turn on you and usher a bullet to its mark."
  34. The Clasp by Sloane Crosley
    "Nathaniel could store up hookups like a woodland creature shoving nuts into his cheeks. Except the other way around."
  35. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
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    "It struck me that perhaps the defining feature of being drafted into the black race was the inescapable robbery of time..." (I'm a very messy underliner)
  36. Last Night by James Salter
    "She remembered the beer bottles rolling around in the back of the car when she was fifteen and he was making love to her every morning and she did not know if she was beginning life or throwing it away, but she loved him and would never forget." (from the story "Eyes of the Stars")
  37. Negroland by Margo Jefferson
    "Being an Other, in America, teaches you to imagine what can't imagine you."
  38. Meet Me in Atlantis by Mark Adams
    "'See, in the end nature erases everything,' Galán said, holding his scarf over his mouth. 'I think that's the real story of Atlantis. No matter how big and powerful you get, you can disappear like that.'"
  39. The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler
    "Good night, amigo. I wear black because I am beautiful and wicked--and lost." - Dolores Gonzales
  40. 🌟Because They Wanted To by Mary Gaitskill
    "It was hard to identify the moment when talking to her began to make his life seem like a crushed ball of aluminum in an empty can."
  41. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
    "Most people go through life using up half their energy trying to protect a dignity they never had."