Design

What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You’ve Ever Read?

woman-reading-in-bed-by-richard-foulser

In May, Reddit asked, “What’s the most beautiful paragraph or sentence you’ve ever read?” Such a good question! I’ve been mulling it over in my head ever since. Here are a few of my best-loved lines, and I’m curious to hear yours…


“She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
—J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew

“In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all of its moments — which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story.”
— Atul Gawande, Being Mortal

“ ‘Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.”
— A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”
― Tina Fey, Bossypants

“There are many different kinds of bravery. There’s the bravery of thinking of others before one’s self. Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor fired a pistol, thank heavens. But he has made many sacrifices for his family, and put away many dreams.”

“Where did he put them?”

“He put them in a drawer. And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them. But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer… He does. And that is why he is brave.”
— Conversation between Mrs. Darling and Michael, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

“Three things no one has ever said about me:
You make it look so easy.
You are very mysterious.
You need to take yourself more seriously.”
― Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation

“Maybe… you’ll fall in love with me all over again.”
“Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?”
“Yes. I want to ruin you.”
“Good,” I said. “That’s what I want too.”
— Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Plus, nine poems that make me tear up.

What about you? If you have a minute to share your favorite line, poem or book, I’d love to hear…

P.S. Caroline’s five favorite books, and wise words.

(Top photo by Richard Foulser; Peter Pan quote via Momfilter. Reddit thread via Kottke)

  1. Christine says...

    When I’m spending time with my daughter, I often remember a passage from an essay by Paul Kalanithi:

    “When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.”

  2. Dorothy DeMaria says...

    And so they beat on, boats against the current, Bourne back ceaselessly into their past
    The Great Gatsby (last line)

  3. Jamie says...

    “You all righ’?” he said gruffly. “Yeah,” said Harry. “No, yeh’re not,” said Hagrid. “’Course yeh’re not. But yeh will be.”

    “No good sittin’ worryin’ abou’ it. What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.”

    -Harry Potter

  4. “I’m writing this in part to tell you that if you ever wonder what you’ve done in your life, and everyone does wonder sooner or later, you have been God’s grace to me, a miracle, something more than a miracle. You may not remember me very well at all, and it may seem to you to be no great thing to have been the good child of an old man in a shabby little town you will no doubt leave behind. If only I had the words to tell you.”
    ― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

  5. Courtney says...

    I loved this description of marriage in Anne’s House of Dreams (right as Anne and Gilbert are about to get married):

    “They belonged to each other; and, no matter what life might hold for them, it could never alter that. Their happiness was in each other’s keeping and both were unafraid.”

    Such a beautiful sentiment.

  6. We had Elizabeth Alexander’s Praise Song for the Day read at our recent wedding. Alexander wrote it for Barack Obama’s Inauguration and it perfectly captures the the power and grit of love. My favorite line reads, “We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of some one and then others, who said I need to see what’s on the other side.”

  7. Silvie says...

    My 8 year old (very sensitive) boy wrote in Literacy Class:
    “Under the very rough waves, I swam into another world”
    This brought tears to my eyes…By the way he is German at a British School

    • kaela says...

      I can’t get over this. It’s so beautiful and moving. Sounds like a little boy with an old soul. Thanks for sharing. xoxo