“Whenever I think of my mother, I picture a queen-sized bed with her lying on it, a practiced stillness filling the room.” Yaa Gyasi, Transcendent Kingdom.

“I underwent, during that summer that I became fourteen, a prolonged religious crisis.” James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time.

“Darkness came on that town like a candle being snuffed.” Jess Walter, The Cold Millions.

“I’m eight years old.” Vivian Gornick, Fierce Attachments.

“The first time they drove by the house Eddie was so scared he ducked his head down.” Delores Hitchens, Fools’ Gold.

“There is a hidden world of design all around you if you look closely enough, but the cacophony of visual noise in our cities can make it hard to notice the key details.” Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt, The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design.

“Su Alteza Isabel II, Reina de España, carried ten relics on her person during her last few weeks of pregnancy.” Chantel Acevedo, The Living Infinite.

“The classical world was far closer to the makers of the American Revolution and the founders of the United States than it is to us today.” Thomas E. Ricks, First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped our Country (2020).

“This is the saddest story I have ever heard.” Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier.

“I am writing a book about war . . .” Svetlana Alexievich, The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II.

“My name, in those days, was Susan Trinder.” Sarah Waters, Fingersmith.

“The cocktails were typically strong, and tonight they felt like fortification.” Jeff Shesol, Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court.

“Ever since you were a boy, you’ve dreamt of being Kung Fu Guy.” Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown.

“Had she grown up in any other part of America, Jennifer Doudna might have felt like a regular kid.” Walter Isaacson, Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race.

“It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it.” Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence.

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