“On a typical Thursday afternoon, before the crisis, before the collapse, before hyperinflation, before the bottom dropped out from under the price of oil, before the bolivar was worthless, before your whole monthly salary went to buy a chicken and then just half a chicken and then some chicken parts, before cash disappeared, before everyone left, before the refugees, before doctors and nurses and engineers and managers and workers with skills and time on the job started leaving the country, before the stampede to the exits, before all of that; simply put, before—on a typical Thursday afternoon there would have been three or four operators watching the computer screens in the central control in Caracas that monitored the electrical grid for all of Venezuela.” William Neumann, Things Are Never So Bad They Can’t Get Worse: Inside the Collapse of Venezuela.

“It’s hard to know, ever, where a story begins.” Jennifer Haigh, Mercy Street.

“Seventeen seventy-six was a year of momentous events, not just in retrospect but in the eyes of those who lived through them.” Benjamin M. Friedman, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism.

“In early times, say the Icelandic chronicles, men from the Western Islands came to live in this country, and when they departed, left behind them crosses, bells, and other objects used in the practice of sorcery.” Halldór Laxness, Independent People.

“In Iceland, it’s considered bad luck to start a new job on a Monday.” Eliza Reid, Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland’s Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World.

“She hears him long before she sees him.” Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, The Creak on the Stairs.

“Rose was in existential distress that fateful winter when her would-be earthly master, Robert Martin, passed away.” Tiya Miles, All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake.

“It is never easy to move to a new country, but in truth I was happy to be away from New York.” Katie Kitamura, Intimacies.

“In 1799, the year of the Rosetta Stone’s discovery, Egypt was a sweltering, impoverished back water.” Edward Dolnick, The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone.

“The red stain was like a scream in the silence.” Ragnar Jónasson, Snowblind. (translated by Quentin Bates.)

“John Kieran created the public Moe Berg.” Nicholas Dawidoff, The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg.

“There was a time, it says in books, that the Icelandic people had only one national treasure: a bell.” Halldór Laxness, Iceland’s Bell.

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