A living, breathing list of my favorite sentences and passages from every book I've ever read.

Written by Cole Schafer

I read a lot. Like, a lot, a lot.

In part, because I adore reading, it’s a lovely way to learn, to explore and to get lost for an afternoon.

But, in addition to this, reading and writing go hand in hand.

Reading good writers makes writers better writers. In fact, I’d argue it’s nearly impossible to become a great or even a good writer if you’re not willing to set aside some time each day to read.

For writers, reading is like honey –– it’s impossible to touch without walking away with some of its stickiness stuck to you and your pen.

At Honey Copy, my creative writing shop that grows brands with pretty words, I put to paper somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 words each week.

The only way to keep my pen full of ink is to read. Period.

Now, in addition to just writers, I think the same goes for marketers, entrepreneurs, snow cone vendors and really anyone who makes a living creatively.

Reading gifts us ideas, it enhances creativity, it sharpens critical thinking, it lowers anxiety and it teaches us things we previously did not know.

Bottom line –– read.

The list you’ll find below is not finished. It will never be finished.

It’s a living breathing list of the best books I’ve ever read summed up in one sentence. My favorite sentence I read in the book.

Unlike other lists littering the internet, you won’t strictly find best-selling business books on mine.

You will, however, find books about poetry, writing, creativity, the Hell’s Angels, some of the greatest people who have ever lived and, yes, the occasional one about business.

Regardless, most (if not all) of the books on this list have lessons that can be applied to life, love, creativity and doing work that matters. Both myself and Honey Copy are a living breathing culmination of these books. Enjoy.

My favorite lines and passages

Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs.

By Henry Carroll

"The magic of photography, the bit that can’t be explained, is you."

Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.

By Hunter S. Thompson

"The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over."

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

By Stephen King

"Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings."

Citizen Illegal.

By Jose Olivarez

"My mom still loved me so I invented her sadness and asked her to hold it like a bouquet of fake flowers."

A Monster Calls.

By Patrick Ness.

"I don’t want you to go."

Hidden Water.

By Frank Stanford

"He was crazy, he was a dreamer, lovely and dark, like a chinaberry tree, a pond, a stump with a jar of lightning."

This Boy’s Life: A Memoir.

By Tobias Wolff

"It was like fishing a swamp, where you feel the tug of something that at first seems promising and then resistant and finally hopeless as you realize that you've snagged the bottom, that you have the whole planet on the other end of your line."

Ogilvy on Advertising.

By David Ogilvy

"It isn’t the whiskey they choose, it’s the image."

Insomniac City.

By Billy Hayes

"In the middle of the night: 'Wouldn't it be nice if we could dream together?' Oliver whispers."

The War of Art.

By Steven Pressfield

"It’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot."

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

By Al Ries & Jack Trout

"Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products."

Gates of Fire.

By Steven Pressfield

"Nothing fires the warrior’s heart more with courage than to find himself and his comrades at the point of annihilation, at the brink of being routed and overrun, and then to dredge not merely from one’s own bowels or guts but from one’s discipline and training the presence of mind not to panic, not to yield to the possession of despair, but instead to complete those homely acts of order which Dienekes had ever declared the supreme accomplishment of the warrior: to perform the commonplace under far-from-commonplace conditions."

Bird By Bird.

By Anne Lamott

"It's not unlike finding a mate, where little by little you begin to feel that you've stepped into a shape that was waiting there all along."

She Comes First.

By William Morrow

"The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug."

The Laws of the Skies.

By Courtois Gregoire

"You don’t learn to fly, you are either made to fly or you aren’t."


by Daniel Pink

"Breaks are not a sign of sloth but a sign of strength."

Ham on Rye.

By Charles Bukowski

"They were beautiful nothings."

Post Office.

By Charles Bukowski

"I wanted the whole world or nothing."

Hegarty on Advertising.

By Thames & Hudson

"If I want to make you think I’m funny, I don’t tell you I’m really funny; I tell you a joke."

Like shaking hands with God.

By Kurt Vonnegut & Lee Stringer

"I went to a good high school, and everything was noise after that."


By Bobby Hall

"The blood from his lips stained the butt of the cigarette, like a single mother driving an Astro van in the early 1990s, picking up her fifth grade son from soccer practice with that poofy hair and shoulder-pad look, you know the one."

Kitchen Confidential.

By Anthony Bourdain

"And with every dime you’ve got tied up in your new place suddenly the drains in your prep kitchen are backing up with raw sewage, pushing hundreds of gallons of impacted crap into your dining room; your coke-addled chef just called that Asian waitress who’s working her way through law school a chink, which ensures your presence in court for the next six months; your bartender is giving the bar to underage girls from Wantagh, any one of which could then crash Daddy’s Buick into a busload of divinity students, putting your liquor license in peril, to say the least; the ANSUL System could go off, shutting down your kitchen in the middle of a ten-thousand-dollar night; there’s the ongoing struggle with rodents and cockroaches, any one of which could crawl across the Tina Brown four-top in the middle of the dessert course; you just bought ten thousand dollars worth of shrimp when the market was low, but the walk-in freezer just went on the fritz and naturally it’s a holiday weekend, so good luck getting a service call in time; the dishwasher just walked out after arguing with the busboy, and they need glasses now on table seven; immigration is at the door for a surprise inspection of your kitchen’s green cards; the produce guy wants a certified check or he’s taking back the delivery; you didn’t order enough napkins for the weekend––and is that New York Times reviewer waiting for your hostess to stop flirting and notice her?"

Love Looks Pretty on You.

By Lang Leav

"You turn him into poetry because you can’t have him any other way."

Sea of Strangers.

By Lang Leav

"It should be my right to mourn someone that has yet to leave this world but no longer wants to be part of mine."

Shoe Dog.

By Phil Knight

"I believed that if people got out and ran a few miles every day, the world would be a better place, and I believed these shoes were better to run in."

On Drinking.

By Charles Bukowski

"Some people never go crazy, what truly horrible lives they must live."

Anything you want.

By Derek Sivers

"It’s counterintuitive, but the way you grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers––just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone."

The Baron in the trees.

By Italo Calvino

"Maybe there was a tree so high that if he climbed it he would touch another world, the moon."

One Minute, Please?

By Cole Schafer

"I’ve grown to love the cracks in my porcelain."


By V.E. Schwab

"It was like watching two people, one hiding in the other’s skin."


By Jason Friend & David Heinemeier Hansson

"They say you can’t succeed by building products that do less than your competition’s."

The fish that ate the whale: The life and times of America’s Banana King.

By Rich Cohen

"There are times when certain cards sit unclaimed in the common pile, when certain properties become available that will never be available again, a good businessman feels these moments like a fall in the barometric pressure, a great businessman is dumb enough to act on them even when he cannot afford to."

A moveable feast.

By Ernest Hemingway

"The story was writing itself and I was having a hard time keeping up with it."

Pity the reader: On writing with style.

By Kurt Vonnegut

"The most dangerous thing they found on his person was a two-inch pencil stub."


By Neil Gaiman

"So the day became of waiting, which was, he knew, a sin: moments were to be experienced; waiting was a sin against both the time that was still to come and against the moments one was currently disregarding."

The Song of Achilles.

By Madeline Miller

"He smiled at me and I saw the lines where other smiles had been."

The Afghan Campaign.

By Steven Pressfield

"You’re wondering what a soldier is, aren’t you?… We’re mules lad. Mules that kill."

Call me Ted.

By Ted Turned and Bill Burke

"When I suffer a setback, I don’t think of myself as losing, I’m simply learning how to win."

Leonardo Da Vinci.

By Walter Isaacson

"He never finished any of the works he began because sublime was his idea of art, he saw faults even in the things that to others seemed miracles."

Ant Farm.

By Simon Rich

"We always end up hitting glass."

Dune Messiah.

By Frank Herbert

"I told him that to endure oneself may be the hardest task in the universe."

City of Thieves.

By David Benioff

"The loneliest sound in the world is other people making love."


By Thomas Kemeny

"Look at any taglines you write. Would you hang your empire on it?"

The Forged Coupon.

By Leo Tolstoy

"I expect books have given you the idea that your reward for it all will be in the next world."


By Charles Bukowski

"I was sentimental about many things: a woman’s shoes under the bed; one hairpin left behind on the dresser; the way they said, 'I’m going to pee.' hair ribbons; walking down the boulevard with them at 1:30 in the afternoon, just two people walking together; the long nights of drinking and smoking; talking; the arguments; thinking of suicide; eating together and feeling good; the jokes; the laughter out of nowhere; feeling miracles in the air; being in a parked car together; comparing past loves at 3am; being told you snore; hearing her snore; mothers, daughters, sons, cats, dogs; sometimes death and sometimes divorce; but always carrying on, always seeing it through; reading a newspaper alone in a sandwich joint and feeling nausea because she’s now married to a dentist with an I.Q. of 95; racetracks, parks, park picnics; even jails; her dull friends; your dull friends; your drinking, her dancing; your flirting, her flirting; her pills, your fucking on the side and her doing the same; sleeping together."

When Breath Becomes Air.

By Paul Kalanithi

"At home in bed a few weeks before he died, I asked him, “Can you breathe okay with my head on your chest like this?” His answer was “It’s the only way I know how to breathe."

The Virtues of War.

By Steven Pressfield

"Why does Zeus send prodigies to Earth? For the same reason he makes a comet streak across the sky. To show not what has been done, but what can be."

Love is a dog from hell.

By Charles Bukowski

"When I think of her life and compare it to other lives more dazzling, original and beautiful I realized that she has hurt fewer people than anybody I know (and by hurt I simply mean hurt). She has had some terrible times, times when maybe I should have helped her more for she is the mother of my only child and we were once great lovers, but she has come through, like I said, she has hurt fewer people than anybody I know, and if you look at it like that, well, she has created a better world. She has won. Frances, this poem is for you."

Growth Hacker Marketing.

By Ryan Holiday

"Half the t-shirts I workout in are for companies that never made it off the ground."

The Writing Life.

By Annie Dillard

"I always want to paint, too, after I see the Rembrandts."

Zen in Art of Writing.

By Ray Bradbury

"Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers."

The Catcher in the Rye.

By J.D. Salinger

"Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

A Farewell to Arms.

By Ernest Hemingway

"And, you’ll always love me, won’t you?
And, the rain won’t make any difference?

The Pearl.

By John Steinbeck

"It is not good to want a thing too much. It sometimes drives the luck away. You must want it just enough, and you must be very tactful with God or the gods."

The Moon Is Down.

By John Steinbeck

"They hurry toward their destiny as though it would not wait."


By Rory Sutherland

"If we all the world to be run by logical people, we will only discover logical things."

Travels with Charley.

By John Steinbeck

"We find after years of struggled that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."

A Sport and a Pastime.

By James Salter

" Turn out the light she says. He does. Like Lucifer, he creates darkness and he descends."

Do the work.

By Steven Pressfield

"When we experience panic, it means that we are about to cross a threshold. We’re poised on the doorstep of a higher plane."

Confessions of an Advertising Man.

By David Ogilvy

"Men don’t like the same kind of girls that girls like."

Invisible Monsters.

By Chuck Palahniuk

"She’d wear shades of lipstick you’d expect to see around the base of a penis."

Copywrong to copywriter.

By Tait Ischia

"Good copywriting is about what’s heard as well as what’s said. It’s your job to be able to hear the words you write the way your audience will hear them."

Jesus’ Son.

By Denis Johnson

"The sky was a bruised red shot with black, almost exactly the colors of a tattoo. Sunset had two minutes left to live."


By Charles Bukowski

"Cheer up. Maybe you’ll be famous after you're dead."

Tides of War.

Steven Pressfield

"The days of gods and heroes are over."

Consider This.

By Chuck Palahniuk

"Perhaps this is why people dream of traveling a lot at retirement. Seeing the world and recognizing one’s own insignificance makes it okay to come home and die."


By James Salter

"She was like a huge dog, leaping from his arms."

I would leave me if I could.

By Halsey

"A beautiful woman is a car crash."

No one is too small to make a difference.

By Greta Thunberg

"Our house is on fire. I’m here to say, our house is on fire."

How to get rich.

By Felix Dennis

"But with every passing year, it all feels more like it happened to someone else."

Still life with woodpecker.

By Tom Robbins

"A better world has gotta start somewhere. Why not with you and me?"

If Beale Street Could Talk.

By James Baldwin

"It was like nothing was happening in the world but us."

Ask The Dust.

By John Fante

"But he’s dying."
"Who isn’t."

This Is Not my Memoir.

By André Gregory and Todd London

"Might this be part of the task of being human: to keep working on oneself, to go higher on the ladder so your life can be more like a work of art itself?"

Pappyland: A story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last.

By Wright Thompson

"More and more today, we don’t want to do the work or take the chances required for greatness, and we try to fix all those shortcuts on the back end with marketing and branding––modern, fancy words that mean lie."


By Nora Ephron

"One thing I have never understood is how to work it so that when you’re married, things keep happening to you. Things happen to you when you’re single. You meet new men, you travel alone, you learn new tricks, you read Trollope, you try sushi, you buy nightgowns, you shave your legs. Then you get married, and the hair grows in. I love the everydayness of marriage, I love figuring out what’s for dinner and where to hang the pictures and do we owe the Richardsons, but life does tend to slow to a crawl."

Breakfast of Champions.

By Kurt Vonnegut

"I couldn’t help wondering if that was what God put me on Earth for––to find out how much a man could take without breaking."


By Elmore Leonard

"She snuggled against him, closing her eyes. ‘God, I get tired. The same thing all the time. Sometimes my face aches from smiling when I don’t even want to."

Train Dreams.

By Denis Johnson

"Cut off from anything else that might trouble them, the gang, numbering sometimes more than forty and never fewer than thirty-five men, fought the forest from sunrise until suppertime, felling and bucking the giant spruce into pieces of a barely manageable size, accomplishing labors, Granier sometimes thought, tantamount to the pyramids, changing the face of the mountainsides, talking little, shouting their communications, living with the sticky fell of pitch in their beards, sweat washing the dust off their long johns and caking it in the creases of their necks and joints, the odor of pitch so thick it abraded their throats and stung their eyes, and even overlaid the stink of beasts and manure."

Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir.

Anatole Broyard

"There was another obstacle, too: I was just learning how to write, I turned everything into literature, and this was something no affair could survive."

I feel bad about my neck.

By Nora Ephron

"I wonder if I’m going to end up being one of those people you read about in newspapers, who lives in New York and never meets anyone and eventually dies and no one even notices until days later, when the smell drifts out into the hallway."

The Postman always rings twice.

By James Cain

"Except for the shape, she really wasn’t any raving beauty, but she had a sulky look to her, and her lips stuck out in a way that made me want to mash them in for her."

Bonjour Tristesse.

By Françoise Sagan

"I bit the orange and let its sweet juice run into my mouth, then took a gulp of scalding black coffee and went back to the orange."

Fat City.

By Leonard Gardner

"In the midst of a phantasmagoria of worn-out, mangled faces, scarred cheeks and necks, twisted, pocked, crushed and bloated noses, missing teeth, brown snags, empty gums, stubble beards, pitcher lips, flop ears, sores, scabs, dribbled tobacco juice, stooped shoulders, split brows, weary, desperate, stupefied eyes under the lights of Center Street, Tully saw a familiar young man with a broken nose."

Aimless Love.

By Billy Collins

"I want to carry you and for you to carry me the way voices are said to carry over water."

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.

By Charles Bukowski

"In the sun and in the rain, and in the day and in the night, pain is a flower, pain is flowers, blooming all the time."

On Earth we’re briefly gorgeous.

By Ocean Vuong

"The Greeks thought sex was the attempt of two bodies, separated long ago, to return to one life."

The Flame.

By Leonard Cohen

"I was always working steady but I never called it art."

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant.

By Eric Jorgenson

"Karma is just you, repeating your patterns, virtues, and flaws until you finally get what you deserve."

The Sojourn.

Andrew Krivak

"They say the earth is a soldier’s mother when the shells begin to fall, and she is, at first, your instinct is not to run, but to dig and hold and hug as much of that Earth as you possibly can, down, down, down into the dirt, with your fingertips, hands, arms, chest, thighs, and feet, until you are like a child clinging with his entire body to comfort after a nightmare."

The Stepford Wives.

Ira Levin

"They never stop, these Stepford Wives."

What I talk about when I talk about running.

Haruki Murakami

"When people pass away, do their thoughts just vanish?"

Nothing Personal.

By James Baldwin

"One has to look on oneself as the custodian of a quantity and a quality––oneself––which is absolutely unique in the world because it has never been here before and will never be here again."

The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

By Neil Gaiman

"A story only matters, I suspect, to the extent that the people in the story change."

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

By Eric Jorgenson

"The people who have the ability to fail in public under their own names actually gain a lot of power."


By Jessica Abughattas

"Anything I keep for beauty is destined to fall apart."

The Last Interview: Hunter S. Thompson

By David Streitfeld

"I haven’t found a drug yet that can get you anywhere near as high sitting at a desk writing, trying to imagine a story no matter how bizarre it is."

The Last Interview: Ernest Hemingway.

By Melville House Publishing

"The better the writers, the less they will speak about what they have written themselves."

With Hemingway: A Year In Key West And Cuba.

By Arnold Samuelson

"Archie can write poetry," Ernest told me, "but poetry is easy. If a poet hits it lucky, he can write two lines and live forever. What is hard is prose."

The Liars’ Club.

by Mary Kerr

"Sure the world breeds monsters, but kindness grows just as wild, elsewise every raped baby would grow up to rape."

The Last Interview: Anthony Bourdain.

By Melville House Publishing

"And I always try and find a way to like the bad guy a little bit."

The Last Interview: David Bowie.

By Melville House Publishing

"Whether it’s late or not doesn’t matter because it’s honest and anything honest when it comes out means something."

A Psalm For The Wild.

By Beck Chambers

"You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it."

Stories I tell myself: Growing up with Hunter S. Thompson

By Juan F. Thompson

"After I had graduated from college, he said the only reason to attend college was to have four years to read."


By Hunter S. Thompson

"As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I’m not sure that I’m going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says, ‘you are nothing’, I will be a writer."

The Art of Living

By Epictetus

"Except for extreme physical abuse, other people cannot hurt you unless you allow them to."

If An Egyptian Cannot Speak English.

By Noor Naga

"She says she needs light in order to breathe, as though she were some kind of sun-eating rose."

The Prophet.

By Kahlil Gibran

"Work is love made visible."


By Joachim Schmidt

"If I could, I would always be happy. But that’s not possible."

Running With Scissors.

By Augusten Burroughs

"Our lives are one endless stretch of misery punctuated by processed fast foods and the occasional crisis or amusing curiosity."

Winter in Sockcho

By Elisa Shua Dusapin

"She'd pulled out their teeth to stop them from harming each other."


By Malcolm Gladwell

"We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for."

The Last Interview: Johnny Cash

By Melville Publishing House

"You know, I just hope and pray I can die with my boots on––really. I’ve been in hospital beds, and I don’t wanna end up there."

The Last Interview: Kurt Vonnegut

By Melville Publishing House

"I so envy Joseph Heller and George Plimpton and all these other friends of mine who are pushing up daisies. They don’t have to read the news."

The Bear

By Andrew Krivak

"Snow covered so much of the girl’s world from mountaintop to lake that for almost half the year all she could see when she looked out that window was a landscape at rest beneath a blanket of white."

Steal Like An Artist

By Austin Kleon

"Once you put your work into the world, you have no control over the way people will react to it."

The Stranger

By Albert Camus

"Anyway, it was one of Maman’s ideas, and she often repeated it, that after a while you could get used to anything."

Do Nothing

By Celeste Headlee

"Why do I have more to do than my grandmother, despite owning a dishwasher, microwave and portable computer?"

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

By Truman Capote

"Never love a wild thing, Mr. Bell. That was Doc's mistake. He was always lugging home wild things. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full-grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can't give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they're strong enough to run into the woods. Or, fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That's how you'll end up, Mr. bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You'll end up looking at the sky."

Atomic Habits

By James Clear

"Doing the thing you need to do means you get to do the thing you want to do."


By Claire Keegan

"Many’s the man lost much just because he missed a perfect opportunity to say nothing."


By Amanda Montell

"Creating special language to influence people’s behavior and beliefs is so effective in part simply because speech is the first thing we’re willing to change about ourselves… and also the last thing we let go."

A Cowboy Christmas: An American Tale

By Tom Van Dyke

"Well, mama let out a whistle that would cut glass."

Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty

By Anderson Cooper & Katherine Howe

"Everyone in this story wants something. Money. Attention. Safety. Security. But most of all, love. The one thing of which, no matter how privileged the surroundings, how polished the chauffeur-driven cars or delicate the crystal sherry glasses, there still never seems to be enough."

Wild: The Life of Peter Beard

By Graham Boynton

"As so many of his former lovers have said, he made each one feel as though she was the only person in the room."

My Trade Is Mystery

By Carl Phillips

"As when, though you continue to live with and make a home with another person––but as if were sometimes strangers to each other––you can’t decide if you no longer love them or if it’s possible that you’ve just forgotten you still do: either way, a muddle."

Small Things Like These.

By Claire Keegan

"Before long, he caught a hold of himself and concluded that nothing ever did happen again; to each was given days and chances which wouldn’t come back around. And wasn’t it sweet to be where you were and let it remind you of the past for once, despite the upset, instead of always looking on into the mechanics of the days and the trouble ahead, which might never come."

The Hawk’s Way: Encounters with Fierce Beauty.

By Sy Montgomery

"With fearless fury, the hawk lets loose a scream that feels as if, with the help of a tiny spark, it could ignite and consume me, the crow, the entire mountain."

Govt Cheese

By Steven Pressfield

"Mine was a Smith-Corona. I still have it. It’s a monster. It weighs twenty-one pounds. A typewriter is not like a laptop. There’s no electrical assist when you hit the keys. You have to pound the hell out of a manual typewriter. Even the sound of an old-school typewriter is violent, the bam, bam, bam of the metal striker bars pounding the paper through an inked ribbon to create the punch-bang impress of a letter and then a word. A manual typewriter is heavy. No way you can lift it with one hand. It’s a two-arm heft, and even then you have to brace the clumsy, ungainly tonnage against your hip or your belly. The machine has to possess mass to hold steady beneath the barrage of the keys being punched and the type bars flying at the paper. The frame is industrial-grade steel like the chassis of a Buick. I carried my Smith-Corona in the back of my Chevy van for seven years. I never used it. Not once, not even to write a letter. I hated it. My typewriter was a constant reminder of my failure as a husband, as a writer, and as a man. Half a dozen times I came this close to heaving the damn thing out to the alligators. Once in north Georgia, I pulled over in the middle of a bridge. I had the typewriter in both hands at the rail, ready to sling it into the Chattahoochee. I didn’t. I don’t know why. In my van I always stuck my typewriter in the darkest, most remote corner. I was punishing it. Hiding it, hiding my own shame. The worst thing about carrying a typewriter in a vehicle is it keeps rattling. The carriage migrates. Spindly appendages clatter and bang. I finally just stuffed an old t-shirt into the damn thing’s innards. I wrapped the machine in a moth-eaten army blanket and wedged it in a rear corner between my spare tire and my tire jack."

The Creative Act: A Way Of Being

By Rick Rubin

"Success is harder to come by when your life depends on it."


By Claire Keegan

"Roslin thinks about her husband. She used to call him her man. My man, she’d say, even when he wasn’t around. All looks and cold as a can of beer right out of the icebox, but he has brains about the little things. Can get a whiff of scotch on her breath even when she’s brushed her teeth, knows when she buys the étoufée from the store and spices it up when she can’t be bothered cooking, even though she pitches the can. The kind of man you don’t touch easy. She used to think he was like Robert De Niro or Sean Penn, waters that run deep. She spent ten years with him, trying to get into that place where he lived, because she figured if he went to all that trouble, there must be something real precious inside, like the pearl trapped inside the oyster shell. But then she just gave up and realized there was nothing in there, just a hard, empty shell. He’d sunk all his energy into building that thing; then he got into that groove and forgot all about what it was that he started protecting."

Before the Sidewalk Ended: A Walk with Shel Silverstein

By Anthony Valerio

"And then we pull out and in a flash that future recedes into the immediate."

A Technique for Producing Ideas

By James Webb Young

"This has brought me to the conclusion that the production of ideas is just as definite a process as the production of Fords; that the production of ideas, too, runs on an assembly line; that in this technique which can be learned and controlled; and that its effective use is just as much a matter of practice in the technique as is the effect use of any tool."

Life’s Work

By David Milch

"You have to show up, you have to give yourself to it, utterly, and you will find under those circumstances a blessing awaits you."

A Boy Named Shel

By Lisa Rogak

"Late one night, Shel was in the Red Room when he heard the sounds of passionate lovemaking coming through the wall, where a woman he was secretly in love with, but who had rejected him, was staying. “I remember lying there thinking, You better be able to take this, because this is a part of the dues. If you can’t take it, go out where you’re safe, where you’ll never hear it, but you’ll never have it, either."

The Art of Creative Thinking: 89 Ways to See Things Differently

By Rod Judkins

"You can borrow flour, but you have to bake your own bread."

Blood Meridian

By Cormac McCarthy

"Now driving in a wild frieze of headlong horses with eyes walled and teeth cropped and naked riders with clusters of arrows clenched in their jaws and their shields winking in the dust and up the far side of the ruined ranks in a piping of boneflutes and dropping down off the sides of their mounts with one heel hunk in the withers strap and their short bows flexing beneath the outstretched necks of the ponies until they had circled the company and cut their ranks in two and then rising up again like funhouse figures, some with nightmare faces painted on their breasts, ridding down the unhorsed Saxons and spearing and clubbing them and leaping from their mounts with knives and running about on the ground with a peculiar bandylegged trot like creatures driven to alien forms of locomotion and stripping the clothes from the dead and seizing them up by the hair and passing their blades about the skulls of the living and the dead alike and snatching aloft the bloody wigs and hacking and chopping at the naked bodies, ripping off limbs, heads, gutting the strange white torsos and holding up great handfuls of viscera, genitals, some of the savages so slathered up with gore they might have rolled in it like dogs and some who fell upon the dying and sodomized them with loud cries to their fellows. And now the horses of the dead came pounding out of the smoke and dust and circled with flapping leather and wild manes and eyes whited with fear like the eyes of the blind and some were feathered with arrows and some lanced through and stumbling and vomiting blood as they wheeled across the killing ground and clatttered from sight again. Dust stanched the wet and naked heads of the scalped who with the fringe of hair below their wounds and tonsured to the bone now lay like maimed and naked monks in the bloodslaked dust and everywhere the dying groaned and gibbered and horses lay screaming."

The trip to Echo Springs: On writers and drinking

By Olivia Laing

"At some point, you have to set down the past. At some point, you have to accept that everyone was doing their best. At some point, you have to gather yourself up and go onward into your life."

The Key to Creativity: The Science behind ideas and how daydreaming can change the world

By Hilde Østby

"The words “what if” have enormous power."

Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!)

By George Lois

"Because advertising and marketing is an art, the solution to each new problem or challenge should begin with a blank canvas and an open mind, not with the nervous borrowings of other people’s mediocrities."

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury

"It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history."

Winter Recipes From The Collective

By Louise Glück

"This is why we search for love. We search for it all our lives, even after we find it."

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortal

By Oliver Burkeman

"I’m convinced, in any case, that it is from this position of not feeling as though you need to earn your weeks on the planet that you can do the most genuine good with them."

101 Things I Learned in Advertising School

By Tracy Arrington and Matthew Frederick

"The more expensive the product, the more emotional the appeal that must be made."

LaserWriter II

By Tamara Shopsin

"David’s cardinal rule is: Assumption is the mother of all fuckups."

The Art of Noticing

By Rob Walker

"Look really, really slowly at almost anything, and chances are good you’ll see more than you ever could have imagined."

The Mountain in the Sea

By Ray Nayler

"The café was run by a Turk who hinted at having been exiled from the Republic of Instanbul for a heinous crime. He held court on the ground floor, in the steam of a gigantic gleaming brass multisamovar that served out a hundred cups of black tea an hour. He made Turkish coffee so thick a water buffalo would float in it. And he hired a Kazakh to barbecue sturgeon the Turk alleged was pilfered from the Caspian."

The Martian Chronicles

By Ray Bradbury

"One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, house-wives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets. And then a long wave of warmth crossed the small town. A flooding sea of hot air; it seemed as if someone had left a bakery door open. The heat pulsed among the cottages and bushes and children. The icicles dropped, shattering, to melt. The doors flew open. The windows flew up. The children worked off their wool clothes. The housewives shed their bear disguises. The snow dissolved and showed last summer’s ancient green lawns. Rocket summer."

Something Wicked This Way Comes

By Ray Bradbury

"The tent flaps mouthed out a warm lion air."

Real Artists Don’t Starve

By Jeff Goins

"Sometimes in life, the script we’re given no longer fits the story we want to live."

Novelist as a Vocation

By Haruki Murakami

"One of the things I most enjoy about writing novels is the sense that I can become anybody I want to be."

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

By Scott Adams

"The short answer is that over the years I have cultivated a unique relationship with failure. I invite it. I survive it. I appreciate it. And then I mug the shit out of it."

Tough Titties

By Laura Belgray

"The key to creativity, business, art, self-expression, any kind of success I value, is to remind yourself that life is not sixth grade."

Elon Musk

Walter Isaacson

"If conventional thinking makes your mission impossible, then unconventional thinking is necessary."

A Grief Observed

C.S. Lewis

"Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything."

The Practice: Shipping Creative Work

Seth Godin

"Creativity is a choice, it's not a bolt of lightning from somewhere else."

Big Sur

Jack Kerouac

"And when I light the lamp for aftersupper reading, here comes the nightly moth to his nightly death at my lamp––after I put out the lamp temporarily, there's the moth sleeping on the wall not realizing I've put it on again."

Open: An Autobiography

Andre Agassi

"This is why we're here. To fight through the pain and, when possible, to relieve the pain of others."

The Untethered Soul

Michael A. Singer

"Everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything."

On Love

Charles Bukowski

"There are so many days when living stops and pulls up and sits and waits like a train on the rails."

Hotel Splendide

Ludwig Bemelmans

"When he was happiest––and the five-dollar bill had made him very happy––he looked as other people do when they cut themselves or swallow something bitter. His laugh was a string of indrawn muted cries, and the more he laughed the sadder he seemed."

How I write: The Secret Lives of Authors

Dan Crowe and Philip Oltermann

“Eloise had the Plaza, Nabokov had the Montreux Palace Hotel, Hemingway had Harry’s Bar, and I have the Chateau with its warped patina––half prestige, half psychosis. It is home away from home––better than home because there is room service and a housekeeper and a beautiful blue pool and the subversive smog of this strange city and a lobby filled with starlets. It is the perfect place to daydream. Here too there are spots for inspiration––my favorite room (all of the rooms are not just rooms, they are apartments with full kitchens, etc.) features a grand piano and a terrace that allows one to eavesdrop on the guests dining below in the garden. The terrace allows one to see without being seen, it allows one to write, day or night it allows one to exist indoors and out and it is that rare place in a city of pretense and pretend where I can most be myself.”

Andy Warhol "Giant" Size

Dave Hickey

“If I ever had to cast an acting role, I want the wrong person for the part. I can never visualize the right person in a part. The right person for the right part would be too much. Besides, no person is ever completely right for any part, because a part in a role is never real, so if you can’t get someone who’s perfectly right, it’s more perfectly wrong. Then you know you’ve really got something.”

The Surrender Experiment

Michael A. Singer

“No matter who we are, life is going to put us through the changes we need to go through. The question is: Are we willing to use this force for our transformation?"

The Smaller Half

Marc Rahe

“All winter the pipes banged insistently in all the rooms. Now they are just there, blank as though they ran out of things to say without making their point."

At Tremendous Dam

Stefan Lorenzutti

“Stones that have, over the course of this summer, removed heat from my forehead and pacified a galloping ribcage. Stones I cupped in palms and fists; palms and fists I held up to my lips; lips I used to whisper hopes, prayers, and resolutions & I leapt from the wooden tower and dropped into the cold lake."

A Horse At Night: On Writing

Amina Cain

“Sometimes I read and thought about the books my friends had written (they were my friends partly because I felt great kinship with what they wrote), sometimes about books by writers I will never know. They are dead, or they are alive, but still I won't meet them. It is enough to read their work."

Snow Country

Yasunari Kawabata

"From behind the rock, the cedars threw up their trunks in perfectly straight lines, so high that he could see the tops only by arching his back. The dark needles blocked out the sky, and the stillness seemed to be singing quietly. The trunk against which Shimamura leaned was the oldest of all. For some reason all the branches on the north side had withered, and, their tips broken and fallen, they looked like stakes driven into the trunk with their sharp ends out, to make a terrible weapon for some god."

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

Charlie Mackesy

"Sometimes I worry you'll all realize I'm ordinary," said the boy. "Love doesn't needs you to be extraordinary," said the mole.


Anna Kavan

"Outside there was only the deadly cold, the frozen vacuum of an ice age, life reduced to mineral crystals; but here, in our lighted room, we were safe and warm. I looked into her face, it was smiling, untroubled; I could see no fear, no sadness there now. She smiled and pressed close, content with me in our home. I drove at great speed, as if escaping, pretending we could escape. Although I knew there was no escape from the ice, from the ever-diminishing remnant of time that encapsuled us. I made the most of the minutes. The miles and the minutes flew past. The weight of the gun in my pocket was reassuring."

The Road

Cormac McCarthy

"Please don't tell me how the story ends."

The Killer Angels

Michael Shaara

"When he thought of the old man, he could see him suddenly in a field in the spring, trying to move a gray boulder. He always knew instinctively the ones you could move, even though the greater part was buried in the earth, and he expected you to move the rock and not discuss it. A hard and silent man, an honest man, a noble man. Little humor but sometimes the door opened and you saw the warmth within a long way off, a certain sadness, a slow, remote, unfathomable quality as if the man wanted to be closer to the world but did not know how."

The Deleted World

Tomas Tranströmer

"Throughout those dismal months my life was only sparked alight when I made love to you. As th firefly ignites an fades, ignited and fades, we follow the flashes of its flight in the dark among the olive trees. Throughout those dismal months, my soul sat slumped and lifeless but my body walked to yours. The night sky was lowing. We milked the cosmos secretly, and survived."

Slow Days, Fast Company

Eve Babitz

"Women want to be loved like roses. They spend hours perfecting their eyebrows and toes and inventing irresistible curls that fall by accident down the back of their necks from otherwise austere hairdos. They want their lover to remember the way they held a glass. They want to haunt."

Life With Picasso

Françoise Gilot

"He told me that from then on, everything I did and everything he did was of the utmost importance: any word spoken, the slightest gesture, would take on meaning, and everything that happened between us would change us continually. "For that reason," he said, "I wish I were able to suspend time at this moment and keep things exactly at this point, because I feel that this instant is a true beginning. We have a definite but unknown quantity of experience at our disposal. As soon as the hourglass is turned, the sand will begin to run out and once it starts, it cannot stop until it's all gone. That's why I wish I could hold it back at the start. We should make a minimum of gestures, pronounce a minimum of words, even see each other as seldom as possible, if that would prolong things. We don't know how much of everything we have ahead of us so we have to take the greatest precautions not to destroy the beauty of what we have. Everything exists in limited quantity––especially happiness."

All Fours

Miranda July

"Throughout my life men had been pushing their big fingers into my mouth and although I went along with it, I always thought, Are you out of your mind What should I put in there next? Your shoe? How about I just lick the pavement? But this was entirely different. I wished it was a little dirtier. I wanted to eat his day; everything he had done that day."

Child of God

Cormac McCarthy

"He sat hourlong in the windy sedge with the sun on his back. As if he'd store the warmth of it against the coming winter."

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary

Sarah Manguso

"Look at me, dancing my little dance for a few moments against the background of eternity."