About the words

‘The words fell in strange and awkward shapes; they fell on me and into me,
and I was surprised how soothing they were.’

From ‘What the Light Hides’, by Mette Jakobsen

‘Twenty-One Words’ is a blog about books and birds and words.

Mostly, it’s about other people’s words and how I’ve responded to them: what other people have written, how their words make me feel, what they make me think. After all, words can make us laugh, cry, think, hope, dream, rage — but they have no meaning unless they are shared.

Here you will find a list of all the books (and other kinds of reading material) I’ve quoted from over the years, grouped into what I hope are helpful categories, according to what kind of reading material the quotes come from. The links below will take you back to the original post where you can read the words I quoted and find more details about the material itself.

Works of fiction and literature

Sally Abbott, Closing Down (also here )
Kathleen Alcott, Infinite Home
Laurie Halse Anderson, Fever 1793
Jessica Au, Cold Enough for Snow
Jen Beagin, Vacuum in the Dark
Ali Benjamin, The Truth About Jellyfish
Georgia Blain, Between a Wolf and a Dog (also here)
Katherine Brabon, The Memory Artist
AS Byatt, The Children’s Book
Joanna Cantor, Alternative Remedies for Loss
Niamh Campbell, We Were Young
Belinda Castles, Bluebottle (also here)
Alexander Chee, Edinburgh (also here)
Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Claire Christian, Beautiful Mess
Susan Conley, Elsey Come Home
Cath Crowley, Words in Deep Blue
Katharine Dion, The Dependents
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot
Jennifer Down, Pulse Points
Danielle Dutton, Somehow (in the Paris Review, #224)
Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach
Pamela Erens, The Virgins
Helena Fox, How it Feels to Float (also here)
Karen Foxlee, The Midnight Dress
Jean Kyoung Frazier, Pizza Girl
Nell Freudenberger, Lost and Wanted
Peggy Frew, Hope Farm
Emily Fridlund, History of Wolves (also here)
Kate Grenville, The Secret River
Paul Harding, Enon
Rachel Hartman, Tess of the Road
Samantha Harvey, Dear Thief
Joanne Horniman, Mahalia
Alex Hourston, In my House
Elizabeth Jane Howard, Odd Girl Out and The Light Years
Siri Hustvedt, The Sorrows of an American
Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Metta Jakobsen, What the Light Hides
Susan Johnson,The Landing
Julia May Jonas, Vladimir
Toni Jordan, Addition
Toni Jordan, The Fragments
Mireille Juchau, The World without Us (also here)
Sarah Kanake, Sing Fox to Me
Michelle de Kretser, Questions of Travel and The Life to Come
Danya Kukafka, Girl in Snow (also here)
Nina La Cour, We Are Not Alone (also here)
David Leavitt, The Lost Language of Cranes
Kim Leine, The Prophets of Eternal Fjorde
Margaret Leroy, The Collaborator
Bernard MacLaverty, Midwinter Break (also here and here)
Meg Mason, Sorrow and Bliss
Sarah Thankam Mathews, All This Could Be Different
Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour
Molly McCloskey, When Light is Like Water
Kate Mildenhall, Skylarking (also here)
Sue Miller, While I was Gone and Monogamy
Megan Miranda, Fragments of the Lost
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Nicholas Montemarano, The Book of Why
Yannick Murphy, This is the Water
Martine Murray, The Last Summer of Ada Bloom
Micah Nemerever, These Violent Delights
Patrick Ness, Release
Amanda Niehaus, The Breeding Season
Maggie O’Farrell, Instructions for a Heatwave
Kristina Olsson, Shell (also here)
Ruth Park, Swords and Crowns and Rings
Carolyn Parkhurst, The Nobodies Album
Laura Powell, The Unforgotten
Shannon Pufahl, On Swift Horses
Michèle Roberts, The Walworth Beauty
Marilynne Robinson, Lila
Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends (also here and here and here)
Sally Rooney, Normal People
Anuradha Roy, Sleeping on Jupiter (also here and here)
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Michael Sala, The Restorer (also here)
Francesca Segal, The Innocents
Inga Simpson, Nest
Francis Spufford, Light Perpetual
Lynn Steger Strong, Want (also here)
Elizabeth Strout, Amy & Isabelle, and My Name is Lucy Barton
Brandon Taylor, Filthy Animals (also here)
Elizabeth Taylor, The Soul of Kindness
Emily Temple, The Lightness
Olga Tokarczuk, Flights
Hannah Tunnicliffe, Season of Salt & Honey and The Colour of Tea
Thrity Umgar, The Space between Us
Vikki Wakefield, Inbetween Days
Tommy Wallach, Thanks for the Trouble
Madeleine Watts, The Inland Sea (also here)
Ian Weir, Will Starling
Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway
Hannah Yanaghihara, A Little Life

Memoirs and biographies

Richard Askwith, Running Free
Georgia Blain, The Museum of Words
Kate Cole-Adams, Anaesthesia (also here and here)
Alison Croggon, Monsters: A reckoning
Rachel Cusk, Aftermath (also here, here and here)
Christian Donlan, The Unmapped Mind
Jean Hannah Edelstein, This Really isn’t About You
William Finnegan, Barbarian Days
Emily Fox Gordon, Mockingbird Years
Alexandra Heminsley, Running Like a Girl
Kate Holden, In My Skin
Marya Hornbacher, Wasted
Elizabeth Jane Howard, Slipstream (also here and here)
Caroline Knapp, Appetites
Olivia Laing, To the River (also here)
Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life Death
Catriona Menzies-Pike, The Long Run (also here and here and here)
Hugh Miles, Playing Cards in Cairo: Mint Tea, Tarneeb and Tales of the City
Sue Miller, The Story of My Father
Oliver Mol, Train Lord
Maggie O’Farrell, I Am, I Am, I Am (also here)
Christina Patterson, The Art of Not Falling Apart (also here and here)
Scott Stossel, My Age of Anxiety
William Styron, Darkness Visible
Sarah Wilson, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful (also here)
Esther Woolfson, Corvus: A Life with Birds
Esmé Weijun Wang, The Collected Schizophrenias
Fiona Wright, The World was Whole

Essay collections and works of non-fiction

Robyn Arzón, Shut Up and Run
Phil Bagust and Lynda Tout-Smith, The Native Plants of Adelaide
Toni Bernard, How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness
Elisa Black, The Anxiety Book
Sarah Clarkson, Book Girl
Sophie Cunningham, City of Trees
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk
Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself
Craig Ferguson, Riding the Elephant
Rebecca Giggs, Fathoms: The World in the Whale
Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet (also here and here)
Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive (also here)
Belinda Jeffery, The Country Cookbook and Mix and Bake
Marian Keyes, Saved by Cake
Valli Little, Feel Good Food
Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams
Tim Low, Where Song Began
Janet Malcolm, The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
Sy Montogomery, Birdology
Beverly Potter, The Worrywart’s Companion
Tobie and Georgia Puttock, The Chef Gets Healthy
Katie Roiphe, The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End
Mark Rowlands, Running with the Pack(also here)
Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby and Wanderlust (also here and here) and Recollections of My Non-Existence (also here)
Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon
Dr Libby Weaver, The Energy Guide
Charlotte Wood, The Luminous Solution
Kate Young, The Little Library Cookbook
Kate Young, The Little Library Year

Works of poetry

David Campbell, On the Birth of a Son
Frances Darwin Cornford, The Watch
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Some of your Hurts you have Cured
John O’Donohue, Time to Be Slow
Mary Oliver, Wild Geese
William Wordsworth, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

Essays and online reading

Libba Bray, Before and After
Sophie Cunningham, Staying with the Trouble
Kristin Dombek, Letter from Williamsburg
Emily Fox Gordon, At Sixty-Five
Jessica Friedmann, Mourning a Disappearing World as Australia Burns
Heather Havrilesky, in interview with Madeleine Dore on Extraordinary Routines
Karen Hitchcock, Crazy Pills
Karen Hitchcock, Too Many Pills?
Nick Ripatrazone, Why Writers Run
Joseph Scapellato, What if All Writing is Just Drafts, Forever?

Magazine/newspaper articles and quotes from other bloggers

Nigel Andrew, In Praise of Blogging
Lisa of Fifteen Acres, Noticing
Stacy Ladenburger of Delightful Crumb blog, Everyday Cake
Y Lee of Lemonpi blog, When Exercise Ruins Your Waistline
Pat McDermott, Tea and Sympathy
Ella Risbridger of Eating with my Fingers blog, Coming Unstuck
Molly Wizel of Orangette blog, All We Ever Really Want to Do