Choosing Quotes: Help!

Hey guys!

Today I want to talk about choosing quotes from books. In whatever book I’m reading, I’m always looking for quotes I can note down – or highlight, if I’m reading on my Kindle, because I like including quotes in my reviews AND taking little pieces from some of the books I’ve read. And it doesn’t even need to be of books I like. Sometimes, I find quotes pretty easily. But then there are the times when I have difficulties.

For some reason, I’m really concerned (okay, fine, fussy) about the kinds of quotes I choose and put in reviews. They must be just right, meaning:

  • They must be non-spoilery (duh)
  • They must make sense to everyone
  • They can’t be too long
  • They must want to make the reader read the book… or not read it, for horrible ones
  • They must feel meaningful, or beautiful, or significant, for good books; for bad ones, they just need to drive home a point I’ve pointed out
  • They must evoke some kind of feeling from me, and hopefully others

Does that sound overly picky or what?!

Wait, should I use this? Okay, I think I will. Actually, no.

That’s probably why I have so much difficulty! Every time I find a quote that’s meaningful to me, I feel self-conscious that other people who haven’t read the book won’t think the same way, so more often than not, I don’t use it. Which is also why many of my reviews don’t have quotes.

I can’t help wondering, though: am I the only one? This “condition” probably sounds strange and petty to some of you, but it’s a HUGE issue for me. I get so worked up, and I even stopped trying to convince myself that it was just me being weird when I saw something similar happen to another reviewer – her quote didn’t make sense to me, nor was it really significant. That just confirmed my fears. It is possible for people not to make much sense of your quote. And that terrifies me, because it’s so embarrassing. To me, what’s the point of choosing a quote if no one can make sense of it?

That’s just me, though.

And since this is a post about quotes, I just can’t pass up the chance to share with you some of my favorite ones. πŸ™‚

From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“After all this time?”

“Always,” said Snape.

With just one word, Snape shows just how much he loves Lily. And honestly, that one word managed to make thousands – probably millions – cry their hearts out.

“What are they all staring at?” demanded Albus as he and Rose craned around to look at the other students.

“Don’t let it worry you,” said Ron. “It’s me. I’m extremely famous.”

In one line, J.K. Rowling manages to convey Ron’s humor brilliantly.

From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

The beginning of an adventure. Goes to show that you aren’t always what you think you are, eh?

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”


From Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

This is also why cheating never works out. You may be a slick liar, but in the end, the truth always comes to light.

From The Lord of the Rings

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

This part of the poem shows how powerful – and evil – the One Ring is. There’s more to the poem, of course, but the rest didn’t really mean much to me. I loved how Tolkien managed to show us how evil the Ring was in just these few lines.

From Pivot Point

When I read, I feel emotion all on my own. Emotion no living person is making me feel.

Do I even need to explain this? This quote rings true for me ALL the time!

From To Kill a Mockingbird

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Nice piece of advice from the one and only Atticus Finch!

From Beautiful Creatures

“The right thing and easy thing are never the same.”

Another good piece of advice from Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (I can’t remember who said this in the book, ha).

Over to you!

Do you face any similar problems with picking quotes? Or do you have any advice? Do share! Plus, if you have any favorite quotes, don’t hesitate to mention them below. More books for me to check out, yay!

This post is linked on the Let’s Discuss feature, hosted by Oh, Chrys! and The Fiction Conniption

31 thoughts on “Choosing Quotes: Help!

  1. I definitely understand what you mean! I actually mainly only highlight quotes that are very meaningful or I find funny. So I don’t really care about the quotes being spoilerish. If it is spoilerish, I just won’t post it in my review. But sometimes I do set the bar high for a quote to actually get me to highlight it haha. There is always the case where I highlight a quote and then when I go back to it, I’ll wonder why I even highlighted it xD

  2. Ooh what a great discussion topic! I’ll be honest, I’m not huge on quotes and I only insert them in my reviews to break up my wall of text. Like, I’ll write two massive paragraphs about a character and then be like, oh no, I need to insert something. So then I’ll go to Goodreads and just grab a quote that involves that character that I somewhat like and just put it in between the paragraphs so it breaks it up a little. Isn’t that HORRIBLE?! I mean, I probably have a worse problem that you because I’m the exact opposite whereas I insert my quotes into reviews without barely ANY thought and that could be more harmful than good. I mean, while reading I’ll think oh, I should mark this. But then I assume it’ll be on Goodreads, but then it’s not. And then I just give up. Haha. So what I’m saying is don’t feel bad, I rather have your problem than mine!

    • Thanks, Asti! And wow, I never knew that. Maybe that’s why I always thought you were some legendary quote finder. It’s a great idea, breaking up the wall of words with a quote, but unfortunately my OCD-ness won’t let me add quotes into a review if it has nothing to do with what I’m talking about. Grr, brain…

      Rest assured that I don’t think the quotes in your reviews are harmful!

  3. My worry with quotes is how they will be understood out of context. Take The Book Thief, for example. I was reading a negative review that used quotes to point out how, in their opinion, horribly florid and nonsensical Zusak’s metaphors were (I think one she used was about the sun being breakfast-coloured). It hit me then that yeah, reading those lines in her review made them sound stupid — but I never had that feeling while I was reading them in the book because they fit in with the rest of the prose and what was going on at that time.

    That’s mostly the reason why I tend not to use quotes in my reviews. Authors craft their stories so well that each sentence is not discrete from the next. Once you take that sentence out from its surrounding context, it takes on a completely different meaning.

    • Now that you mention it… that does sound like a pretty big issue. Thankfully it’s never happened to me – or maybe I just don’t read enough reviews to see if it does. I can see how quotes can be easily misinterpreted, though, since everyone’s opinions differ. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Nikki!

  4. I have terrible issues with quotes and most the time I leave them out of my reviews because I can never chose the right ones. If there are quotes avalible on Goodreads I will look through them and see if any are ok. I try to note down awesome quotes as I am reading but when I look back I just think ‘why did I pick that?’ Great post!

    Kate @ Reading Under the Willow Tree

    • I have the same problem, sort of! Heh, yeah, I use Goodreads as a “quote-checker.” Like, if I see a quote on there that I wanted to highlight, I’d use it, because I’d know I wasn’t alone in liking the quote. Sometimes I have no idea how my mind works as well. *gives head a conk*

  5. I don’t use quotes in my reviews so this doesn’t prove a big problem for me. Occasionally, I compile quotes from a book I really liked for a seperate post but I really do them very lazily. I go onto Goodreads, find a couple I like and insert them. It has never occurred to me to be mindful of spoilers but I’m quite sure I didn’t accidentally give something crucial away… I hope not!

    Love the quotes you picked out by the way! Harry Potter has SO many great quotes. I could list them forever and ever and ever.

  6. I don’t normally pick out quotes to put in my review, but if one really stands out, I will include it. It sounds like you put much more thought into picking your quotes though!
    I really like your favorites from Pivot Point and To Kill a Mockingbird. I recently read both of those books, so those memories are fresh on my mind and those scenes were pretty important and powerful.
    It’s so hard to think of quotes off the top of my head. Hmmm… I guess my two favorite come from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta:
    “‘What do you want from me?’ he asks.
    What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him.
    “Where they would all belong or long to be.
    A place on the Jellicoe Road.”
    Gahh that whole book is full of some good quotes that give me chills.
    Loved this discussion!

    • Haha, it sounds that way, but really – I’m just extremely picky and not thoughtful at all. Wish I could get over that OCD-ness, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be going away. Thanks! You’ve got some lovely quotes too. I’ve heard a lot about Jellicoe Road, so the fact that it’s got plenty of awesome quotes makes me want to read it all the more. πŸ™‚

  7. I’m really not that picky. I highlight a lot of quotes on my Kindle as I’m reading and then go through those and select the ones to use. A lot of them ending up thrown out because they’re not relevant to my review or ended up being part of a minor plotline or I no longer like them. Sometimes I don’t have anything left so that review gets no quotes.

    • I guess I don’t really have an eye for quotes, because I can’t seem to find many in the books I read! Sucks, because I love quotes so much, despite having such a hard time with them. Most of my reviews have no quotes too, because I throw them out after questioning my sanity when I highlighted them.

  8. I know how you feel. Honestly, I’ve never been much of a quote collector, and it’s only recently (since I’ve had my Book Lover’s Journal) that I’ve even bothered/remembered to make note of passages or quotes that I’ve enjoyed reading in books. Now, sometimes, I find I *have* to write something down because I don’t want to lose it.

    I occasionally include quotes in my reviews, but only if they feel right. Well, only if they meet basically all of your criteria up there. But if I don’t have a quote that works, then I just don’t include one, lol.

  9. Hmmm, I actually haven’t thought about this before! I don’t think too much about picking my quotes, but I think most of my quotes are about the same as the (beautiful) ones you picked. I always try to find non-spoilery meaningful quotes, ones that make me think or touch me in a certain way.

  10. I’m all whatever with my quotes in reviews, mostly because I never really use them. The moments that I do are for either two circumstances. 1.) Sections of text were so bad that sharing them is a must to prove my point. 2.) I loved the quote to bits.

    But then, I normally get so lazy looking for quotes that the first one ends up happening more often.

    And NNNF, Always. I can look at GIFs of it for ages. ALWAYS.

    • Yep, the quotes easiest for me to pick out are those I need to prove how horrible a book is… which is unfortunate, because I swear I’m not that mean in real life. Sometimes I get too caught up in the story to really bother looking for quotes, too, then when I do remember what I wanted to do, I’d be too lazy. Oh, laziness. You evil thing.

  11. I definitely know how you feel! It’s often hard to choose non spoilery quotes to include in a review in order to showcase the awesomeness of a book (or not-so-awesomeness). I often find that I don’t include quotes in reviews- mostly because there perhaps isn’t a quote that stands out a lot, or if there is it’s spoilery.

    The way I decide is: if there’s a quote that just sounds awesome while I’m reading, I highlight it on my ereader. Then after I’ll filter through and see which ones I want to include in the review. lol that explanation probably wasn’t very helpful at all, because it’s probs what you do anyway.

    One of my favourites from Speechless:
    β€œHate is…it’s too easy,” he says. His face calm, calmer than it has any right to be, his eyes not wavering from mine, like he’s so completely sure of what he’s saying. “Love. Love takes courage.”

    • Believe it or not, I actually highlight next to nothing while reading. Because, and get this, I think my mind sort of filters through the quotes that stand out a little, unconsciously deciding whether it matches all the criteria. If it does, WHAM – highlighted (very rare). If it doesn’t, I just forget about it and move on. Creepy, huh?

      Ooh, yes! I remember that one. So sweet, and so true. Everyone should have that as their mantra, and then there would be no fighting or cruelty or evil in the world…

  12. As much as I would like to help, I don’t think I can give a sensible advice as I’m not really fond of putting quotes on my reviews. I am just too lazy. The very first review where I included some quotes was for Silent Echo. I just couldn’t help myself, it’s one of my most horrible reads for 2013. And I don’t think I couldn’t exactly express my emotions without throwing some bad quotes/verses. Trust me, I didn’t even think about the criteria that you’ve mentioned. I was only thinking that I need to vent all my emotions.

    I did write a warning though that there’ll be a lot of spoilers on my review. πŸ˜€

    • Laziness just seems to be at the root of nearly everything, doesn’t it? I suffer from it as well! And, Lord, Silent Echo. I just finished that one a couple of days ago, and it was NOT GOOD. I managed to pick out a couple of quotes from there as well, so I’m feeling quite satisfied with myself, haha. So looking forward to your review of it!

  13. HAHA I’m not one to get all fussy about quotes, but that’s not me being shallow though– I appreciate a lot of quotes from books, but I don’t really care too much about marking them πŸ™‚ I do use them for my reviews though, although I don’t hunt for them on my own. I just google “*book title* quotes”, and usually, the first entry is the Goodreads list of quotes from that book, which I use to pick out the nice ones! I don’t think a lot of people can make do with being so templated like me, but I honestly LOVE a lot of the quotes I see on Goodreads, so I don’t have much of a problem with them really! But I totally agree with your criteria though πŸ™‚ Great post! πŸ˜€

    • You’re not the only one! I know a couple of other people who choose quotes the same way you do, and there’s nothing wrong with it. πŸ™‚ But I agree with you – the quotes of GR are amazing. Bookworms really have good tastes. πŸ˜‰ Thanks, Jasmine!

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