The 22 Best Lines of 2014

Good music, bad lovin’, and great writing from some of 2014’s most enjoyable books.

Photo illustraion by Slate.

Slate’s Best Books of 2014 coverage:

Monday: Slate staff picks.
The best lines of 2014.
Overlooked books of 2014.
Dan Kois’ favorite books of the year.
The Slate Book Review Top 10.

“I do believe that thinking is an overrated medium for achieving thought.”
–Sarah Ruhl, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write

“I’m Pretty Comfortable, but I Could Be a Little More Comfortable”
–Title of a story in Lydia Davis’ Can’t and Won’t


“Like everyone he knew, he could discern the hollowness in people’s charm only when it was directed at someone other than himself. When it was directed at him, the person just seemed so totally nice.
–Lorrie Moore, Bark

“Sometimes she narrates her actions inside her head in third-person. Does that make her a writer or a woman?”
–Kate Zambreno, Green Girl


“Comfortably platinum,
they bang a gong, the old masters.
Jägermeister underwrites
their Stratocasters.”
–Michael Robbins, The Second Sex


–Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky, and Queen’s lawyers, Sex Criminals Vol. 1: One Weird Trick

“Danny had fifteen hundred dollars in the bank. Since he wouldn’t be paying rent the money would last him awhile, which meant he could devote himself entirely to two objectives: (1) write the great American novel, despite having never experienced anything of significance other than Rachel; (2) Rachel.”
–Justin Taylor, Flings

“Of course I liked [a kiss]; but the fact is I’m in a hurry and you’re married.”
–Larry McMurtry, The Last Kind Words Saloon


“Girls were never as romantic as boys. That is where people were wrong. It was boys who pined for love, and girls who understood it, and therefore pursued not love, but boys.”
–Bruce Holbert, The Hour of Lead


“Nicer is not what I am after. Fuck me softly fuck me quick is all the same once done to me.”
–Eimear McBride, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing

“When I was nine, I wrote a vow of celibacy on a piece of paper and ate it.”
–Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl


“ ‘It is of course dangerous to set off an explosive device on a spacecraft,’ Vogel pointed out.”
–Andy Weir, The Martian

“This was during the final month of the era when it was possible to press a series of buttons on a telephone and speak with someone on the far side of the earth.”
–Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven

“Sleep is a shallow death we practice every night.”
–Lydia Netzer, How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky


“And that phrase ‘sleeping like a baby.’ Some blonde said it blithely on the subway the other day. I wanted to lie down next to her and scream for five hours in her ear.”
–Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation


“ ‘You’re sad?’ my father said angrily. ‘I want to hang myself every day.’ ”
–Akhil Sharma, Family Life

“Old age turns horrible people into ‘characters,’ their misanthropy masquerading as crustiness.”
–Rebecca Makkai, The Hundred-Year House


–Nick Maandag, Facility Integrity

“I fill my departmental hours casting words of praise into the bureaucratic abyss.”
–Julie Schumacher, Dear Committee Members*

“                  The word parrot will never
be replaced, and will continue meaning always
exactly what it means, as none of the words
in this sentence have done—come read me again
in a hundred years and see how I keep my shape!”
–Patricia Lockwood, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals

“Shall we count ourselves lucky? 1. 2. 3.”
–Matthea Harvey, If the Tabloids Are True What Are You?

“Also, thanks to lots of other people for being great!”
–Douglas Watson, on the Acknowledgments page of A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies

* Correction, Dec. 2, 2014: This article originally misidentified Julie Schumacher, the author of Dear Committee Members, as Rebecca Schumacher. 

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