One highlighted passage from every book I read in 2017

Only twenty? I honestly thought I had read more than that.

My top five for this year.

Version Control by Dexter Palmer.

“He was all the possible fathers. He was a dragonslayer and a titan of industry; he was a cunning detective and a grizzled gunfighter; he was an astronaut and a priest and a jailer of thieves.”

Martian Time Slip by Philip K. Dick

“Who can say if perhaps the schizophrenics are not correct? Mister, they take a brave journey. They turn away from mere things, which one may handle and turn to practical use; they turn inward to meaning. There, the black-night-without-bottom lies, the pit.”

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

“Strange, isn’t it? To have dedicated one’s life to a certain venture, neglecting other aspects of one’s life, only to have that venture, in the end, amount to nothing at all, the products of one’s labors utterly forgotten?”

The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

“The body itself was abhorrent. It could be made subservient to anything. It could work for despots, tyrants, fascists, terrorists — it could work for machines. He realized the pointlessness, at a time like this, of having a mind.”

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

“Judaism has a special relationship with words. Giving a word to a thing is to give it life. ‘Let there be light,’ God said, and there was light. No magic. No raised hands and thunder. The articulation made it possible. It is perhaps the most powerful of all Jewish ideas: expression is generative.”

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton

“Facebook was now being valued at around $80 billion; Twitter was worth some $10 billion, and that place was run like a clown car.”

Ill Will by Dan Chaon

“No doubt this must happen to everyone at a certain age: You look up for a moment and you’re not sure which life is real. You’ve split yourself into so many honeycombed parts that they barely notice each other — all of them pacing, concurrently, parallel streams of thought, and each one thinks of its self as me.”

Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

“Every cluster of human cells was viewed as a baby in America. A quarter of the population wasn’t vaccinated. A majority of Americans didn’t believe in evolution. Social-media-powered opinions carried more influence than peer-reviewed scientific research. In this virulently anti-science atmosphere, synbio research was hounded offshore before it had really begun. Activists crowed over their victory.”

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

“Overly literal translations, far from being faithful, actually distort meaning by obscuring sense.”

Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock

“The oncoming evening, the glittering urban panorama, its chilled beauty, its hugeness, life unfolding and all that awaits, chokes me up. I remind myself to breathe, let myself exhale. I see her large hazel eyes. Her joyous face. I see her and at the same time cannot see her, cannot imagine how much she has grown, how her face has evolved. But I don’t need to, do I? I don’t need to know the answers. I don’t need to know more than the next breath. All of this is happening.”

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

“Where would she be now? It was nothing, really, just a passing shadow, and Eve had lived long enough to know that it was foolish to worry about a shadow. Everybody had one; it was just the shape your body made when the sun came out.”

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

“To flee forever is beyond the capacity of most: at some point even a hunted animal will stop, exhausted, and await its fate, if only for a while.”

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

“It was just the two of us crossing the bay, and when the fat little boat puttered below the bulk of the Bay Bridge, I felt like we were astronauts in transit across the back side of the moon.”

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

“At the end of the street, under a gray expanse of sky, she sensed the ocean, like someone asleep.”

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré

“In the earlier days the city had been thronging with second-rate agents: intelligence was discredited and so much a part of the daily life of Berlin that you could recruit a man at a cocktail party, brief him over dinner, and he would be blown by breakfast.”

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

“Here we live in the shadow of the steeple, where the holy rubber meets the road, all crookedly blessed in God’s mercy, in the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, race-riot-creating, oddball-hating, soul-shaking, love-and-fear-making, heartbreaking town of Freehold, New Jersey. Let the service begin.”

Void Star by Zachary Mason

“She wonders if there are firms specializing in the sculpture of hubris, and do they ever build heroically scaled, improbably muscular statues of their older, more literal-minded clientele?”

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

“Think of yourself as a machine operating within a machine and know that you have the ability to alter your machines to produce better outcomes.”

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

“A pitch pipe sounding a single note was your only warning that your heart was about to be wrecked.”

Autumn by Ali Smith

“We have to hope, Daniel was saying, that the people who love us and who know us a little bit will in the end have seen us truly. In the end, not much else matters.”



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