One Bookstore Finds the Secret to Succeeding in the Amazon Age

Frank Reiss’s business spent 10 years on the edge of collapse.

During the late 1990s and 2000s, his independent bookstore—like so many of its peers—faced intense pressure from Amazon and big-box chains. At his lowest point, Mr. Reiss was a quarter of a million dollars in debt, with wavering hope that he could survive the digital age.

Now Atlanta-based A Cappella Books has become a success story. Its sales have doubled from a decade ago and are now closing in on $1 million. Profit margins have risen, too, as have many of its peers’.

What happened?

First, Mr. Reiss added a whole other side to his operation, author events, which proved lucrative and bolstered his storefront operation. And he focused his events and his bookstore selections to reflect his interests—a personal touch that resonates with a lot of customers these days.

“I think the facelessness of e-commerce has stirred in enough people…a sense of nostalgia for real stores, buying real products from real people having conversations,” Mr. Reiss says.

The story of how Mr. Reiss turned his business around says much about the surprising revival of the independent-bookstore industry, which was pretty much left for dead a short time ago. In part, the stores have been helped by the fall of large chains—their prime nemesis before the advent of Amazon and other online sellers. But independent bookstores have also had to leverage that opportunity to the fullest, and more often than not, that has meant rethinking the whole way they make money.

The big turnaround

The numbers tell a stark story. Experts who track the industry say that the mid-1990s saw a huge erosion of privately owned bookstores. But now the American Booksellers Association, an industry trade group, says that those independent stores are making a strong comeback, with the number of locations rising to 2,470 currently from 1,651 in 2009, the first year the ABA started tracking the number.

Oren Teicher, chief executive of the association, credits the boom to several factors, including cheaper back-office technology; the use of social media for promotion; and more favorable distribution terms from publishers.

Customers themselves have also changed. More people want to shop local, and they want shops with personality.

“Book curation is a critical part of the story for indie booksellers that are not just surviving, but are growing,” says Ryan L. Raffaelli, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, who studies industries in transition, with a focus on bookstores in recent years. Customers seem to be willing to pay a higher price, he says, for books that have been “carefully selected from the mass of options.”

Most successful longtime bookstores have their own distinctive flavor. The King’s English in Salt Lake City, in business since 1977, specializes in literary fiction. R.J. Julia in Madison, Conn., 30 years in business, offers a subscription service that sends books based on readers’ personal preferences. Chartwell Booksellers in New York City specializes in books about Winston Churchill.

In Mr. Reiss’s case, the selling point has evolved into speakers and a book selection that generally represent his liberal political slant, distinctive musical interests, such as protest and folk music, and a fresh take on Southern history.

Harry Belafonte and former A Cappella Books bookseller Chantal James. PHOTO: CHRIS BUXBAUM

It’s a combination that has delivered rising sales and earnings for most of the past seven years, he says. In 2018, he recorded $830,000 in sales, and earnings of $37,000 before tax, for a margin of 4.4%. In his best year, 2017, he posted sales of $880,000, profits of $74,000, and margins of 8.5%.

Mr. Reiss’s biggest expenses are the cost of goods sold—that is, the books—which eat up half his sales. Then there are salaries for the store’s five full-time employees—including Mr. Reiss himself—which take up 25%. Rent, licenses and other expenses account for the rest.

Mr. Reiss expects sales to climb in 2019, “with that $1 million mark something that I’m always keeping my eye on,” he says.

Still, Mr. Reiss emphasizes that even though book selling is better than it was a decade ago, it remains a highly unpredictable business—and his trade isn’t a lucrative one. This is “not a business to get into to make money, at least in the traditional way,” he says.

Sales, however, aren’t the only measure of his success. There’s also influence. “For its size and scope as a new and used bookstore with a proven ability to host celebrity artists, musicians and politicians, A Cappella is one of the most successful indie bookstores in America today,” says Linda-Marie Barrett, assistant executive director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.

A changing field

Mr. Reiss founded A Cappella Books in 1989, in Atlanta’s bohemian neighborhood of Little Five Points. It got its name from Mr. Reiss’s interest in music—he was a onetime aspiring musician himself—and because he figured he would have to work without accompaniment.

The place started as an antiquarian bookstore, its shelves crammed with used and rare books. Mr. Reiss picked up inventory from retiring philosophy professors or widows of Civil War buffs, often for pennies, then turned them around for $40 or $50. Some especially rare titles went for thousands of dollars. The store quickly became successful, and Mr. Reiss took on an employee and moved to a new, larger location.

A Cappella Books evolved into a gathering place for intellectuals, musicians, writers and artists, earning the store cachet.

But the “cool” factor wasn’t enough to overcome the tsunami that hit book selling in the 1990s. At first, Mr. Reiss didn’t worry. He was selling something different than the big guys. But by 2000, he says, the store was struggling. With rare titles easy to find online, it was tough to get even $5 for books that Mr. Reiss had once sold for as much as $50.

In 2005, he moved to a new spot, hoping to give the store a refresh, and experimented with running a dessert shop next door. Now the slim profits went to paying down debts incurred on a renovation, and to prop up the side business—which failed.

Then he tried adding new books to the mix to attract people who might otherwise buy from big operators. But in contrast to carefully selected rare books, which had enjoyed wide profit margins and could be purchased in manageable quantities, new books had to be bought in bulk, based on what sales reps pushed.

Mr. Reiss bought the new titles from publishers on credit, at up to 46% off the cover price. He then sold the books at 20% off the cover price, hoping to move enough to cover forthcoming payments. What didn’t sell had to be returned—a job that was both costly and labor-intensive. Margins shrank to almost nothing.

What’s more, the store underwent an identity crisis as new, mainstream titles began crowding out titles reflecting Mr. Reiss’s tastes.

Sales held steady in the high $200,000s—much of it from the lower-margin new books—which covered Mr. Reiss’s costs but didn’t afford much breathing room. He had to keep staff lean, and he cut his salary below $30,000. He and his wife, a government attorney, increasingly relied on her salary to support themselves and their two daughters. Even in more profitable years, Mr. Reiss says, his salary has never exceeded $50,000.

Eventually, Mr. Reiss went to friends and family, who agreed to lend him money at low interest, which helped save him from defaulting.

New ventures

Then Mr. Reiss got advice from his dad, who also owned a bookstore. Author events, his father told him, could be the answer.

Mr. Reiss gave it a shot. The events were slow at first, and not lucrative. Then, in 2005, Mr. Reiss heard that Al Franken would embark on a tour for “The Truth (With Jokes).” Mr. Reiss begged Sen. Franken’s producer to include Atlanta on his tour; he got a “yes.” (Sen. Franken says he doesn’t specifically remember the conversation with Mr. Reiss but recalls that he did want to go to Atlanta.)

Musician and songwriter Jimmy Webb and A Cappella Books bookseller Chris Buxbaum.PHOTO: FRANK REISS

Mr. Reiss asked the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum to host a talk and signing at no cost, and the venue agreed. He then rented the 750-seat Variety Playhouse for about $1,500 for another event: Sen. Franken was doing his radio show on the road, and listeners could attend.

“I tried to act like I knew what I was doing,” Mr. Reiss recalls. “But this was all uncharted territory for me.”

The venues were packed—and Mr. Reiss was there with plenty of books to sell to attendees. He sold them at full retail price, and kept all the proceeds.

Mr. Reiss figures that between the signing and radio show, he sold 500 books for full retail price—$25.95 each—clearing about $13,000 in sales in one day and one night. That equaled almost half of his revenue for an average month.

Other events and off-site book sales followed. Mr. Reiss sold books at comedy clubs, Atlanta City Hall, museums, libraries, churches and synagogues. His growing cachet reacquainted him with author-customers from the past seeking promotion. And it attracted ever more prominent authors, among them Pat Conroy and Malcolm Gladwell.

Although sales at the bookstore stagnated, sales at book signings and events at other venues boomed. He continued to purchase books for events at the usual 46% discount to the cover price and then sell them at full cover price. To keep as much of that money as possible, Mr. Reiss hosts nearly all of his 200 or so annual events at free venues, and never pays speakers nor covers their expenses.

For most of those events, admission is free, but for some—up to 15 each year—Mr. Reiss sells tickets. In free venues, the ticket price is the cover price of the book plus tax, and a copy is included. In the rare cases when a venue is rented, as with a Bernie Sanders event, ticket buyers get a copy of the book, but the price is higher than the cover price.

He keeps about 75% of the total proceeds for most events, after paying for website listings, setting up online ticket-sales programs and paying his staff to promote the event on social media.

In 2012, Mr. Reiss moved to a smaller space, which was all he figured he needed as events got more popular. During the first year there, he recorded his highest sales volume up to that point. Today, Mr. Reiss figures book sales through events account for up to half of A Cappella’s overall sales, with the rest generated by the bookstore operation.

His older books remain as distinctive as ever, Mr. Reiss says, but the new ones are curated more subtly; he chooses a broader selection of new titles than he used to, but avoids books that don’t interest him and picks up more of those that do.

These days, most of the books that A Cappella sells are new. Although rare books occasionally go for big money—signed first editions of “Gone With the Wind,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and William Faulkner’s “The Town,” to name a few, each sold for more than $10,000 in recent years. But Mr. Reiss says, in most cases, these kinds of titles don’t hold their value in the internet economy.

On the other hand, he feels that he is now in a position to charge full cover price, without the old practice of discounting. And that’s a sign of health for the industry, he says.

“Like many indie bookstores, we’ve been lucky to see a genuine rebound of interest among people,” he says. “So now I can sell books for full retail even without having the author signing and visiting, because once again, people are reminding themselves that they really do like real bookstores, and they will pay what it costs to keep us in business.”

Ms. Kitchens is a writer in Connecticut. Email

Ketamine offers lifeline for people with severe depression, suicidal thoughts

– Read full CNN article here –

Mount Horeb, Wisconsin (CNN)A few months ago, Alan Ferguson decided he was ready to die — for the third time. In 2014, he attempted suicide twice, and the persistent thoughts of “I need to be dead” were echoing in his brain once again.

Now 54 years old, Ferguson was diagnosed with clinical depression when he was 18. Since then, he estimates, he’s been prescribed more than a dozen medications — SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants — all to little or no avail.
“I never got to the point that I thought, ‘OK, I’m feeling good,’ ” he said. “It was always, ‘OK, this is tolerable.’ But yet those thoughts [of wanting to die] were still there.”

In early May, Ferguson abruptly stopped taking all of his medications, quit his job and gave away his dog, Zeke. That evening, he called his sister, Linda.
“It was a very good conversation,” he said. “Linda and I disagree on a lot of stuff, and that night I avoided the hot-button topics because I did not want her to have bad memories or bad thoughts of what I thought was going to end up being our last conversation.”
As luck or fate or professional intuition would have it, on a prescheduled call the very next day, Ferguson’s psychiatrist offered to refer him to a ketamine clinic in Milwaukee, about an hour and a half from his home.
Ketamine is a powerful medication used in hospitals primarily as an anesthetic, but recent scientific studies have shown significant promise with treatment-resistant depression and suicidal ideation.
Ketamine is also used recreationally, and illegally, as a club drug known as “Special K.” It generates an intense high and dissociative effects.
“I knew of the drug from having been a police officer, so I knew of its street use — illicit use — but I’m a pretty open-minded person too, and after all the traditional medications I’ve been on with no success, I thought, ‘Well, maybe they’re on to something here with this,’ ” Ferguson said. “I wasn’t worried about trying something I had never tried before. I was worried about trying something else that wasn’t going to work.”

A last hope

Ferguson put off his plans to end his life for another week and made his way to Ketamine Milwaukee. The clinic operates once a week, on Fridays, in a space subleased from a weight-loss clinic in a nondescript strip mall just outside the city.
Party drug ketamine closer to approval for depression
Party drug ketamine closer to approval for depression
Dr. Kevin Kane, a practicing anesthesiologist, is Ketamine Milwaukee’s medical director. Referring to the fact that there haven’t been any new classes of drugs developed to treat depression in decades, Kane said that using ketamine to successfully treat the disorder’s most stubborn cases might just be “the biggest breakthrough in mental health in the last 50 years.” He estimates that it is effective for 70% of patients with treatment-resistant depression.

“It’s indicated right now for … somebody who has tried and failed at least two medications, but that’s really not who we’re seeing,” Kane said. Instead, the patients who seek his care have tried more medications than they can count. Some of them have been depressed for as long as they can remember.
“The people we’re seeing aren’t walking off the street because [they’re] feeling a little down,” he said. “They’ve been struggling without relief for a long time.”

The ketamine is administered intravenously, and relief can come quickly — in just a matter of hours.
Ferguson said he woke up the next morning anxiously anticipating his pervasive “I need to be dead” thoughts. But there were none. Mid-morning: still none. Afternoon: none. Evening: none.

“No negative thoughts!” he recalled. “My problems still existed … but things were different. My most faithful, lifelong companion was gone!”
Ferguson doesn’t like to use what he calls the “m-word”: miracle. But he will refer to the way in which ketamine worked for him a medical marvel.
Whatever you call it, the treatment doesn’t come cheap. Infusions at Ketamine Milwaukee cost $495 each, and Kane typically recommends an initial series of five to six infusions, after which patients generally return every four to six weeks for booster infusions.

Because treating depression with ketamine is an “off-label” use of the drug, it is not covered by health insurance, even when it is recommended by a doctor. Ferguson was able to scrape together enough cash for his first infusion. A good friend gave him the money for his second. And his church rallied around him and paid for his third treatment. But the results, he will tell you, are priceless.

The efficacy of Ferguson’s treatment is evident in a mood chart provided to CNN by Kane, with his patient’s permission. The black lines indicate Ferguson’s ketamine infusion dates, and the red dots are his scores on the PHQ-9 (a standardized depression questionnaire). On May 25, the day of his first infusion, Ferguson’s depression was rated “severe.” By his second infusion on June 1, it had improved to “moderate.” And by his third infusion on June 8, for the first time in his adult life, Ferguson’s depression rating measured “none.”

No more suicidal thoughts

Because of how quickly and how well ketamine works in some patients, some doctors have referred to it as a “save shot” for people who are suicidal.
“The ketamine may be a way to improve their mood and stop their suicidal thinking until the other antidepressants — the more standard antidepressants — have the six-week time window to work,” Kane said. “Ketamine may be just the thing that gets someone through that window until other medications get the chance to kick in.
“Sometimes, when you get so depressed that you can barely get out of bed, it’s hard to do the things that your therapist tells you to do to try and help yourself,” he said. “My hope is … that it gives people that lift in mood that allows them to start doing the other things that they know they can do to help themselves.”
A rat neuron before, top, and after ketamine treatment. The increased number of orange nodes are restored connections in the rat's brain.
A rat neuron before, top, and after ketamine treatment. The increased number of orange nodes are restored connections in the rat’s brain.
Kane explained that ketamine works in depressed patients by growing synapses in areas of the brain that have atrophied, namely the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. “If you think of it like a tree that loses its leaves in wintertime, ketamine helps grow those leaves back,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to grow an entire new branch or an entire new tree. It just has to sprout new leaves.”

Moreover, the same dissociative properties that made ketamine a popular party drug are what makes the medication so effective in treating severe depression.
“Sometimes, that can be a very powerful thing, that dissociation,” Kane said. “While you’re dissociating from your body, you may be dissociating [from] your mind as well. And, you may be able to see your problems and your issues that have really been consuming you as, ‘Yes, they’re still here, but now they’re over there. They’re in a little ball in the corner, and they don’t have the power over me anymore.’
“Sometimes, people can have very profound thoughts along those lines and realizations that they can take back to their therapy session, and [it] can be a really wonderful stepping stone for them to help maintain their relief.”

Dr. Gerard Sanacora, a psychiatry professor at the Yale School of Medicine, said little to no doubt remains about the rapid, robust anti-suicidal effect of ketamine. “I think the bigger question is: How do you maintain this? And how do you decide who is the best patient to receive this?”

Clinical studies have established that immediate side effects of ketamine can include increased heart rate and blood pressure. But Sanacora said further research is needed to determine the long-term cognitive impacts of ketamine treatment, as well as to develop standard dosing guidelines.
Sanacora, who is a co-author of “A Consensus Statement on the Use of Ketamine in the Treatment of Mood Disorders,” published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, said that “for the majority of people — not everybody — symptoms do tend to return after some period of time.”

At least as of now, more than two months since beginning ketamine therapy, Ferguson said he hasn’t had a single thought of taking his own life.
“It really is remarkable for me to be able to wake up and not be sorry I woke up in the morning,” he said. Still, Ferguson is keenly aware that the drug is not a miracle cure, and he will require ongoing care for the rest of his life.
After receiving a ketamine infusion in June, Ferguson thanked Kane not just for saving his life but for giving him a life he never knew was possible.

Why ‘getting lost in a book’ is so good for you, according to science

– Read original article here –

“Transportation” — or the act of losing yourself in a book — makes you more empathetic, more creative and (hello!) it’s an escape.

Whether you’re the reader who rips through a new book each week or the one still slogging through that bestseller your friend recommended months ago, psychologists (and their research) say your time is being well spent.

And if it’s been a while since your last date with a good book, the experts have a few reasons that might convince you to give it another go.

“One of the benefits to reading fiction is simply that it provides enjoyment and pleasure,” Melanie Green, PhD, associate professor in the department of communication at University at Buffalo, tells NBC News BETTER. “It can provide an escape from boredom or stress.”

Plus, reading has been shown to help us better understand and interact with other people, keep our brains sharp, expand our world views and grow as individuals, Green says. “Stories allow us to feel connected with others and part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Green researches the idea of “transportation” — or what makes it possible to get “lost in a book.” She says it’s more likely to happen if you’re reading a high-quality text, but “quality” in this case is subjective and something that gets determined by you. For some it’s a quick-moving plot that’s critical, while for others engaging characters or a poetic writing style is most important if you want to get lost in the storyline. And some people are just more interested in one type of story (romance, for instance) versus another (thriller), she adds.

Regardless of the specific volumes that suck you in the most, here are just some of the things that can happen when you get lost in a novel.

Stories about other people teach us to be the types of people we want to be

Reading makes us think and feel in new and different ways, explains Keith Oatley, PhD, professor emeritus in the department of applied psychology and human development at University of Toronto. “You give up some of your own habits and thoughts, and you take on your own idea of being a different person in circumstances that you might otherwise never had been in.”

Back in 2009, Oatley and his colleagues found that after reading one of two different versions of the same story — one an original piece of fiction and the other a retelling of the same story written in a non-fiction style — participants who read fiction changed in their personality traits more than those who read the non-fiction version of the story, and reported feeling higher levels of emotions.

Objectively, Oatley and his colleagues haven’t measured whether these changes might be labeled as “good” or “positive,” but he says to think about it in terms of personal growth akin to how we want kids to grow and develop in their own ways (not because society is telling them to be one person or another).

“It is very important in the social world to understand others, to understand ourselves, and not just get stuck,” he says.

Reading helps provide that sense of belonging that all humans need

Reading can give us a sense of belongingness that we all instinctively want as human beings, according to Green.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo showed in an experiment that reading actually satisfies that need for human connection because it can mimic what we feel during real social interactions. A group of 140 undergraduate students were asked to read either “Twilight” or “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for a half-hour. Afterward the students reported (psychologically-speaking) becoming part of the characters’ worlds during that time and having some of the same feelings of satisfaction and happiness that we get from real-world social interactions.

“Social connection is a strong, human need,” the study’s author Shira Gabriel, PhD, associate professor of psychology at UB, said in a press release shortly after the research was published. “Anytime we feel connected to others, we feel good in general and feel good about our lives.”

It bolsters all sorts of social skills

Reading fiction also helps us better understand, connect with and interact with others in the real world (after we put that book down).

“We get to enter the minds of these other people. And in doing that we understand other people better,” Oatley says. Research from he and his colleagues showed that people who reported reading the most fiction scored higher on both empathy tests and social ability tests.

Research shows that people who reported reading the most fiction scored higher on both empathy tests and social ability tests.

If you can identify with a character in some way, you actually get to lead a different life (temporarily and, of course, in a limited way), says Oatley. Multiple studies have replicated these findings, Oatley says. And data suggests the same area of the brain actually gets fired up when people read and comprehend fictional stories, as gets activated when we’re in the process of understanding other people.

Think of learning how to fly an airplane by using a flight simulator in addition to flying an actual plane. You get to encounter a lot of different scenarios where you’re completely safe, but you can learn a lot about what to do in an emergency, unusual weather conditions, and more. “Fiction is the mind’s flight simulator,” Oatley says.

And importantly, the research shows it’s reading fiction that improves empathy and not the other way around, Oatley adds. (It isn’t that people who are empathetic happen to prefer to read more.)

Reading is good for our brains and may even help us live longer

We’ve all heard from countless grade-school teachers that reading improves our vocabulary. But neuroscience research shows it’s good for other cognitive skills, too, by stimulating the neural networks in the brain that improve our social cognition and conceptual processing of abstract content. And evidence suggests that may have measurable benefits in terms of health.

“Reading, by engaging the brain, may keep the brain active enough to prevent cognitive decline that is associated with a variety of diseases associated with earlier mortality,” explains Avni Bavishi, an MD candidate at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

A 2013 study found that people who reported reading and doing other similarly cognitively stimulating activities throughout their lives had less cognitive decline compared with people who didn’t read or engage in other such stimulating activities as much. And a subsequent study by Bavishi and colleagues showed that people who report reading more actually live longer on average compared with individuals who didn’t report reading.

Getting lost in a good book provides the good kind of escape

And finally, if you need a break from the daily grind or everyday stressors, reading can take your mind away from what’s worrying you — in a good way — by letting you temporarily escape, Green says. “People who are absorbed in a story world aren’t ruminating on their own personal concerns.”

Studies show that several types of media, from books to TV shows to music, can definitely help with mood management.

Of course, ignoring a problem in the real world isn’t the answer, but spending too much time thinking about things that are out of your control (like current events, a pending job offer or family squabbles) isn’t good either, Green says. So the next time you’re feeling anxious or stressed, use it as an excuse to dust off the novel on your bedside table.

Out of the Darkness Ann Arbor Walk

“When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.”

Event Details…

Family and friends of Ben Price may join team Blackbird Ann Arbor to walk in Ben’s memory.

Thank you!

50 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature

1. “At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great”
—Willa Cather, My Antonia

2. “In our village, folks say God crumbles up the old moon into stars.”
—Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

3. “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.” —J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”

4. “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”
—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

6. “Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.”
—Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

7. “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

8. “What are men to rocks and mountains?”
—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

10. “‘Dear God,’ she prayed, ‘let me be something every minute of every hour of my life.’”
—Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

11. “The curves of your lips rewrite history.”
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

12. “A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

14. “As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these: a) Anything can happen to anyone. and b) It is best to be prepared.”
—Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

15. “If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me.” —W. H. Auden, “The More Loving One”

16. “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden

18. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet

19. “America, I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.” —Allen Ginsburg, “America”

20. “It might be that to surrender to happiness was to accept defeat, but it was a defeat better than many victories.”
—W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

22. “At the still point, there the dance is.” —T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”

23. “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
—Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

24. “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.”
—Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

26. “The pieces I am, she gather them and gave them back to me in all the right order.”
—Toni Morrison, Beloved

27. “How wild it was, to let it be.”
—Cheryl Strayed, Wild

28. “Do I dare / Disturb the universe?” —T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

30. “She was lost in her longing to understand.”
—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

31. “She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.” —Kate Chopin, “The Awakening”

32. “We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.”
—Tom Stoppard, Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead

34. “The half life of love is forever.”
—Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her

35. “I sing myself and celebrate myself.”
—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

36. “There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”
—Bram Stroker, Dracula

37. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”
—L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

38. “I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.” —Raymond Carver, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”

39. “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
—Charlotte Brontë , Jane Eyre

41. “I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams” —W. B. Yeats, “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”

42. “It frightened him to think what must have gone to the making of her eyes.”
—Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

43. “For poems are like rainbows; they escape you quickly.”
—Langston Hughes, The Big Sea

45. “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”
—Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

46. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

47. “Journeys end in lovers meeting.”
—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

49. “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

50. “One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
—Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices

List courtesy

Speak of me

Ah yes, all lies, God and man, nature and the light of day, the heart’s outpourings and the means of understanding, all invented, basely, by me alone, with the help of no one, since there is no one, to put off the hour when I must speak of me.

— Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable