COLUMN: Quotes from literature that inspired me during quarantine


Since childhood, I found best friends in words. Whenever I fell ill or felt lonely, stories pulled me into their world, dazzling me with the beauty of language. Although the quarantine instilled in me a lot of uncertainty and fear, it has enabled me to forge a more intimate relationship with words. Whenever the chaos of the pandemic felt too overwhelming to handle, or simply yearned to escape again, I held onto them. The beauty of words, I have discovered, is that they transcend space and time. They carry wisdom, truth, and spill with magic that heals and conquers. During quarantine, I have found quotes-through books I have read and favorite authors I have rediscovered-that sustained and illuminated me, stars that pierced through the darkness of our time and cast me in their light. I hope that they may touch you similarly or simply open your eyes to a new chapter in your life.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”-Roald Dahl

Since elementary school, when I became acquainted with the lovely and whimsical worlds crafted by Roald Dahl, I have always felt an insatiable joy and healing in his writing. Spanning from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the BFG, Dahl’s novels have gripped me with their sparkling humor and childlike sense of wonder that reverberated through the pages. Dancing with magic and truth, their words still touch me today. Upon re-reading my favorite of his works, Matilda, I felt compelled to research more about Dahl. I stumbled upon this quote, which helped me to realize the beauty of the world around me that persisted amid the pandemic. As an introvert, I would much rather spend time cooped up in my bed, snuggling with a good book than outside. However, when pulled for a family walk, the magic of nature around me enchanted me, reminding me of Dahl’s words. As I walked alongside the queenlike trees and the beautifully fragile cherry blossoms infused me with their spell, I felt like a child again. I spilled with laughter and my mind raced with imaginary stories. That evening, strung with the truth in Dahl’s words, enabled me to understand the sheer magic our world eternally holds, that no pandemic could rob. Childhood and imagination and nature still wait for us-we only need to be open to the world and its magic.

“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”-Charles Dickens

I remember being a freshman, the day before Great Expectations was due, desperately attempting to race through the pages while drowning in quicksands of procrastination. The overwhelming fear that I would not finish still feels so alive in my memory. But, with time, Dickens’ writing eventually captured me with its beauty and I became so immersed in the story that my worries dissolved. As I rose and fell with the characters, discovering the importance of staying true to oneself, I felt transformed. As night dawned and I had reached the novel’s ending scene, these words struck me with their scintillating hope. Although I have not read Dickens’ novels in years, its message still rings with truth, especially today. The quarantine may have splintered us with uncertainty and agony, but it has not shattered us. The quarantine has enabled me to realize what matters most—the meaningful moments, filled with the beauty of nature, connecting with family, and learning. It enabled me to discover a newfound sense of resilience that always echoed inside. We can learn, and conquer, the darkness, allowing it to forge in us a brighter inner light.

“From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be the blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king”-J.R.R. Tolkein

I still vividly recall the day my fourth-grade teacher introduced us to the world of Tolkein, endowing the chalkboard with the words “all that glitters is not gold”. While I always interpreted them as a warning that not everything beautiful holds worth, can destroy—I hadn’t taken the time to dwell on the rest of Tolkien’s words. While perhaps they can present a warning, they also carry a shimmering pearl of hope. That, even though our days may feel ashen with despair, they can still radiate, brimming with meaning and laughter and fullness. When I had recently learned the rest of Tolkien’s words, they touched me. I realized that, despite death and fear, hope and truth can prevail: a new fire can be born. Endless stars trail our future with unknown chapters and dreams waiting to come to life. We can defeat the hopelessness in our lives, strengthened by our resilience and jeweled with a brighter sense of fortitude. The blades in our life broken by the virus, in time, can resurrect if we cling to hope, life, and love.