When I read, I take notes, I underline sentences and paragraphs, and often, if I don't want to interrupt the reading flow, I just jot down the page number when there is something I know I will want to come back to. I have a notebook by my bedside just for that purpose.
There are excerpts that are moving or thought-provoking, or it may be the beauty of a certain arrangement of words. I keep them all in various books and folders and I love revisiting them; they take me back to the book in question, to a particular time in my life, and they trigger feelings, ideas and new ways of thinking. Some seem so familiar, others surprise me on re-reading.
And then there are those that I know by heart and they keep returning and I cannot get them out of my head for weeks.
Recently these two passages have been haunting me:
"It's not that. Honestly. It's just that I don't know who you are."
There was a silence. "Don't talk riddles," he whispered.
"I'm not. I really don't know who you are."
If he couldn't see her face, at least he could touch it. He did so with a blind man's delicacy, drawing his fingertips from her temple down into the hollow of her cheek.
"And even if I did," she said, "I'm afraid it wouldn't help, because you see I don't know who I am, either."
(p. 262, Yates, Richard: Revolutionary Road, Vintage, London 2009) *
"I once started to work from a model and I was painting her breasts one day when I had the extremely strange feeling that there was nothing there. Two days later, she committed suicide."
(pp. 115f., Gayford, Martin: Man With a Blue Scarf. On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud, Thames and Hudson, London 2010)
[* Yates on his central theme: "If my work has a theme, I suspect it is a simple one: that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy."]