I love epigraphs—in fact, the epigraph page might just be my favorite part of any given book. I look at these introductory quotations as a little clue into what the author wants their book to mean or as a frame for how to read the following pages. But ultimately, I think the coolest thing about epigraphs is that they pull a book into a universal conversation—they unite the new book with tradition and prove that no work stands alone. Here are some of my favorites.
8 Exquisite Epigraphs You Shouldn’t Overlook
“If there is a place further than me, I beg you please do not go.”
—Frank O’Hara, “Morning Poem”
Ever since childhood, Ida’s neighbors, the twin brothers Jackson and James, have always felt more like siblings to her than friends. But when Ida and Jackson realize the true extent of their feelings for each other, the dynamic of their tender makeshift family is thrown for a loop they may never recover from.
“Happily, happily foreverafterward—the best we could.”
—Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald
This alluring novel reimagines the life of the vivid, tragic, and completely incomparable Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, from the moment they first meet at a country club dance in 1918.
When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1918, the “ungettable” Zelda falls for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or even a Southerner, and he keeps insisting that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. What comes next, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time.
“That, finally, the door opens . . . and it opens outward—we’ve been inside what we wanted all along.”
—David Foster Wallace
Trend forecaster Sloane Jacobsen has always successfully predicted what will come next—but when she’s hired to lead a conference for tech giant Mammoth celebrating childlessness and the increasing depersonalization of the world at large, she can’t ignore the signs that the world is turning back to embrace real life human interaction and genuine compassion.
"I pray you, in your letters,
When you shale these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am."
—William Shakespeare, OTHELLO
HE CAREGIVER is a beautiful novel about a young woman who unearths her mother's hidden life—including involvement with a civil rebel group in 1908s Rio de Janeiro. Written with vivid imagery and subtle poignancy, this novel asks us who we are—as children and parents, immigrants and citizens, and ultimately, humans looking for vital connectivity.
“I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS
When the beautiful, troubled, and totally intoxicating Marlena moves to lonely Cat’s dead-end Michigan town, Cat’s life changes in ways she could have never predicted—at first thrilling, and then catastrophic.
“Food is all those substances which, submitted to the action of the stomach, can be assimilated or changed into life by digestion, and can thus repair the losses which the human body suffers through the act of living.”
— Brillat-Savarin, THE PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE
For Rose Edelstein’s ninth birthday, her mother bakes her a lemon cake. But when Rose takes her first taste, it’s not the tang of the lemon or the sweetness of sugar that stands out to her—but she finds she can taste her mother’s despair. Through her unique gift, Rose finds she can learn things about her family she would have never otherwise known.
“ “Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
Miller’s Valley is the only home Mimi Miller has ever known—but as she grows older, she begins to eavesdrop on her parents and subsequently starts to question the true nature of where she comes from.
“I wasted all your precious time
I wasted it on you.”
LOVE IS A MIX TAPE is music journalist Rob Sheffield’s moving memoir of his romance with his wife—from their first meeting through her sudden death—through a series of mixtapes is a poignant exploration of how much power music has on our lives.
Attention, suitors—I am such a sucker for a Spotify or YouTube playlist. If you are, too, you’ll love the memoir LOVE IS A MIX TAPE. Rob Sheffield brings readers back to the days of tape decks and Nirvana by talking us through the loves and losses he memorialized on fifteen of his favorite mix tapes.