When I covered my around-the-US reading project on my Butterfly Mind blog, I was reluctant to publish posts of favorite quotes. I thought, “Those aren’t my words – they don’t fit here.” Now that Andrea Reads America has its own site, I am breaking that silence. The authors’ original words do their work more justice than any book review I write, and when grouped together, the quotes become atmospheric of the state they are set in. I hope you enjoy this new addition to my Andrea Reads America coverage.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee book cover on andreareadsamerica.comFrom Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird


“Pass the damn ham please.”

“North Alabama was full of Liquor Interests, Big Mules, steel companies, Republicans, professors, and other persons of no background.”

“The class was wriggling like a bucketful of catawba worms.”

“Looks like if Mr. Arthur was hankerin’ after heaven he’d come out on the porch at least.”

“The usual crew had flunked the first grade again, and were helpful in keeping order.”

“Miss Maudie’s old sunhat glistened with snow crystals.”

“When Jem an’ I fuss Atticus doesn’t ever just listen to Jem’s side of it, he hears mine too.”

“Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an’ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home?”

“He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives.”


“That boy’s yo’ comp’ny and if he wants to eat up the table cloth you let him you hear?”


“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”

“I just hope that Jem and Scout come to me for their answers instead of listening to the town.”

“People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.”

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’ve been licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

“They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again and when they do it – seems that only children weep.”

Forrest Gump by Winston Groom book cover on andreareadsamerica.comFrom Winston Groom’s Forrest Gump

“Mos of them writer fellers got it straight – cause their idiots always smarter than people give em credit for.”

“‘The Romantic Period,’ [the professor] say, ‘did not follow a bunch of ‘classic bullshit.’ Nor were the poets Pope and Dryden a couple of ‘turds.””

“Bubba an me, we has got us a plan for when we get outta the Army. We gonna go back home an get us a srimp boat an get in the srimpin bidness.”

“Somewhere in all this, I got myself shot, an, as luck would have it, I was hit in the ass.”

“When the srimp bidness first started up, I kind of enjoyed the work, an goin down to the ponds an puttin up the nets an then harvestin the srimp an all… Now it aint nothing like that. I got to go to all sorts of dinner parties where people servin a lot of mysterious-lookin food and the ladies wearing big ole earrings an shit.”

“They was a nice breeze blowin off the bayou an you coud hear frawgs an crickets and even the soun of a fish jumpin ever once in a wile.”

“At night I would set out on the porch of the shack an play my harmonica an on Saturday night I would go into town an buy a six-pack of beer an me an Sue [the male oranguntan] would get drunk.”

Train Whistle Guitar by Albert Murray book cover on andreareadsamerica.comFrom Albert Murray’s Train Whistle Guitar

“You could smell the mid-May woods up the slope behind us then, the late late dogwoods, the early honey-suckles, and the warm earth-plus-green smell of the pre-summer undergrowth.”

“Woodpeckers always sounded as if they were out in the open in the very brightest part of the sunshine.”

“We were still in the bayou country, and beyond the train-smell there was the sour-sweet snakey smell of the swamp-land.”

“And as he talked, his voice uncle-calm and his facts first-hand and fresh from the getting-place, he kept reaching out every now and then to touch the guitar.”

“A preposition is relationship; and conjunction is membership; and interjection is the spirit of energy.”

“The light near the piano was bright enough for you to see them dancing and see Claiborne Williams at the keyboard with his hat cocked to the left and his wide silk four-in-hand tie flipped back over his right shoulder, spanking and tickling his kind of blues.”

“All he ever drank during the daylight hours was black coffee, but now he was holding the fruit jar of whiskey that he called his percolating juice, and every now and then one woman would take it and help herself to a sip and then hand it back and give him a kiss on the cheek.”

“Stagolee moved over to where the piano was and put his fruit jar on top of it and stood clapping his hands and snapping his fingers with the women around him doing the shimmieshewobble and the messaround.”

“Deljean McCray… was as cinnamon-bark brown as was the cinnamon-brown bark she was forever chewing and smelling like.”

6 thoughts on “Favorite quotes from Alabama literature

    1. Thanks Judy! Quotes are how I take notes about each book; I use an index card as a bookmark and when I come across a line I can’t live without, I write it on the index card. Now I have a stack of great literary quotes cataloged by state 🙂


  1. I forget just how wonderful the writing in To Kill A Mockingbird is but those quotes you chose are fantastic. Generally I’m not a fan of reading a written dialect but in both Mockingbird and Forrest Gump it works really well.

    I also love what you said above about making a note of quotes you really like, I tend to get to the end of a book and know that there were some brilliant ‘bons mots’ but not remember what or where they were 😦


    1. Recording quotes is something I had never done until I began this reading project, and it has opened my reading life in a wonderful way, especially since I depend so heavily on library loans. I cannot underline or keep the books on my shelf to thumb through and find favorite lines, so unless I write quotes down, I lose them. It was no big deal to lose track of great quotes in my pre-reading-project life, but now that I’m reading deliberately and writing about what I read, the quotes are my notes – they are the most direct device for helping me remember the work. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how vivid those memories are when I read the author’s own words.


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