9 of our favorite book scenes of all time
By: Adam Sockel, co-host of the Professional Book Nerds podcast and lover of nonsense.
“Why is a raven like a writing desk?”
My style of writing is often described around our office as whimsical. I have long been fond of sentences that paint a picture and leave space for wonderment. My love for the impossible in literature stems from a childhood filled to the brim with Seussian rhymes, poems that begin where the sidewalk ends and, of course, unsolvable riddles. Riddles whose answers can only be discovered if you’re as mad as a hatter. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland have been a part of my life longer than I can remember and The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party has always been my favorite moment of the book. In fact, my wife and I had a Wonderland-themed wedding on 10/6. I even have a Mad Hatter’s hat tattoo on my side to commemorate the day.
Books, as a whole, have the ability to shape our childhoods and help establish our literary preferences but sometimes a book scene becomes so ingrained in our minds that it becomes part of who we are. For me personally, thanks to the Mad Hatter, I’ve long wondered, “Why exactly IS a raven like a writing desk?”, I remain respectful of time and, regardless of how much knowledge I gain, I know it’s always best to remain curiouser and curiouser…
Here are some other of Team OverDrive’s favorite book scenes (some potential spoilers for older books ahead):
Andrea – The ending scene in The Kiss of Deception by Mary. E. Pearson
I have an offensive amount of memorable scenes and it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. It’s like someone asking me to pick my favorite book. Or my favorite episode of Friends. The tricky part is that a lot of these scenes are so far past the spoiler line, you can’t even see the line. The line is a dot to you. (See what I did there?) However, the first scene that popped into my head was the ending of The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. I can’t tell you how many times I reread that last chapter. It’s so perfect. Even with the cliffhanger, I wasn’t mad. Normally cliffhangers drive me to the brink of insanity, but something about this one is so beautiful and so wonderful that I didn’t care. This is definitely a series you do not to miss out on.
Rachel – Theo and Boris wandering the desert in The Goldfinch by Donna Tart
Theo and Boris ambling around the Las Vegas desert in Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is my favorite scene from a book. Granted, it’s a long scene, but Tartt perfectly captures the aimlessness of adolescence – yearning for freedom and adventure yet craving love and attention from your parents. Boris and Theo are two of my favorite characters ever written, and watching their friendship form and evolve is brilliant.
Melinda – Mr. Bennet reveals his true nature in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I absolutely love Mr. Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. While many readers find him to be an indifferent parent at best, and neglectful at worst, I find him to be very witty and very funny, which is something you often don’t get in books from that time period, and very caring in his own way. One of my absolute favorite scenes is when Mrs. Bennet insists he make Lizzy marry Mr. Collins, and threatens that she will never see her again if Lizzy does not agree. Mr. Bennet says to Lizzy, “From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.” The scene is hilarious, and it shows that Mr. Bennet does care deeply for his daughter’s happiness.
Christina – The jawdropping reveal at the end of Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
In Fight Club, when the narrator realizes it was his action all along that lead to fight club’s creation and project mayhem (even though we’re not supposed to talk about that). When Marla makes her way to the top of the roof, with the support groups behind her, and she asks him to wait, because it isn’t love or anything but she thinks she like him too. When he pulls the trigger anyway. And of course, afterward, when he talks to “God”. Palahniuk gives us one of the best plot climaxes around and it doesn’t hurt that the move version set it all to “Where is my mind?” by the Pixies. Epic.
(And because every book list needs a Harry Potter mention)
When Harry learns about ghosts in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
When Harry asks Nearly Headless Nick about being a ghost and why the dead rarely choose that sort of life. He was missing Sirius and hoping he’d get the chance to see him again. Harry questions where we go, why we go, why some of don’t choose to stay. It all pitted down to: why do people die? I had just lost someone, the first big grief of my life, and this small scene captured so much of what I was feeling. I still remember setting the book down and realizing I was crying. It was sad, yes, but it helped to know that I wasn’t alone in it.
Jill – Kvothe’s first time in the Archives in Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind
Kvothe is a little too clever for his own good, but it serves him well when he has to bluff his way into the university. Once admitted, all he wants to do is get into the Archives and study from the thousands of books available. But then he runs into Ambrose (another student destined to be his nemesis) who ruins Kvothe’s first visit in a way that will break the heart of every bookworm and library lover out there.
Quinton – Bullies in the shower from Ender’s Game
The first thing that leapt to mind was the shower scene in Ender’s Game. It’s the scene where a bunch of bullies corner Ender in the showers at Battle School. They intend to possibly kill Ender, but he’s been preparing for it, and is ready for him. He ends up killing one of his attackers as he defends himself (though the school tries to hide it, and Ender has trouble facing it, deep down he knows he killed), and it’s a transformative moment for Ender.
It’s a tragic scene too, because of how young these kids are, and the fact they’ve been encouraged to these heights of violence. It’s a jarring commentary on how we treat war as a society.
(It’s my list so I get to add one more…)
Adam – May 8th in Jonathan Harker’s Diary from Dracula by Brom Stoker
In the span of little more than a few sentences, Stoker shows us that Dracula has no reflection, goes crazy at even the sight or thought of blood and fears crucifixes. Dracula nearly kills Harker but Harker, having been isolated and confused through his nocturnal life in the castle, handles this nonchalantly. He’s more mystified and confused than scared. Shortly after, Harker first realizes his imprisonment and the fact that he cannot leave of his own accord. This scene begins to uncover the breadth of Harker’s isolation and Dracula’s cunning, mindset and evil.