My Favorite Kindle EBook Highlights

Mark Twain writes a play with Bret Harte

I really enjoyed reading Amazon’s lists of the most highlighted passages from e-books. It got me thinking about what passages I’ve highlighted
     — and it turns out it’s a pretty strange mix!

Today I couldn’t stop myself from reading through them all again — everything I’d ever identified as one of my favorite passages in a Kindle ebook. Each one had been carefully flagged on my Kindle as a special passage — something worth saving for later — but the day had finally come when I’d review the entire collection! It was like a secret history of the world — random moments of joy and precious memories, some preserved for over a century. Some were funny, some were wise, but each one offered yet-another glimpse into the whole “human experience”.

I had a lot of fun reading them — and I decided I wanted to share them.


“It was a golden afternoon. The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying; out of thick orchards on either side the road, birds called and whistled to them cheerily; good-natured wayfarers, passing them, gave them ‘Good-day,’ or stopped to say nice things about their beautiful cart; and rabbits, sitting at their front doors in the hedgerows, held up their fore-paws, and said, ‘O my! O my! O my!'”

     — from The Wind in the Willows

“It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North-Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America, in quest of the country of Kentucke

     — from Life and Adventures of Colonel Daniel Boone

“The history of civilisation is a history of wandering, sword in hand, in search of food.”

     — from A Collection of Stories by Jack London

“Red Lake must be his Rubicon. Either he must enter the unknown to seek, to strive, to find, or turn back and fail and never know and be always haunted.

“Once in his life he had answered a wild call to the kingdom of adventure within him, and once in his life he had been happy.”

“…in the lonely days and silent nights of the desert he had experienced a strange birth of hope.”

     — from The Rainbow Trail by Zane Grey

“De Soto merely glimpsed the river, then died and was buried in it by his priests and soldiers. One would expect the priests and the soldiers to multiply the river’s dimensions by ten — the Spanish custom of the day — and thus move other adventurers to go at once and explore it.”

“Apparently nobody happened to want such a river, nobody needed it, nobody was curious about it; so, for a century and a half the Mississippi remained out of the market and undisturbed.”

     — from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

“The early colonists of Virginia were not very well fitted for such a work. Some of them were gentlemen who had never labored with their hands; others were poor, idle fellows whose only wish was to do nothing whatever… Of the first thousand colonists not one hundred lived to tell the tale of those early days.”

     — from A Short History of the United States by Edward Channing

“one of them shot a deer, great numbers of which overrun the islands and hills of San Francisco Bay… If California ever becomes a prosperous country, this bay will be the centre of its prosperity.”

     — from Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana

“Last spring, 1846, was a busy season in the City of St. Louis. Not only were emigrants from every part of the country preparing for the journey to Oregon and California, but an unusual number of traders were making ready their wagons and outfits for Santa Fe.”

     — from The Oregon Trail: sketches of prairie and Rocky-Mountain life

“Passports are only good for annoying honest folks, and aiding in the flight of rogues.”

     — from Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days

“At the period when these events took place, I had just returned from a scientific research in the disagreeable territory of Nebraska, in the United States.”

     — from Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne


“My brother had, in 1720 or 1721, begun to print a newspaper. It was the second that appeared in America, and was called the New England Courant. The only one before it was the Boston News-Letter. I remember his being dissuaded by some of his friends from the undertaking, as not likely to succeed, one newspaper being, in their judgment, enough for America.”

“By the same wife [my father] had four children more born there, and by a second wife ten more, in all seventeen; of which I remember thirteen sitting at one time at his table, who all grew up to be men and women, and married”

“In the mean time, that hard-to-be-governed passion of youth hurried me frequently into intrigues with low women that fell in my way, which were attended with some expense and great inconvenience…”

     — from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin



“Take my word for it, the silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool.”

“she, after a while, fell in love with him because she could not understand him.”

     — from Rudyard Kipling’s Plain Tales from the Hills


“And over this, no longer bright,
Though glimmering with a latent light,
Was hung the sword his grandsire bore,
In the rebellious days of yore,
Down there at Concord in the fight.”


     — from Tales of a Wayside Inn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



“But whatever he wrote, and in whatever fashion, Presley was determined that his poem should be of the West, that world’s frontier of Romance, where a new race, a new people—hardy, brave, and passionate—were building an empire…”

“He searched for the True Romance, and, in the end, found grain rates and unjust freight tariffs.”

     — from The Octopus : A story of California by Frank Norris



“I have observed that as a man advances in life, he is subject to a kind of plethora of the mind, doubtless occasioned by the vast accumulation of wisdom and experience upon the brain. Hence he is apt to become narrative and admonitory, that is to say, fond of telling long stories, and of doling out advice, to the small profit and great annoyance of his friends.”

     — from Wolfert’s Roost and Miscellanies by Washington Irving


“Do not forget me! Tell them in the jungle never to forget me!”

“They boast and chatter and pretend that they are a great people about to do great affairs in the jungle, but the falling of a nut turns their minds to laughter and all is forgotten.”

     — from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

“Such a fire will keep all night, with very little replenishing; and it makes a very sociable camp-fire, and one around which the most impossible reminiscences sound plausible, instructive, and profoundly entertaining.”

“it only added to our comfort to think of those people out there at work in the murky night, and we snug in our nest with the curtains drawn.”

     — from Mark Twain’s Roughing It

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