Popular Highlights

Have you ever used the Highlight feature on your Kindle? This nifty feature allows you as a reader to mark passages that you liked or want to remember. It aggregates them for you in a file called “My Clippings”. 

While I am sure it is very useful for students who are reading text books, what I want to talk about is the social aspects of the Highlight feature.

You see, Amazon aggregates passages that people are highlighting and marks them in the books. If you have it set to view popular highlights (Menu > Settings > Reading Options > Popular Highlights) while you are reading, you will see a passage highlighted and it will list the number of other people who have highlighted that passage.  There seems to be a threshold of at least 3 people marking a passage before it shows up.

It’s fascinating to look at what other people are marking in a book. As a writer, it is like a secret look into what passages most resonate with your readers.

Anyway, I needed to look up something in Threads That Bind the other day and I realized that there were several passages that had reached the threshold and had visible highlights. I immediately had to flip through the entire book and see what passages my readers had marked. And then of course, I had to do the same thing with Unbound. (We author types tend to be a bit obsessive.) It was a very interesting experience. Many of the marked passages were lines that I would have marked. However, there were lines that readers marked that I didn’t think much about at the time, and other lines that I really liked that hadn’t yet had 3 highlights.

Anyway, I thought you might get a kick out of seeing which passages were popular highlights. I put them in descending order with the most marked passages (number of marks in parentheses) at the top and the least at the bottom.

Threads That Bind

n  The joy of life is not in the experience itself, but sharing that experience with those you love. When those you love are dead, all that remains are those you are bound to by duty.” (15)

n  I wondered if Einstein had considered the rate of spreading gossip when declaring that nothing was faster than the speed of light. (14)

n  I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. He was just a boy. He was just a boy. He was just a boy. Oh, who was I kidding? He wasn’t just a boy. He was the boy.  (10)

n  “That’s like feeling bad for a serial killer because he got rope burn tying his victim up.” (9)

n  This was high school. The odds of any relationship lasting past graduation were about the same as being struck by lightning the same day you won the lottery. (8)

n  Emotionally she seemed about as stable as someone standing on a floor covered in greased marbles during a particularly violent earthquake. (8)

n  “Not really. Truth is highly overrated. I’ve had enough truth to last me three lifetimes. These days, I prefer a good socially-acceptable lie to the less-pleasant alternatives.” (6)

n  It was as though we were meant to be together, two separated halves coming together for the first time – inevitable, wonderful, perfect. (6)

n  “That’s right. An emotionally stunted little boy who clearly is incapable of a meaningful relationship. In twenty years, after a series of failed relationships, he’ll find himself alone and so miserable that he’ll finally enter therapy and realize that breaking up with you was the beginning of his life of misery.” She paused, and when she saw my bemused expression added, “And he’s a jerk.” (5)

n  “Your wish is my command.” He paused for a moment. “Or at least one piece of information I’ll consider before doing whatever I feel like.” (5)


n  Did I really just thank my boyfriend for letting me beat up a bunch of guys who are accosting us in a bad part of Mexico? (8)

n  “Sane people are in bed now.” “Ah,” said Eric. “That would explain why I’m out of bed.” (7)

n  “We? Wait, you’re coming too?”  “Of course, you didn’t think I was going to let you go down to Mexico without me?” Or maybe things hadn’t changed that much. (6)

n  “…the only way to get through these kinds of trials is to keep yourself immersed in life. Life heals.” (4)

n  Just when I think I have things figured out people change, and I have to start all over again. (3)

n  “Shakespeare’s As you Like It: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts…” (3)

n  I really liked the fact that he could admit when he was wrong. That was a trait that seemed to be in short supply in the male gender … (3)

So, what I want to know is: what are your favorite passages? Are they listed here? Were some missing? Which ones? If you ever do a reread and decide to mark some passages, know that I will be looking from time to time to see what resonates with my readers.

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