#1: ‘You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love. ‘
At their core, the most popular The Notebook quotes seem to be about love (shocker!) and what we wish could be vs. what is, and this line’s arguably the biggest example of that.
Cliché? Yes. That’s one of the most commonly used tropes in paperback, period. Even so, however, exploiting clichéd love quotes is nothing new. Everyone from Shakespeare and Austen to the Beatles and Justin Bieber have done it.
It really is a matter of execution—you have to present them in such a way as to please and cleanse the palate, lest your ideas come across as seeming…well, not so fresh. (We’re looking at you, Mr. My World.)
Then again, when it comes to music, lyrics are only part of the story; the Beatles’ early songs were far from lyrical marvels, but that iconic harmonizing and those catchy beats help the songs stay fresh and lively, even fifty years later.
By contrast, literature, for the most part, is all about words, words, words, and that hoes a long way to explaining why The Notebook quotes create such a sharp divide—for some, it’s music to their ears, for others, it’s all the monotonous, atonal agony of fingernails scratching against a blackboard, over…and over…and over.
Sparks’ novel is, in a sense, escapist, meaning that a line like this can leave you crying so good not because it’s original, but because it’s such an old desire. Sometimes we just want to be selfish and have what WE want, even if it hurts some people.
In reality, that can be messy and have disastrous consequences. In The Notebook quotes like this, however, there ARE no consequences to you, the reader, and so you’re free to revel in your inner amorous selfishness.