The 21 Most Beautiful Lines I Read in 2021

From Jhumpa Lahiri to Donna Tartt, these are the passages that stuck with me this year

Kolina Cicero
8 min readDec 31, 2021


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Last December, after enduring the year everybody loves to hate, I dug up the 20 most beautiful lines I had read. It was a process of mining for beauty in a time that needed it, and it proved to be highly beneficial to me. Looking for the most beautiful passages I read sunk me back into some spectacular prose and provided me with several minutes of respite. Additionally, I challenged myself to write out why those specific lines resonated with me, which solidified the learning for each passage.

To continue on with this ritual, which I foresee myself doing in perpetuity, here are the 21 most beautiful lines I read in 2021, plus why I underlined them:

“And, lying on my bed in some frigid biscuit-colored hotel room in Nice, with a balcony facing the Promenade des Anglais, I watch the clouds reflected on sliding pane and marvel how even my sadness can make me happy.”

— The Goldfinch | Donna Tartt

Why I underlined it: I had never read Donna Tartt until 2021, during which time I consumed everything she has written. I think she is one of the most brilliant writers of our time. Her prose bleeds beauty. I have so many passages underlined in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Goldfinch, that to choose which one to highlight here, I just opened the book to a random page and copied down what I had underlined. One of Tartt’s sentences does the job of most other writers’ entire paragraphs. The one above is just one small example of her infinite heart-wrenchingly beautiful — and sometimes beautiful in a gross, biscuit-colored way — prose.

“Books and ideas are like blood; they need to circulate, and they keep us alive.”

— The Paris Library | Janet Skeslien Charles

Why I underlined it: Because I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment. And while it’s not the most beautiful sentence in…



Kolina Cicero