I read a lot of books but the ones that really stick are the ones where I copy and paste text in my journal. I somehow consider this blog to be my public journal and apart from a way to communicate with you it is also a means of taking notes for myself (and sharing them with you).

“The only Story” by Julian Barnes is one of the few books I rated five stars at Goodreads. Because some of the pages I read over and over again. In some paragraphs I assess every word. For me the best books are the ones I go back to from time to time to reread the specific passages.

julian barnes the only story

Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less ? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.

*

First love fixes a life for ever : this much I have discovered over the years. It may not outrank subsequent loves, but they will always be affected by its existence. It may serve as model, or as counterexample. It may overshadow subsequent loves; on the other hand it can make them easier, better. Though sometimes, first love cauterizes the heart, and all any searcher will find thereafter is scar tissue.

*

Good sex is better than bad sex. Bad sex is better than no sex, except when no sex is better than bad sex. Self-sex is better than no sex, except when no sex is better than self-sex. Sad sex is always far worse than good sex, bad sex, self-sex and no sex. Sad sex is the saddest sex of all.

*

It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

*

The cure for sex is marriage; the cure for love is marriage; the cure for infidelity is divorce; the cure for unhappiness is work; the cure for extreme unhappiness is work; the cure for extreme unhappiness is drink; the cure for death is a frail belief in the afterlife.

A note from myself :

Looking back at what I have read over the last few months a lot was about love and marriage :  “South and West : from a notebook” by Joan Didion,  “The Sparsholt Affair” by Alan Hollinghurst, “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer, “The Cost of Living” by Deborah Levy, …  And one thing became clear : love and marriage are not always the same. No, love and marriage don’t always go together like a horse and carriage.

Julian Barnes, “The Only Story”, Jonathan Cape London, 2018