Favourite Quotes: The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak.

“Above her, the moon, a sickle of silver, hid behind a cloud, and for a fleeting instant, in slate-grey, the sky and the earth were welded together.”


“Humans are frightened of animals but we are cruel, not they. A crocodile or a lion . . . None of them are as wild as we are…If we don’t disturb them, they won’t disturb us. But humans are not like that. Whether or hungry or not, man is prone to evil. Where would you sleep more peacefully? Next to a stranger with a full belly or next to a well-fed lion?”

“Masters are great but books are better. He who has a library has a thousand teachers.”

“Sometimes, for the soul to thrive, the heart needs to be broken, son.”

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

“Busbecq believed there were two blessings in life: books and friends. And that they should be possessed in inverse quantities: many books, but only a handful of friends.”

“That was the thing about colossal buildings. While they did not change, the people who ordered, designed, built and eventually used them constantly did.”

“I didn’t say are you a student. I asked, are you a learner? Not every pupil is a learner.”

“Fall on your knees and thank Allah.”

“Water is a charity and must be distributed generously.”

“And, once again, Jahan could not believe how suddenly the public mood changed from sorrow to rejoicing, how quickly their river of tears ran dry. If they moved between gloom and glee with such ease, did this mean they could pass from love to hatred just as effortlessly?”

“The fire had been a teacher, true. But Istanbul, where forgetting was easier than remembering, never learned its lesson.”

“…everything was put in order by God for human beings to see, study and contemplate.”

“Nothing ruins the human soul more than hidden resentment.”

“Strangely, it didn’t make him feel sad. That would come later, he knew. Sadness was always belated.”

“Wisdom does not rain from the sky, it springs from the earth, from hard work.”

“Some cities you go to because you want to; some cities you go to because they want you to.”

 Finally, from Elif Shafak herself:

‘May the world flow like water’, Sinan used to say. I can only hope that this story, too, will flow like water in the hearts of its readers.


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