The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.
"I wonder," he broke out, "why you don't go back?"
Her eyes darkened, and he expected an indignant rejoinder. But she sat silent, as if thinking over what he had said, and he grew frightened lest she should answer that she wondered too.
At length she said: "I believe it's because of you."
It was impossible to make the confession more dispassionately or in a tone less encouraging to the vanity of the person addressed. Archer reddened to the temples but dared not move or speak: it was as if her words had been some rare butterfly that the least motion might drive off on startled wings, but that might gather a flock about it if it were left undisturbed.
Uh-oh by Robert Fulghum
What do I really have to have, day by day, to get by?
I always think about that phrase when I'm putting my gear together for a long backpacking trip. If I'm going to carry everything I need on my back for a couple of weeks in the mountains, then great care must be taken in choosing what is essential and what is not. About fifty pounds of provisions and gear are all I can comfortably carry. The packing itself becomes focused on economy, efficiency and well-being. I think in elemental terms. Water. Fire. Shelter. Food. Protection from wind, rain, heat and cold. First Aid. Knife. And tools to find my way - compass and map. The quality of the trip depends a great deal upon what I can live without.
The Green Door by O. Henry
In the big city the twin spirits Romance and Adventure are always abroad seeking worthy wooers. As we roam the streets they slyly peep at us and challenge us in twenty different guises. Without knowing why, we look up suddenly to see in a window a face that seems to belong to our gallery of intimate portraits; in a sleeping thoroughfare we hear a cry of agony and fear coming from an empty and shuttered house; instead of at our familiar curb a cab-driver deposits us before a strange door, which one, with a smile, opens for us and bids us enter; a slip of paper, written upon, flutters down to our feet from the high lattices of Chance; we exchange glances of instantaneous hate, affection, and fear with hurrying strangers in the passing crowds; a sudden souse of rain - and our umbrella may be sheltering the daughter of the Full Moon and first cousin of the Sidereal System; at every corner handkerchief drop, fingers bekon, eyes besiege, and the lost, the lonely, the rapturous, the mysterious, the perilous changing clues of adventure are slipped into our fingers. But few of us are willing to hold and follow them. We are grown stiff with the ramrod of convention down our backs. We pass on; and some day we come, at the end of a very dull life, to reflect that our romance has been a pallid thing of a marrige or two, a satin rosette kept in a safe-deposit drawer, and a lifelong feud with a steam radiator.
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
...........She was the first fine woman he ever knew and one of the few good people who ever interested him. She made her goodness such an asset. Amory had decided that most good people either dragged theirs after them as a liability, or else distorted it to artificial geniality, and of course there were the ever-present prig and Pharisee - (but Amory never included them as being among the saved).
And my favorite book of all -
The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery
When it was over something had happened to Valancy--perhaps the culmination of the process that had been going on in her mind ever since she had read Dr. Trent's letter. It was three o'clock in the morning--the wisest and most accursed hour of the clock. But sometimes it sets us free.
"I've been trying to please other people all my life and failed," she said. "After this I shall please myself. I shall never pretend anything again. I've breathed an atmosphere of fibs and pretences and evasions all my life. What a luxury it will be to tell the truth! I may not be able to do much that I want to do but I won't do another thing that I don't want to do. Mother can pout for weeks--I shan't worry over it. 'Despair is a free man--hope is a slave.'"