‘Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — "God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”’

God Bless You, Mr Rosewater

‘We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.’

Mother Night

‘Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.’

Slaughterhouse Five

‘“Of course it is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn’t meant to be reasonable.”’

Breakfast of Champions

‘We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane’

Breakfast of Champions

‘I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, “Please – a little less love, and a little more common decency.”’

Slapstick, or Lonesome No More

‘Many people need desperately to receive this message: “I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.”’


‘When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”’

Advice to the graduating class of Agnes Schott College, Decatur, Georgia, 1999

‘If we are wounded by an ugly idea, we must count it as part of the cost of freedom and, like American heroes in the days gone by, bravely carry on.’

‘The Idea Killers’ essay, 1984

‘And how should we behave during this Apocalypse? We should be unusually kind to one another, certainly. But we should also stop being so serious. Jokes help a lot. And get a dog, if you don’t already have one.’

‘The Idea Killers’ essay, 1984

‘So it goes.’

Slaughterhouse Five

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