Because I was a teenager in the early 2010s, Tumblr (for better or worse) was a defining part of my high school experience. It’s where my friends and I would share art aesthetics, post updates about our lives, and, of course, reblog memes.
A lot of memes that I saw on Tumblr were under the umbrella of what I would call “shitposts” — short, low-quality jokes that you could assume the author spend five seconds max thinking about before they posted. That was about as long as I would spend reading them, too, before either reblogging or scrolling further down my dashboard.
But sometimes, from these low-quality memes, you could find the most oddly intense and even profound lines. This phenomenon wasn’t limited to Tumblr, though it’s probably the place most known for it. Inspiration can come from strange places and, even out-of-context, many of these intense meme quotes hold up on their own.
Below are some of the best intense meme quotes I’ve seen, along with a book recommendation that offers a similar feeling. These recommendations range from fantasy to paranormal romance and dark academia, but each one is as thought-provoking and engaging as the quote with which it’s paired.
The Shadow Glass by Josh Winning
At once eerie and whimsical, this dark fantasy novel is an homage to ’80s cult classics like Labyrinth and The NeverEnding Story. It’s full of heart-stopping lines like the one above, with undercurrents of the feeling that there is a magic to life that defies understanding.
Following his disgraced filmmaker father’s death, Jack Corman would prefer to push away everything that reminds him of the past. But when Jack visits the childhood home he inherited, he discovers that the creatures from his father’s cult film The Shadow Glass are alive—and their world is in danger.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Because so much of this book explores healing and finding those who love you unconditionally after trauma, I thought it was a fitting pair for this quote. Light from Uncommon Stars follows Shizuka Satomi, a teacher of violin prodigies who is contracted to deliver each of her student’s souls to damnation in exchange for her own. But when her final student leads her to a found family that she never thought she could have, she must make a difficult choice that, no matter what, must end in sacrifice.
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston (July 5)
Disillusioned with love and maybe even life itself? Maybe this romantic paranormal read can help. When ghostwriter Florence Day returns home for her father’s funeral, she doesn’t expect to find the ghost of her new editor Benji standing out front of her family house. As Florence helps Benji resolve unfinished business so he can move on to the afterlife, unexpected feelings arise.
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
The first thing that came to my mind when I read the above shitpost quote was “dark academia.” This atmospheric mystery is one that blends passion and betrayal as a group of students at a theater conservatory begin to mirror the Shakespearean archetypes they play on the stage. Ten years later, one of the students — who has just been released from jail — unravels the events leading up to a murder during his final year at the conservatory.
The Old Woman with the Knife by Gu Byeong-mo, Translated by Chi-Young Kim
The Old Woman with the Knife features a hired assassin whose line of work requires her to prepare for danger in every situation. Now 65 years old, she takes on a job that may just destroy the career she’s spent decades building — if she survives at all.
The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd
The Cartographers is a fast-paced read with twists that challenge what you thought you understood at every corner. So much happens that I had to be careful with when I read it, as it would easily suck me in.
After her father’s untimely death, former cartography PhD student Nell Young revisits his old office at the New York Public Library where she was fired seven years ago. But when she discovers a rare map among his possessions — the same map that led to her firing — she unravels a series of secrets linked to her father’s past.
The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain (May 22)
When shy mail carrier Albert Entwistle is faced with his retirement, he finds the courage to come out as gay and work through decades of trauma from growing up in a homophobic family. One of the most beautiful and satisfying parts of Albert’s story is watching him build a sense of self-worth and discover that he is worthy of love as he reaches out and connects with those around him.
For the Wolf (Wilderwood #1) by Hannah Whitten
This first novel in a duology follows Red, a young woman with a powerful magic that defies the wishes of those who would prefer to stifle it. When Red is sacrificed to the Wolf who lives in the Wilderwood, she discovers that he is more human than her kingdom led her to believe.
Looking for personalized book recs? Check out Tailored Book Recommendations (TBR), a service that pairs readers with professional bibliologists who can help you find your next read based on what you’ve loved in the past.