Can You Guess the Famous Book from a Single Line?
Many of these romantic declarations, calls to action, and observations about the world can stand on their own. But can you figure out which well-known book they come from?
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Name the book!
A memorable quote in a book can grip readers, define a character, and even earn a major place in literary history. You’ve probably heard some of these famous lines from literature, but do you actually know which books they come from? We’ll give you three choices for each; see how many you can correctly identify (and maybe find a new must-read in the process)! More of a film buff? See if you can figure out what movies these famous lines come from.
This sounds like a line from a Gothic romance, all right…but which Gothic romance? Kudos if you knew that the impassioned couple this quote references is Catherine and Heathcliff from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost.”
A. The Fellowship of the Ring
B. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
C. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Fellowship of the Ring
You might have seen this in inspirational quote roundups and on Pinterest boards, but did you know which fantasy masterpiece it was from? This line, the start of a full poem, is from the first of the Lord of the Rings volumes by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.
You might have known this was the opening line from…something, but may not have known which book. Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick opens with the narrator giving this introduction, which is short and sweet. For better or worse, the same cannot be said for the rest of the book.
A Christmas Carol
Jacob Marley’s ghost pays a visit to Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ oft-adapted holiday tale A Christmas Carol. He’s the first of four ghosts to visit Scrooge and warn him to change his selfish ways before it’s too late.
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
A. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
B. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
C. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
OK, we snuck this one in for the Harry Potter fans—the real dedicated Harry Potter fans. You may have known this was a Harry Potter quote. You may even remember that it was the wise headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, who said it. But did you know which installment it comes from? If you knew it was from the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, you’re definitely ready to tackle our Harry Potter quiz that only die-hard fans can ace.
“Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.”
A. Of Mice and Men
Toni Morrison passed away in 2019, inspiring a new crop of people to read (or re-read!) her Pulitzer Prize-winning epic Beloved. Read Morrison’s thought-provoking essay about confronting evil here.
A Tale of Two Cities
The intro of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities goes on to list several more similar contradictions about these times, but, let’s be honest, the first pair is the only one non–classic literature fanatics remember.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
A. Oh, the Places You’ll Go
B. The Lorax
C. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
This quote comes toward the end of Dr. Seuss’s possibly-more-relevant-than-ever tale The Lorax. The faceless Once-ler, whose greed brought about the destruction of a once-vibrant ecosystem, begs his young visitor to avoid making the mistakes he made and be a force for good. Yup, this is a children’s book we’re talking about!
“Real courage is […] when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
A. The Catcher in the Rye
B. To Kill a Mockingbird
C. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
To Kill a Mockingbird
The central conflict of Harper Lee’s enduring classic To Kill a Mockingbird is how Atticus Finch defends a black man accused of a crime he didn’t commit in 1930s Alabama. But that’s not actually what Atticus is talking about in this quote. He’s referring to the family’s elderly neighbor who was battling a morphine addiction.
This three-part novel by Richard Wright, about a young black man caught in a cycle of violence and systemic racism, was ahead of its time. Native Son earned a spot on our list of books you really should have read by now.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
A. Pride and Prejudice
B. Sense and Sensibility
C. Great Expectations
Pride and Prejudice
This line opens Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and promises readers that they’re in for a tale of high-society courtship shenanigans. For some more famous book beginnings, see if you can identify which author wrote each of these enticing opening lines.
“Love is like the sea. It’s a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”
A. The Old Man and the Sea
B. Their Eyes Were Watching God
C. The Odyssey
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Did we trick you with the sea-related books here? Nope, this quote comes from Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston’s 1920s-set coming-of-age tale that is celebrated as a staple of both African American and women’s literature.
The Kite Runner
The narrator of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner ponders this during a conversation with his friend, a fellow kite runner, admitting that he “[ﬁnds] it hard to gaze directly at people like” him, unflinchingly honest people. No spoilers, but The Kite Runner is one of our must-read tearjerker books that will tug on your heartstrings long after you put them down.
“Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.”
A. Gulliver’s Travels
B. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
C. The Picture of Dorian Gray
Jonathan Swift brings up an interesting paradox with this line from Gulliver’s Travels, his 1726 satire of “travel diary”–style literature.
“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”
B. War and Peace
C. Lord of the Flies
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus has been read in countless English classes and inspired all sorts of adaptations (and contains this totally empowering, quotable line; who knew?!). Is it overrated? We don’t think so; it made our list of high school English books that deserve a post-school re-read.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, a supernaturally-tinged social commentary in which a young, good-looking man trades his soul for a painting that will age instead of him, has a lot to say about secrets, appearances, and mistakes. Here are some of the most quotable books of all time—and our favorite quote from each.
“I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
A. Tender is the Night
B. The Great Gatsby
C. The Catcher in the Rye
The Great Gatsby
And…there it is! F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, one of the best-known “great American novels,” has no shortage of lavish Roaring ’20s party scenes. And it’s Gatsby himself who makes this seemingly contradictory statement. Get ready for some laughs with these hilariously bad working titles of classic books.
“Promise me you’ll remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
B. Charlotte’s Web
C. Little Women
Here’s another touching, ultra-quotable bit of wisdom that you may have heard time and time again without actually knowing its origin. Christoper Robin says it to Pooh in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, the first-ever appearance of everyone’s favorite silly old bear. The book, first published in 1926, remains a classic of children’s literature to this day. Find out more of our picks for the best children’s books ever written.
“To be or not to be” might be the quote that comes to mind when you think of Hamlet—and Hamlet is probably not the William Shakespeare work you’d guess a romantic line like this would appear in. But in Act 2, Scene 2, Polonius reads this line from a letter written by Hamlet to Ophelia.