50 of the Best Book Quotes from Our Favorite Books
These books—both new and old, fiction and non-fiction—are packed cover-to-cover with thought-provoking bits of wisdom, wit, and universal truths.
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Wisdom from literature
Books can teach us so many things. Sure, they can relay interesting facts and information—but some of the best pieces of literature also offer wisdom and insights from their authors. In that way, certain books become friends that we can consult throughout our lives for guidance and advice. Just think about the number of books you have on your bookshelf that you’re saving to re-read at a later date.
Ahead, we’ve found the best book quotes that will make you stop and think. No matter which genres are your favorite—whether you consider yourself a history buff, a science-fiction nerd, or memoir fan—there are tons of books for readers of all ages that offer profound advice within their pages. Want to expand your reading list but don’t want to spend a ton of cash? Make sure you know the 15 places you can read books online for free.
Jazz by Toni Morrison
“Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.”
This powerful book quote from writer Toni Morrison flips the concept of “falling in love” on its head. For more insights that will change your worldview, don’t miss the 35 life-changing quotes you’ll never forget.
The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper
“Forgiveness condones nothing, but it does cast off the chains of anger, judgment, resentment, denial, and pain that choke growth. In this way, it allows for life, for freedom. So that’s what’s at stake when it comes to forgiveness: freedom. With this freedom, we can feel better, be better, and choose better next time.”
Letting go of the past can absolutely change your life. Learn how to do it more easily with these 14 steps to forgive anyone for anything.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
“Home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.”
Take time to reflect on your closest familial ties with these 20 family quotes that hit close to home.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”
Observing the natural world by taking walks, hikes, and even just looking at pictures can bring us so much joy as this best book quote so eloquently experiences. For more ways to appreciate it, read these 50 beautiful quotes about nature.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
The Life of Pi is a classic novel that reminds us that an incredible book can open us up to new worlds and ideas. These 40 reading quotes celebrate all that and more.
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
“Enthusiasm makes up for a host of deficiencies.”
President Barack Obama gave us so many important speeches and quotes. For more insights from the former first family, don’t miss the 25 most inspiring Michelle Obama quotes.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
“How you live your life is your business. But remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. Most of us can’t help but live as though we’ve got two lives to live, one is the mockup, the other the finished version, and then there are all those versions in between.”
So many of the most inspiring book quotes are about living in the present moment. Want to do that more often? Take a minute to appreciate the 50 best simple pleasures in life.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
“You’d be surprised how quickly the mind goes soggy in the absence of other people. One person alone is not a full person: we exist in relation to others.”
The people you spend the most time with—aka, your BFFs—are some of the most influential people in your life. Celebrate their awesomeness with these 63 best friend quotes that sum up the value of friendship.
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
This quote from The Lord of the Rings series proves that living a fulfilling life doesn’t have to be difficult. Every day, simply choose to make decisions that make you happy. Don’t miss these hidden messages in Lord of the Rings that you never noticed before.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
“I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that this was the secret of the universe.”
Sometimes, a simple sentence in an incredible book can change your entire perspective for the better. To help you find more of those one-liners, we compiled the 20 most uplifting quotes that will stay with you.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.”
Asking questions and getting to know the people around you is a powerful way to show you care. If you’re not sure where to start, try using these 37 conversation starters that make you instantly interesting.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”
This important quote gets to the bottom of a basic human desire: to make a difference in the world and be remembered for it.
A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”
Taking note of when you’re happy is a simple way to be grateful for all the things that bring you joy. And for more ways to include happiness in your routine, try these 24 things happy people do every day.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
“We don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t even know the questions we need to ask in order to find out, but when we learn one tiny little thing, a dim light comes on in a dark hallway, and suddenly a new question appears. We spend decades, centuries, millennia, trying to answer that one question so that another dim light will come on. That’s science, but that’s also everything else, isn’t it?”
This quote from Yaa Gyasi’s 2020 novel, Transcendent Kingdom, shows why curiosity is so important to both science and humanity.
Sissy by Jacob Tobia
“Here’s the remarkable thing about self-love: When you start to love yourself for the first time, when you start to truly embrace who you are—flaws and all—your scars start to look a lot more like beauty marks. The words that used to haunt you transform into badges of pride.”
This selection from LGBTQ activist Jacob Tobia’s memoir reminds us that the things that make us different are also the things that make us beautiful. If you’re looking to inject more self-love into your life, try these 10 ways to be nicer to yourself.
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
“I’ve seen enough to know that you can be a human with a mountain of resources and you can be a human with nothing, and you can be a monster either way.”
Clemantine Wamariya, a Rwandan-American author, former refugee, and human rights activist, reminds us that the number of resources you have doesn’t determine how much good you can do in the world.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
“Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.”
You don’t need to be a scientist in order to introduce more discovery into your life. Instead, try reading our list of 50 amazing facts to stoke your curiosity.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
“Accept—then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.”
Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now builds off a simple thesis: that the present moment is the only time you ever have to change your life.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
This powerful quote from Angie Thomas’s 2017 young adult novel The Hate U Give stresses the importance of speaking up in the face of oppression. If you’d like to do more of that, here’s what it means to be an ally in the movement toward equality.
Intimations by Zadie Smith
“You start to think of contempt as a virus. Infecting individuals first, but spreading rapidly through families, communities, peoples, power structures, nations. Less flashy than hate. More deadly.”
According to Merriam-Webster, contempt is “the act of despising” or the “lack of respect or reverence for something.” This book quote rings incredibly true.
Rising Strong by Brené Brown
“There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise.”
Researcher Brené Brown’s TED Talk on vulnerability has gone viral in recent years—and her book, Rising Strong, includes just as many quotable moments as her talk.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
The Alchemist is a classic for a reason: it contains valuable takeaways and life lessons for readers of all ages and generations. For more incredible pieces of literature, check out these 18 classic books you can read in a day.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”
Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir is a book-club favorite that chronicles her travels through Italy, India, and Indonesia. These are more of the best memoirs written by women.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
The Fault in Our Stars captivated thousands of young readers when it was released in 2012, and again when it was made into a film in 2014. These are more of our favorite quotes from young adult books.
On My Own by Diane Rehm
“I don’t believe in closure. What does it really mean? Does it mean the closing of a door, the locking up of memories, the refusal to allow a flow of consciousness that may involve some measure of grief?”
In her memoir On My Own, public radio talk show host Diane Rehm discusses her husband’s death—and how challenging it is to rebuild her life after he’s gone.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Just because The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a young-adult novel doesn’t mean older adults can’t find comfort in its words. In fact, we consider this one-liner one of the best quotes about falling in love.
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle
“Beautiful people spend time discovering what their idea of beauty on this earth is. They know themselves well enough to know what they love, and they love themselves enough to fill up with a little of their particular kind of beauty each day.”
Glennon Doyle’s definition of beauty flips every previous definition on its head. Instead of focusing on the idea of superficial beauty, she focuses on the idea of inner beauty. Love literature? Check out these book puns—they’ll have you tickled ink.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
In her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou chronicles growing up in the South in the 1930s. It’s a story about overcoming discrimination, poverty, and countless other obstacles, and still finding hope and freedom in the end.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
You’ve probably read this famous, award-winning novel once (or several times!). If you want to learn more about it, don’t miss these 19 facts about Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
“It cannot be doubted that each of us can only see part of the picture. The doctor sees one, the patient another, the engineer a third, the economist a fourth, the pearl diver a fifth, the alcoholic a sixth, the cable guy a seventh, the sheep farmer an eighth, the Indian beggar a ninth, the pastor a tenth. Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still, it is never complete.”
In his memoir When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi tells the story of his life as a neurosurgeon—and his battle with lung cancer. The book—which was published posthumously—includes some incredible takeaways about both life and death.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
“Human beings need loyalty. It does not necessarily produce happiness, and can even be painful, but we all require devotion to something more than ourselves for our lives to be endurable. Without it, we have only our desires to guide us, and they are fleeting, capricious, and insatiable.”
Another book penned by an accomplished surgeon, Being Mortal details author Atul Gawande’s ideas about end-of-life and hospice care.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”
You’re never too old to revisit your favorite children’s books. Not the sure best ones to re-read? These are the 25 best children’s books ever written.
What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey
“When you make loving others the story of your life, there’s never a final chapter, because the legacy continues. You lend your light to one person, and he or she shines it on another and another and another.”
Each chapter in this book is a different essay by Oprah Winfrey about the things she knows to be true. Don’t forget to bookmark this list of the best summer reads and make a book stop before your next beach vacation.
Oh! The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
“Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.”
Sure, it’s technically a children’s book. But Oh! The Places You’ll Go has a ton of quotes that will ring true for readers of all ages.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
“It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even with getting from point A to point B. It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.”
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild tells the story of her 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Unsurprisingly, the book is full of striking insights about the natural world and what it means to be away from everything you know.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”
In 2015, All the Light We Cannot See, a novel set during World War II, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
“I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge?”
Look no further than Gone Girl if you’re dying to read an intense psychological thriller that addresses the complexities of marriage…and murder.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.”
Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow explores the science behind why we make the decisions we do and why we have the thought processes we have.
But What if We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman
“The ultimate failure of the United States will probably not derive from the problems we see or the conflicts we wage. It will more likely derive from our uncompromising belief in the things we consider unimpeachable and idealized and beautiful. Because every strength is a weakness if given enough time.”
In his book But What If We’re Wrong, Chuck Klosterman asks—and attempts to answer—several thought-provoking questions about the world that will make you think outside the box.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
“Autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward—are, most people will agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.”
We all strive to have careers that make us feel happy and fulfilled. For more ways to find your purpose at the office, read these 8 surprising secrets that’ll help you be happier at work.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
This book quote focuses on the silver lining of losing it all. Going through a rough patch yourself? Start your day with these 50 inspirational quotes for mornings.
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
“People are less quick to applaud you as you grow older. Life starts out with everyone clapping when you take a poo and goes downhill from there.”
We’ve all had those days where we just want a round of applause for making the bed or walking the dog.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.”
Sometimes, it’s easier to let go than to hold on to the things that are making you unhappy. For more on the wisdom of letting go, don’t miss these 18 important forgiveness quotes.
Naked by David Sedaris
“I haven’t the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.”
If David Sedaris wrote it, then you know it’s going to be funny. For more silliness, these are the 49 funniest one-liners on the internet.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”
Bryan Stevenson’s intimate memoir is all about his career as a young lawyer, including his defense of a man on death row. It’s been hailed as one of the 15 essential books about race relations in the United States.
The Road to Character by David Brooks
“Recovering from suffering is not like recovering from a disease. Many people don’t come out healed; they come out different.”
In his book, The Road to Character, New York Times columnist David Brooks discusses how all of our experiences—including our painful ones—ultimately build our character.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
“I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me won the 2015 National Book Award for non-fiction—and for good reason. The book is packed cover to cover with inspiring and insightful words.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
“Anger and embarrassment are often neighbors.”
Amy Poehler has a knack for making funny quips that are also universal truths. For more required reading for comedy fans, these are the 37 funniest books ever written.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
“They say you really appreciate a garden only once you reach a certain age … There seems to be something miraculous about seeing the relentless optimism of new growth after the bleakness of winter, a kind of joy in the difference every year.”
The best book quotes are the ones that can take a small topic—something like a garden—and give it greater significance. And for more incredible writing, don’t miss the 20 books you really should have read by now.