A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

50 of the Best Book Quotes from Our Favorite Books

Updated: Jun. 12, 2024

Reading does more than inform—it inspires. These insightful book quotes from beloved authors can give you a boost when you need it most.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Learn more.

Close Up Of Speech Bubble On BookEskay Lim/Getty Images

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 inspirational quotes from their authors. In that way, certain books become friends we can consult throughout our lives for guidance and advice. Just think about the number of books you have on your bookshelf, or the number of book quotes you have in your journal, quotes you’re saving to reread at a later date.

Ahead, we’ve found the best book quotes. No matter which genres are your favorite—whether you consider yourself a history buff, a science-fiction nerd or a memoir fan—there are tons of books for readers of all ages that offer profound life-changing quotes, uplifting quotes, happy quotes and even funny quotes within their pages.

Join the free Reader’s Digest Book Club for great reads, monthly discussions, author Q&As and a community of book lovers.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Jazz by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s 1992 Jazz tells the story of Joe and Violet as they flee rural Virginia for Harlem in the 1920s. It leaves all the stereotypes of the Jazz Age behind and explores the reality of Black urban living during the Roaring ’20s. There’s murder, passion and romance gone wrong. Through each character’s backstory in this historical fiction book, the reader is also taken on a tour of the mid-1800s American South.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper

This is one of the best forgiveness quotes that will help you let go. A New York Times bestseller from 2021, The Beauty in Breaking is a stunning first memoir by Michele Harper, an African American emergency room physician navigating her way through a divorce and a high-stress career. Each chapter features a different scene from the ER or Harper’s personal life, with moving takeaways about how these encounters have influenced her.

Get Reader’s Digest‘s Read Up newsletter for more books, inspiration, humor, cleaning, travel, tech and fun facts all week long.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This heart-wrenching 2018 novel tells the story of Celestial and Roy, a middle-class African-American couple whose lives are turned upside down after Roy is convicted of a rape he did not commit. The pair stays in touch through the twists and turns of Roy’s 12-year prison sentence—but can their marriage make it? Pick up a copy of this Oprah’s Book Club pick to find out, and reflect on the book’s family quotes that hit close to home, and might even make you reflect on your own closest familial ties.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Set in the early to mid-1900s and published in 1992, The Color Purple focuses on Celie, a poor Black woman in the Deep South whose letters to God and her sister tell the story of 20 years of her life. Those years range from her childhood with an abusive father to her marriage to an abusive man. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Color Purple is one of the classic books everyone should read at least once.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel "To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation." RD.com, Getty Images

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi is a modern classic novel about Pi Patel, an Indian boy who survives 227 days in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck. While stranded, Pi must overcome his frightening situation by embarking on a spiritual journey alongside his physical one. With many inspiring book quotes, this 2001 Man Booker Prize winner offers bits of wisdom throughout. Its 2012 film version is also one of the greatest book-to-movie adaptations.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama quote: "Enthusiasm makes up for a host of deficiencies." RD.com, Getty Images

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

The first volume of Barack Obama’s presidential memoirs, A Promised Land made a splash when it was published in 2020, and it contains plenty of inspiring presidential quotes that will make you proud to be an American. The New York Times Book Review even called it one of the top 10 books of the year. In it, the former president takes a walk down memory lane, from his experience as a political hopeful to his time in the Oval Office. Obama reflects on his presidency—and all the challenges, shortfalls and behind-the-scenes moments that came with it—to create a stunning memoir that political aficionados and regular folks alike will adore.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

This coming-of-age love story, set in 1988 on the Italian Riviera, focuses on the passionate affair between Elio, a precocious teen staying at his parents’ cliffside villa, and Oliver, a summer visitor who’s assisting Elio’s father. The pair’s romance may only last six weeks, but their memories of it will last a lifetime. The 2007 novel is one of the best LGBTQ books to read right now.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The sequel to Margaret Atwood’s wildly popular The Handmaid’s Tale was one of the most anticipated new books when it came out in 2019. Picking up where its predecessor left off, The Testaments finds the Republic of Gilead, the totalitarian patriarchal theocracy where the series is set, in chaos. Who will fall and who will rise? Read this dystopian novel (and Booker Prize winner) to find out, and enjoy memorable book quotes like this one.

50 Book Quotes 9 V2 RD.com, Getty Images

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is a book quote you might know best from the movie, even though the novel is one of the best fantasy books readers can’t put down. The first of three volumes of The Lord of the Rings, 1954’s The Fellowship of the Ring sets the scene for the entire series (although the prequel The Hobbit technically comes first). In Fellowship, a young hobbit is enlisted to make a treacherous journey across Middle-earth to destroy the One Ring That Rules Them All.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This could be one of the most powerful book quotes about life. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the 2013 novel The Goldfinch tells the story of Theo Decker, a young teen who survives a bombing that kills his mother at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. In the aftermath, Theo takes a painting called The Goldfinch from the museum. Although the painting reminds Theo of his beloved mother—and consoles him through his grief—it ultimately draws him into a criminal underworld that consumes his life.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This powerful love story and the 2013 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction is one of the best books for women written by female authors. Americanah tells the tale of teenage couple Ifemelu and Obinze as they depart military-ruled Nigeria but aren’t able to travel together. Ifemelu heads to America, while Obinze, who isn’t allowed to enter the States, goes to London. Years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria. But will their love prevail? Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tackles issues such as race and identity as she tells their story.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This post-apocalyptic 2014 book and National Book Award finalist hits close to home—in a way, it became one of the books that predicted the future. In Station Eleven, 99% of the human population is killed by the flu in just two weeks. The novel jumps back and forth in time from the post-pandemic world to the pre-pandemic world. It’s about finding a way to live in the now and the beauty of human relationships in the wake of devastation.

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.'" RD.com, Getty Images

A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

From the author of Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle, A Man Without a Country is a 2005 essay collection by famed writer Kurt Vonnegut, who died in 2007. Full of profound book quotes, it covers topics ranging from Vonnegut’s issues with modern technology to his relationship with the arts and politics. Not to mention, it’s one of the best short books you can read in a 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?" RD.com, Getty Images

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

The follow-up to Yaa Gyasi’s bestseller, Homegoing, 2020’s Transcendent Kingdom tells the story of a Ghanian family living in Alabama. The protagonist is Gifty, a neuroscience student at the Stanford School of Medicine studying addiction after her brother dies of a heroin overdose. Gifty grapples with her faith and science, and the depression, addiction, grief and loss that have plagued her family, in one of the books by Black authors you’ll want to know about.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Sissy by Jacob Tobia

LGBTQ activist Jacob Tobia’s humorous, heart-wrenching 2019 memoir is a true coming-of-gender story, and it contains many inspiring self-love quotes like this one. As a kid in North Carolina, Tobia was called “sissy” for the way they expressed their femininity. Throughout the memoir, which follows Tobia from grade school to Duke University and beyond, Tobia learns to embrace that term. There’s silliness and wit infused into every sentence, but that doesn’t distract from the book’s core message: Gender can be expressed in many different ways, and the things that make us unique are also the things that make us beautiful.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya

Clemantine Wamariya’s 2018 bestselling memoir begins with her picturesque childhood in Rwanda. However, everything changed when she was 6 years old and the Rwandan Civil War reached a fever pitch. In 1994, she and her sister fled Rwanda and spent six years traveling through seven African countries and refugee camps before being granted asylum in the United States. Her book recounts those horrifying years and the process of building a life after war.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Geobiologist Hope Jahren is an expert on trees, flowers, seeds and soil. And with her 2016 debut memoir, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography and contains some beautiful nature quotes, she proves she’s also an expert in storytelling. Lab Girl takes the reader back to Jahren’s childhood and discusses how she grew to find a “sanctuary in science.” She talks about the discoveries she’s made in the lab, as well as the friendships and memories she’s created while doing her work. Consider it a love letter to loving what you do.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

One of the best self-help books ever written, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now builds off a simple thesis: The present moment is the only time you ever have to change your life. The 1997 book appeals to the philosopher in each of us and shows readers how to lead a pain- and anxiety-free existence by living fully in the present. You’re going to want to have a highlighter handy when you read it.

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?" RD.com, Getty Images

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This moving 2017 young adult novel, one of the highest rated books on Goodreads, tells the story of 16-year-old Starr, who witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend by a police officer. Starr must cope with her grief, as well as the reactions of her inner-city neighbors and private-school friends. Inspired by true events, the novel was made into a 2018 film of the same name.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Intimations by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith wrote this short collection of essays, which was published in 2020, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. She discusses the topics that were on all our minds: How do we compare relative sufferings? What does it mean to enter a new reality? What is the relationship between time and work? It’s a timely collection that will surely be read and analyzed for decades to come.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

Researcher Brené Brown’s TED Talk on vulnerability went viral—and her 2015 book, Rising Strong, includes just as many quotable moments and positive affirmations as her talk. In the book, Brown concludes that the only way to live a full life is by being vulnerable. And when you’re vulnerable, there are times you will be rejected. Rising Strong chronicles different couples, teachers, parents and leaders as they discuss the times they were brave, fell and got back up. It’s an inspiring read for any time you need extra courage.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho "It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting." RD.com, Getty Images

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

In this 1988 bestselling allegorical novel, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of treasure buried in the Pyramids. His journey includes mysterious characters, strange omens and tons of adventure. At its heart, The Alchemist is a story about self-discovery and following your dreams. This modern classic is a must for any bookshelf.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

After feeling unfulfilled by domestic life, author Elizabeth Gilbert heads off on the adventure of a lifetime: world travel. She seeks out pleasure in Italy, devotion in India and transcendence in Bali. The 2006 bestselling memoir, which contains tons of travel quotes to feed your wanderlust, has inspired countless women to embark on their own Eat, Pray, Love–style journeys. Those are chronicled in a second book, called Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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. Filled with some of the best quotes from young adult books, the novel tells the story of two teenage lovers, Hazel and Augustus, as they navigate their cancer treatments. Can love conquer all—even an incurable disease?

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?" RD.com, Getty Images

On My Own by Diane Rehm

In her 2016 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. She focuses on her own emotional and practical struggles, while also including the experiences of other recently widowed friends. The book shows that there is no one right way to grieve the loss of a spouse—the only thing you can expect is a massive upheaval in how you approach your own life. It also contains many loss quotes that heal the heart and lessen the grief.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky "We accept the love we think we deserve." RD.com, Getty Images

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

One of the best books for teens, this much-loved 1999 coming-of-age tale follows 15-year-old protagonist Charlie as he navigates his freshman year of high school. Shy and somewhat awkward, Charlie befriends two seniors, Patrick and Sam, who invite him into their friend group and show him the traditional high school experience. Together, the pals cope with different traumas such as sexual assault, domestic abuse and coming to terms with their sexuality. Just because it’s a young adult novel doesn’t mean older adults can’t find comfort in its words as well.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle

This is one of those beauty quotes that celebrates the truly beautiful. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon Doyle finally had everything she could want: happy kids, a happy husband and a blossoming writing career. But after discovering her husband has been cheating on her, Doyle’s life is turned upside down. This 2016 memoir, a New York Times bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club selection, chronicles her and her husband’s decision to repair their relationship, as well as Doyle’s inner search for what makes her happy and fulfilled.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." RD.com, Getty Images

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

In her 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou discusses 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. Don’t want to put it down? There are six more volumes in Angelou’s autobiographical series for you to read next, with plenty more Maya Angelou quotes to uplift and inspire you.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and widely read in classrooms around the country—although unfortunately, also frequently the victim of book banningTo Kill a Mockingbird is narrated by 6-year-old Scout during the Great Depression in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama. The 1960 classic tells the story of Scout, her brother, Jem, and their father, lawyer Atticus Finch. Atticus is chosen to defend Tom Robinson, a Black man accused of raping a White woman. As the town erupts into chaos as the trial begins, the novel explores the South’s deeply rooted racism.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

In his 2016 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 life and death, with life-changing quotes you won’t forget. What makes life worth living in the face of death? And how does one live a full life after a terrifying diagnosis? Kalanithi does his best to answer those impossible questions.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Another book penned by an accomplished surgeon, 2014’s Being Mortal details author Atul Gawande’s ideas about end-of-life and hospice care. In it, he outlines stories from his own patients and family, combined with eye-opening research about the good and bad ways the medical field deals with death. Are certain treatments worth it? Should doctors have more training in end-of-life care? What matters in those final days and moments? It’s one of the best book club books guaranteed to get everyone talking.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This 1943 novella, one of the best children’s books ever written, tells the story of a young prince who visits various planets in the solar system before landing on earth and sharing his observations about adults and human nature. The Little Prince, written by a French pilot who died during World War II, certainly has fantastical elements, but it’s a philosophical tale at heart—even though it sits in the children’s section of the bookstore.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey

In June 2000, Oprah Winfrey published the first issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. In it, and in every issue thereafter, she wrote a column called “What I Know for Sure,” which chronicled the different things she knew to be true. From the value of a warm “thank you” to the importance of reading, Winfrey covered everything—and this 2014 book is a compilation of those columns. It’s a book you’ll want to revisit often for its sage wisdom and advice from one of the most inspiring women alive today.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Sure, it’s technically a children’s book that you can read in three minutes. But 1990’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! has a ton of children’s book quotes that will ring true for readers of all ages, and it’s now a popular graduation gift. The poem talks about overcoming hardships and achieving great things. Come for the rhyming book quotes, stay for the philosophical takeaways.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling 2012 memoir tells the story of her 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail after losing her mother and her marriage. With no experience or training, she hits the unforgiving trail alone and encounters everything from bears and rattlesnakes to unsavory hikers and hoards of frogs. Unsurprisingly, the book is full of striking insights about the natural world and what it means to be away from everything you know. It’s also one of the best mother-daughter books to read together.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr "Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever." RD.com, Getty Images

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

In 2015, All the Light We Cannot See, a novel set during World War II, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It follows the parallel lives of a blind French girl named Marie and a German orphan boy named Werner. Marie and her father flee Paris during the war while carrying a sought-after diamond. What will happen when these characters’ worlds collide? You’ll have to read this beautiful story to find out.

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?" RD.com, Getty Images

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

A mysterious disappearance. A possible murder. A disorienting plot twist. Look no further than Gone Girl if you’re dying to read one of the best thriller books that will keep you on the edge of your seat. With deeper themes to its psychological mystery, the 2012 bestseller addresses the complexities of marriage and the resentment that can grow between two people who, to outsiders, seem as if they have it all together.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman "Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it." RD.com, Getty Images

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Ever wonder why humans are more likely to assume a good-looking person will be more competent? Or why we’re more likely to believe a fact if it’s written in a bold typeface? Nobel Prize in Economics winner Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 book 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." RD.com, Getty Images

But What If We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman

This quote is an interesting counterpoint to the traditional patriotic quotes we’ve heard before. And the title of this 2016 book perfectly encapsulates what it’s about: Author Cluck Klosterman muses on simple yet enormous questions. How certain are we about our understanding of gravity? How seriously should we view the content of our dreams? What will be the defining memory of rock music, 500 years from today? Is it possible that we “overrate” democracy? It’s a fascinating book that will inspire you to look at everything in a new light.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Have you ever wondered what makes successful people—like, really successful people—different? In this 2008 nonfiction bestseller containing tons of success quotes like this one, Malcolm Gladwell investigates the factors that separate the best and the brightest humans from the rest of us. Do they have specific character traits in common? Or do they share more specific details about their cultures, families and childhood experiences? Plus, how can the rest of us be more like them? You’ll have to pick up a copy to learn his conclusion.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk "It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything." RD.com, Getty Images

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

You’ve seen the movie—although, of course, the first rule is not to talk about it—but have you read the book? Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel Fight Club is a masterpiece of a tale that follows an anonymous narrator struggling with insomnia. When he meets a mysterious character named Tyler Durden and creates an underground fight club, his life changes forever.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

This is one of those truth quotes that is humorously, brutally honest, and the rest of Sloane Crosley’s 2008 book of essays will likewise make you laugh out loud. In it, Crosley shares musings from her life as a 20-something in New York City. There are silly, self-deprecating anecdotes about her volunteer job at the Museum of Natural History, the weddings of distant friends and baking a cookie in the shape of her boss’s face. Yep, we told you you’d LOL.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Young lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isabel live a quiet life as the only inhabitants of Janus Rock, Australia. The couple is struggling to conceive when a boat with a dead man and a live baby washes ashore. Years later, the baby’s true story unfolds—but you won’t find any spoilers here. Expect to be asking yourself, “What would I have done?” a lot while reading this 2012 book.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Naked by David Sedaris

If humorist David Sedaris wrote it, then you know it’s going to be one of the funniest books of all time. This 1997 collection of personal essays includes glimpses into Sedaris’s childhood and adult life. Expect humorous pieces about his sister’s first period, his trip to a nudist colony, his mother’s diagnosis with cancer and more. It’s the story of a chaotic, dysfunctional family and making the most of what you have.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson "Each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done." RD.com, Getty Images

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

A 2014 memoir by lawyer Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Rights Initiative, this winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction examines the inequality and racial bias at the core of the American criminal justice system. In particular, it tells the story of Walter McMillian, a man who was sentenced to die for a murder he said he didn’t commit. The case changed Stevenson’s views on justice and inspired him to embark on a decades-long career representing death-row prisoners.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

The Road to Character by David Brooks

In this 2015 book, New York Times columnist David Brooks discusses how all our experiences—including our painful ones—ultimately build our character. Based on an undergraduate course he taught at Yale University on the topic of humility, the book differentiates between “resume virtues,” the ones you acquire throughout your career, and “eulogy virtues,” the ones that exist at the core of your being. The Road to Character is the perfect read for anyone looking to improve their deeper character, and to discover “moving on” quotes that can help you heal and persevere.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me won the 2015 National Book Award for nonfiction and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist—for good reason. The epistolary book, written as a letter to Coates’s adolescent son, is packed with inspiring and insightful words, touching on our nation’s history and current racial crisis, as well as Coates’s concerns for his son’s safety. Toni Morrison gave it the highest praise, saying: “I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly, it is Ta-Nehisi Coates.” It’s one of the books about racism everyone should read.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler "Anger and embarrassment are often neighbors." RD.com, Getty Images

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Actress and comedian Amy Poehler is best known for her work on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation. Her first book, 2014’s Yes Please, is full of essays, stories, lists, strong women quotes and mantras that are both silly and inspiring. Standout chapters include “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All.” You’ll soon agree that Poehler has a knack for writing funny quips that are also universal truths. The audio version, narrated by Poehler herself and others, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald "I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties, there isn't any privacy." RD.com, Getty Images

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Romance, wealth and extravagant parties converge in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 Jazz Age novel The Great Gatsby. The book, set in the affluent Long Island village of West Egg and narrated by Nick Carraway, a young bond salesman, tells the story of Nick’s neighbor, the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, and his former lover, Nick’s cousin Daisy Buchanan. The book originally sold fewer than 25,000 copies; after Fitzgerald’s death, it became an international bestseller with multiple film adaptations. Today, it’s often considered the Great American Novel and one of the best books of all time.

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." RD.com, Getty Images

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

One of the best romance novels of all time, this bestseller feels straight out of a Hallmark movie marathon—in the best way possible. Published in 2012, Me Before You tells the story of Will Traynor, a successful banker who becomes depressed after being paralyzed in a motorcycle accident, and Lou, a bubbly woman hired as his caretaker. The two fall in love, and the rest, as they say, is history.