The 22 best book quotes — and the books they come from

When you buy through our links, Business Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

  • Some of the best quotes about life and love come from literature.
  • We've gathered some of the best book quotes as well as the books they're from.
  • Want more books? Check out our list of the best classic books .

Insider Today

Great literature has gifted us some of the most meaningful and timeless quotes about life, love, and everything in between. Writers can put words to the feelings and experiences we can't quite capture ourselves and leave us with quotes that resonate long after we've turned the page. Readers have found moving quotes in everything from gothic classics to contemporary young adult reads . 

Sometimes, we're inspired by a quote that we didn't even know came from a book. I've heard "Not all those who wander are lost" countless times but never knew it was from a beloved fantasy series. To create this list, I looked at some of the most memorable and moving quotes from literature throughout time. For readers looking for a new inspirational read or wondering where some of the greatest lines originated from, here are some of the best literary quotes and the books they came from.

The 22 best book quotes of all time:

"love is or it ain't. thin love ain't love at all.".

best fiction book quotes

"Beloved" by Toni Morrison, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.29

" Beloved " is a Pultizer Prize-winning historical fiction about Sethe, an escaped slave still running from her past 18 years later. Haunted both metaphorically by her memories and literally by the ghost of her baby, Sethe's past and present collide when a mysterious teenage girl arrives with the same name engraved upon her child's tombstone.

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."

best fiction book quotes

"Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $5.47

This adored classic is about four sisters — Jo, Beth, Meg, and Amy — who are struggling to survive in New England during the Civil War. First published in 1869, this novel has delighted readers for generations as they follow the sisters on each of their unique journeys to womanhood. 

"Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt."

best fiction book quotes

"Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.99

First published in 1969, " Slaughterhouse-Five " is an anti-war novel about Billy Pilgrim, who becomes a chaplain's assistant in the US. Army during World War II. While the story begins with Billy's childhood and continues years after the war, Billy occasionally travels through time to reflect upon his life, humanity, and the devastating effects of war.

"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."

best fiction book quotes

"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.89

" The Alchemist " is a powerful and inspirational story full of wisdom about a boy named Santiago who travels to Egypt from Spain in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. On his adventure, Santiago encounters numerous obstacles, meets interesting new people, and discovers so much more than the treasure he once sought.

"There is always something left to love."

best fiction book quotes

"One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez, available at Amazon and Bookshop , $14.49

This beautiful multi-generational story of the Buendía family begins with José Arcadio Buendía, the founding patriarch of the town of Macondo. Following seven generations of the family through feuds, friendships, and technological advancements, this novel uses magical realism to explore extraordinary moments through time.

"What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?"

best fiction book quotes

"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.98

" The Hate U Give " is a moving and timely young adult read about Starr Carter, a 16-year-old who witnesses her best friend, Khalil, get shot and killed by the police. When his death makes national headlines, everyone wants to hear what really happened, but Starr is fully aware of what telling the truth could mean as well as the consequences of staying silent.

"They say nothing lasts forever but they're just scared it will last longer than they can love it."

best fiction book quotes

"On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous " by Ocean Vuong, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.67

This stunning and poetic novel is a letter from a son to his mother, who cannot read. Little Dog is in his 20s, exploring and speaking frankly about sexuality, masculinity, grief, and race as he unravels his family's history rooted in Vietnam, leading to an unforgettable conclusion in this powerful novel about humanity and language. 

"Anything worth dying for is certainly worth living for."

best fiction book quotes

"Catch-22" by Joseph Heller, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.22

Loved as a funny and realistic view on war, " Catch-22 " is about Yossarian, a bombardier during World War II who is mad that thousands of enemies are trying to kill him while his army continues to increase the number of dangerous missions he's required to fly. Yossarian finds himself in a Catch-22, a bureaucratic rule that says men who continue to fly dangerous missions should be considered insane, yet if they make a request to be removed, they are proven sane and ineligible for relief.

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am."

best fiction book quotes

"The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15

" The Bell Jar " is a semi-autobiographical novel and a haunting classic from Sylvia Plath. The book follows Esther Greenwood, a young woman in Boston who is consumed by depression and anxiety as her mental state worsens over time.

"Time moves slowly, but passes quickly."

best fiction book quotes

"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.99

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, " The Color Purple " is a magnificent and important novel about the abuse silently suffered by Black women in the 20th century. Celie and Nettie are sisters who were separated as children but continue to communicate and share messages of hope through letters that sustain them through seemingly insurmountable pain in this story of strength and redemption.

"Now that I knew fear, I also knew it was not permanent. As powerful as it was, its grip on me would loosen. It would pass."

best fiction book quotes

"The Round House" by Louise Erdrich, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.25

This 2012 National Book Award winner follows a young boy on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota whose community and family is changed forever in the wake of a terrible crime. Richly layered, this profound mystery is about so much more than finding a criminal and seeking justice.

"When I discover who I am, I'll be free."

best fiction book quotes

"Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.99

" Invisible Man " is a 1952 classic that shaped American literature as an unnamed man from the South who gets a scholarship to an all-Black school in Harlem but must participate in a horrifying and humiliating "battle royal" in order to claim his spot. Powerful and raw, this novel explores identity and belonging as the narrator continues to search for his individuality in a society that doesn't want him to be himself. 

"Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful."

best fiction book quotes

"Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $5.52

First published in 1818, " Frankenstein " is a horror classic about a scientist named Victor Frankenstein who brings a monster to life and flees his laboratory in disgust, to return the next day and find that the creature is missing. In this novel that explores the dark power of alienation, Frankenstein's monster tells the devastating story to his creator of his first challenging days in the world.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

best fiction book quotes

"The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.99

In this classic French children's book , a young prince meets a pilot whose plane has crashed in the desert, who begins to tell him his story of traveling across various planets and all he had seen and learned along the way. One of the most translated books in the world, " The Little Prince " is for readers of all ages who wish to reminisce upon the nostalgic innocence of childhood.

"Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!"

best fiction book quotes

"Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.99

" Don Quixote " is a historical novel from the 1600s and one of the top-selling books of all time . Quixano is a young nobleman who decides to become a knight-errant after reading countless romances and falling in love with the idea of chivalry. Under the name "Don Quixote de la Mancha," Quixano brings the witty Sancho Panza along as his squire on his quest for knighthood.

"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."

best fiction book quotes

"Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.36

" Wuthering Heights " is a classic, gothic novel from 1847 about two families — the Lintons and the Earnshaws — and their relationships with the Earnshaws' adopted son, Heathcliff. Full of complex characters, this classic follows Heathcliff's young friendship with his benefactor's daughter, Cathy, as it grows and morphs into a passionate and twisted romance.

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

best fiction book quotes

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.35

" I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings " is Maya Angelou's first book in her multi-volume autobiography series. This installment offers a glimpse at Maya Angelou's early years as she struggles against racism when she and her brother are sent to live with their grandmother in a small Southern town. When she returns to live with her mother, a horrible attack changes Maya Angelou's life forever in this memoir about identity, race, and hope in the face of impossible circumstances. 

"Nolite te bastardes carborundorum."

best fiction book quotes

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.99

Offred can remember enjoying life with her husband and daughter not long ago. Now, trapped in a dystopian present where women are only valued if they have viable ovaries, Offred is the Commander's handmaid, forced to lie down for him once a month and pray she gets pregnant in this devastatingly memorable read .

"As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."

best fiction book quotes

"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $6.10

Hazel's terminal cancer diagnosis has been extended by a few years when she meets a gorgeous boy named Augustus in her support group. Immediately drawn to one another, they agree to read each other's favorite books, launching a whirlwind teenage romance that's full of love and heartbreak.

"That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet."

best fiction book quotes

"The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.98

" The Namesake " is Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel and explores the immigrant experience through the Ganguli family, whose story begins as Ashoke and Ashima uproot their traditional life in Calcutta and move to America shortly after their arranged marriage so Ashoke can attend school at MIT. When Ashima names their child Gogol, the meaning of his name continues to follow him through his life as he navigates the expectations of a first-generation immigrant.  

"We accept the love we think we deserve."

best fiction book quotes

"Perks of Being A Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.19

In this unique coming-of-age novel set in the 1990s, Charlie is a freshman in high school who is torn between passivity and a budding passion for life while also being stuck between childhood and adulthood. This book is a compilation of his letters to an unknown recipient, discussing the challenges he faces with his family, in school, and in his personal life.

"Not all those who wander are lost."

best fiction book quotes

"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J.R.R. Tolkein, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.27

" The Fellowship of the Ring " is the first novel in the classic fantasy "Lord of the Rings" series. In this book , the hobbit Bilbo Baggins entrusts young Frodo Baggins with an incredible and dangerous task: To take the powerful Ring to the Cracks of Doom and destroy it once and for all. Frodo sets off on an epic adventure across Middle-Earth in this beloved and revered novel.

best fiction book quotes

  • Main content

The 45 most powerful literary quotes of all time

The best memorable, inspiring and impactful passages of prose.

The 45 most powerful literary quotes of all time

The most powerful literary quotes from famous books, poems and plays have the ability to stop you in your tracks. Whether you're hunting for the perfect sentiment to use in a speech or hoping to discover a bit of inspiration to get you through a difficult time, we highly recommend leafing through some of the greatest creative works of art.

Tense, thrilling page-turners are exciting to read. But hiding in the pages of some of the best novels of all time there are sentences that are so impactful, so powerful, that you stop reading and simply live in the beautiful prose for a moment.

In this guide we honour 45 of the most powerful sentences ever written. The most powerful, beautiful and heart-wrenching literary quotes that we hope you'll want to use and refer to or just contemplatively stare at again and again. We've included words spun from the minds of some of the best authors of all time, including Toni Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Stephen King.

If you love a literary quote that isn't on this list that hits you right in the feels every time you see it, then head to the comments – and upvote your faves!

  • Heading on holiday soon? Make sure you pack one of the best summer reads .
  • These are the best Dystopian Novels , just in case the real world isn't dystopian enough for you right now.

Most powerful literary quotes

Most powerful literary quotes

1 . The Picture Of Dorian Gray

Author: Oscar Wilde

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Most powerful literary quotes

2 . The Road

Author: Cormac McCarthy

“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.”

Most powerful literary quotes

3 . In A Free State

Author : V.S. Naipaul

Year : 1971

"The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves."

Most powerful literary quotes

4 . Anna Karenina

Author : Leo Tolstoy

Year : 1877

"It's much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it."

Most powerful literary quotes

5 . Breakfast At Tiffany's

Author: Truman Capote

“Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.”

Most powerful literary quotes

6 . The Time Machine

Author: H.G. Wells

“It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.”

Most powerful literary quotes

7 . Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption

Author : Stephen King

Year : 1982

“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that's all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.”

Most powerful literary quotes

8 . Great Expectations

Author: Charles Dickens

“We need never be ashamed of our tears.”

Most powerful literary quotes

9 . Revolutionary Road

Author : Richard Yates

Year : 1961

"No one forgets the truth; they just get better at lying."

Most powerful literary quotes

10 . The Scarlet Letter

Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

Most powerful literary quotes

Author : Philip K. Dick

Year : 1981

"It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane."

Most powerful literary quotes

12 . Jane Eyre

Author : Charlotte Brontë

Year : 1847

"Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs."

Most powerful literary quotes

13 . Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

Most powerful literary quotes

14 . The Witches

Author : Roald Dahl

Year : 1983

"It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you."

Most powerful literary quotes

15 . Kafka On The Shore

Author : Haruki Murakami

Year : 2002

"Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart."

Most powerful literary quotes

16 . The Children Of Men

Author: P.D. James

“We can experience nothing but the present moment, live in no other second of time, and to understand this is as close as we can get to eternal life.”

Most powerful literary quotes

17 . Invisible Man

Author: Ralph Ellison

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”

Most powerful literary quotes

18 . On The Road

Author: Jack Kerouac

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Most powerful literary quotes

19 . The Handmaid's Tale

Author : Margaret Atwood

Year : 1985

"We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories."

Most powerful literary quotes

20 . Moby Dick

Author: Herman Melville

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”

Most powerful literary quotes

Author : George Orwell

Year : 1949

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

Most powerful literary quotes

22 . Ulysses

Author : James Joyce

Year : 1922

"History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake."

Most powerful literary quotes

23 . Of Mice And Men

Author : John Steinbeck

Year : 1937

"Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other."

Most powerful literary quotes

24 . Middlemarch

Author: George Eliot

“We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, “Oh, nothing!” Pride helps; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our hurts— not to hurt others.”

Most powerful literary quotes

25 . Beloved

Author: Toni Morrison

“You are your best thing”

Most powerful literary quotes

26 . Don Quixote

Author: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”

Most powerful literary quotes

27 . London Fields

Author : Martin Amis

Year : 1989

"And meanwhile time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look and feel like shit."

Most powerful literary quotes

28 . A Room With A View

Author: E.M. Forster

“We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won’t do harm - yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.”

Most powerful literary quotes

29 . Snow Falling On Cedars

Author: David Guterson

“None of those other things makes a difference. Love is the strongest thing in the world, you know. Nothing can touch it. Nothing comes close. If we love each other we’re safe from it all. Love is the biggest thing there is.”

Most powerful literary quotes

30 . Their Eyes Were Watching God

Author : Zora Neale Hurston

"She had waited all her life for something, and it had killed her when it found her."

Most powerful literary quotes

31 . The Sound And The Fury

Author: William Faulkner

“Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.”

Most powerful literary quotes

32 . The Mysterious Island

Author : Jules Verne

Year : 1874

"It is a great misfortune to be alone, my friends; and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason."

Most powerful literary quotes

33 . The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon

“Sometimes we get sad about things and we don’t like to tell other people that we are sad about them. We like to keep it a secret. Or sometimes, we are sad but we really don’t know why we are sad, so we say we aren’t sad but we really are.”

Most powerful literary quotes

34 . Wuthering Heights

Author : Emily Brontë

"Terror made me cruel"

Most powerful literary quotes

35 . Stardust

Author: Neil Gaiman

“She says nothing at all, but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches, with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars.”

Most powerful literary quotes

36 . Birdsong

Author : Sebastian Faulks

Year : 1993

"I know. I was there. I saw the great void in your soul, and you saw mine."

Most powerful literary quotes

37 . American Psycho

Author : Bret Easton Ellis

Year : 1991

"There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there."

Most powerful literary quotes

38 . L.A. Confidential

Author: James Ellroy

“Some men get the world, some men get ex-hookers and a trip to Arizona. You’re in with the former, but my God I don’t envy the blood on your conscience.”

Most powerful literary quotes

39 . The Price Of Salt

Author: Patricia Highsmith

“Perhaps it was freedom itself that choked her.”

Most powerful literary quotes

40 . Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

Most powerful literary quotes

41 . The Wizard of Oz

Author: L. Frank Baum

“You had the power all along my dear.”

Most powerful literary quotes

42 . Half of a Yellow Sun

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?’ Aunty Ifeka said. ‘Your life belongs to you and you alone.”

Most powerful literary quotes

43 . Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea

Author: Ursula K. Le Guin

“Before the moon I am, what a woman is, a woman of power, a woman’s power, deeper than the roots of trees, deeper than the roots of islands, older than the Making, older than the moon.”

Most powerful literary quotes

44 . Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Author: Gloria E. Anzaldúa

“I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent’s tongue—my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence.”

Most powerful literary quotes

45 . The Good Soldier

Author : Ford Madox Ford

Year : 1915

"Why can't people have what they want? The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has the wrong thing."


Best free books for Kindle: classics to read for free

Best free books for Kindle: classics to read for free

15 Things You Probably Don't Know About Catcher In The Rye

15 Things You Probably Don't Know About Catcher In The Rye

Banned books list: books so controversial they were banned

Banned books list: books so controversial they were banned

Related reviews and shortlists.

The best short books under 100 pages and quick to read

The best short books under 100 pages and quick to read

The best subscription boxes for the ultimate recurring gifts

The best subscription boxes for the ultimate recurring gifts

The best comedy audiobooks: fantastic funny stories to listen to

The best comedy audiobooks: fantastic funny stories to listen to

The best audiobooks in 2023: great reads to listen to today

The best audiobooks in 2023: great reads to listen to today

Classic books to read before you die: bucket list novels

Classic books to read before you die: bucket list novels

34 of literature's greatest opening paragraphs

34 of literature's greatest opening paragraphs

Mental Branch

a space for bookworms

Unlocking wisdom: 100 famous book quotes that resonate through time.

Unlocking Wisdom: 100 Famous Book Quotes That Resonate Through Time


Words have the power to transcend time, and the quotes within books often serve as beacons of enlightenment. This compilation brings together 100 such quotes that have resonated with readers worldwide, offering timeless insights into the human experience.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." - Jane Austen, "Pride and Prejudice"

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, quoted in numerous works

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Nelson Mandela, "Long Walk to Freedom"

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do." - Steve Jobs, "Steve Jobs"

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." - Leo Tolstoy, "Anna Karenina"

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt, quoted in various works

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." - Robert Frost, quoted in various works

"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, quoted in various works

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu, "Tao Te Ching"

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas A. Edison, quoted in various works

"The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library." - Albert Einstein, quoted in various works

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination." - Albert Einstein, quoted in various works

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." - Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." - Albert Einstein, quoted in various works

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." - J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." - E.E. Cummings, quoted in various works

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do." - Steve Jobs, quoted in various works

"The greatest happiness you can have is knowing that you do not necessarily require happiness." - William Saroyan, "The Human Comedy"

"The more I see, the less I know for sure." - John Lennon, quoted in various works

"The purpose of our lives is to be happy." - Dalai Lama XIV, "The Art of Happiness"

"The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different." - Peter Drucker, quoted in various works

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, quoted in various works

"The best way to predict the future is to create it." - Peter Drucker, quoted in various works

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." - Martin Luther King Jr., quoted in various works

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in various works

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'" - Martin Luther King Jr., "I Have a Dream"

"The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it." - Jordan Belfort, "The Wolf of Wall Street"

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." - Douglas Adams, "The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul"

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." - Charles Darwin, quoted in various works

best fiction book quotes

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." - William Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - William Shakespeare, "Hamlet"

"The only rule that ever made sense to me I learned from a history, not an economics, professor at Wharton. 'Fear,' he used to say, 'fear is the most valuable commodity in the universe.'" - Frank Herbert, "Dune"

"The more I know, the more I realize how much I don't know." - Albert Einstein, quoted in various works

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." - Albert Einstein, quoted in various works

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple." - Dr. Seuss, quoted in various works

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucius, quoted in various works

"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting." - Paulo Coelho, "The Alchemist"

"The only impossible journey is the one you never begin." - Tony Robbins, quoted in various works

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." - J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will." - Charlotte Brontë, "Jane Eyre"

"I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul." - Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities"

"There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby"

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am." - Sylvia Plath, "The Bell Jar"

"I would always rather be happy than dignified." - Charlotte Brontë, "Jane Eyre"

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship." - Louisa May Alcott, "Little Women"

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater." - J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Fellowship of the Ring"

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." - Stephen King, "The Gunslinger"

"It is not our abilities that show what we truly are… it is our choices." - J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"

"To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." - J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." - C.S. Lewis, "The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis"

"You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength." - Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

"We are all fools in love." - Jane Austen, "Pride and Prejudice"

"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time." - Mark Twain, quoted in various works

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince"

"I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then." - Lewis Carroll, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

"It is never too late to be what you might have been." - George Eliot, quoted in various works

"All you need is love." - John Lennon, quoted in various works

"The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injustice." - Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

"I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light." - Helen Keller, quoted in various works

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, quoted in various works

"One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful." - Sigmund Freud, quoted in various works

"I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions." - Stephen R. Covey, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

"We do not remember days, we remember moments." - Cesare Pavese, quoted in various works

"What we think, we become." - Buddha, quoted in various works

"It is not our abilities that show what we truly are... it is our choices." - J.K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"

"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance." - Oscar Wilde, quoted in various works

"All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream." - Edgar Allan Poe, quoted in various works

"It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it." - Lou Holtz, quoted in various works

best fiction book quotes

"If you want to be happy, be." - Leo Tolstoy, quoted in various works

"It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." - Sir Edmund Hillary, quoted in various works

"Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking." - William Butler Yeats, quoted in various works

"Believe you can and you're halfway there." - Theodore Roosevelt, quoted in various works

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Nelson Mandela, quoted in various works

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill, quoted in various works

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs." - Middlemarch by George Eliot

  • Book Quotes

Recent Posts

50 Book Quotes for the Festive Season

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" - Analysis

best fiction book quotes

Sign up for our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter for handpicked book recommendations, valuable tips, and honest reviews.

Thanks for submitting!

100 Best Book Quotes of All Time

This post may contains affiliate links. If you click and buy we may make a commission, at no additional charge to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more details.

Book quotes are powerful! They have the power to uplift us when we are sad, inspire us when we are unmotivated, and give us wisdom that can impact our lives.

Here at HookedToBooks, we love quotes just as much as anyone else! We especially love the quotes that came from inspiring authors that have changed the lives of bookworm people around the world.

In today’s article, we compiled a list of the best 100 quotes from books. Some of them will inspire you; others will just shed light on different perspectives of life.

So, without further ado, here are the best 100 Book Quotes of All Time!

100 Best Book Quotes

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” Bryan Stevenson
“Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.” Truman Capote
“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” J.R.R. Tolkien
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy
“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien
“So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.” Norton Juster
“You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.” Natalie Babbitt
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” J.K. Rowling
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” Victor Hugo
“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.” Cormac McCarthy
“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl
“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” Mary Shelley
“When you can’t find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.” Roxane Gay
“I would always rather be happy than dignified.” Charlotte Brontë
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“Time moves slowly, but passes quickly.”  Alice Walker
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” Stephen Chbosky
“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath
“My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.” Charles Dickens
“I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.” Ernest Hemingway
“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” Maya Angelou
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.” Charlotte Brontë
“And, now that you don’t have to be perfect you can be good.” John Steinbeck
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Paulo Coelho
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am.” Sylvia Plath
“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” André Gide
“A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.” Maya Angelou
“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.” John Green
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” Paulo Coelho
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” H.Jackson Brown Jr.
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” Emily Brontë
“Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.” J.K. Rowling
“The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” Chuck Palahniuk
“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”” Toni Morrison
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” David Mitchell
“The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” William Faulkner
“None of us really changes over time. We only become more fully what we are.” Anne Rice
“Most people are nice when you finally see them.” Harper Lee
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Louisa May Alcott
“All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.” Mitch Albom
“When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive.” Paulo Coelho
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Lewis Carroll
“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” Mark Twain
“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” Haruki Murakami
“Maybe everybody in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” John Steinbeck
“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” Nicole Krauss
“I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents.” JA R.
“Sometimes you have to keep on steppin’.” Mary D.
“Ideally a book would have no order to it, and the reader would have to discover his own.” Mark Twain
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Zora Neale Hurston
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” J.K. Rowling
“It’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it.” Leo Tolstoy
“It was a pleasure to burn.” Ray Bradbury
“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” Cormac McCarthy
“When you play the game of thrones you win or you die.” George R. R. Martin
“The thing I realize is, that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.” Jennifer Niven
“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” Pierce Brown
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank
“It is nothing to die; it is dreadful not to live.” Victor Hugo
“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” Lemony Snicket
“Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.” Walter Isaacson
“Practise isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Malcolm Gladwell
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway
“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.” Stephen R. Covey
“The fear you let build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists” Spencer Johnson
“Learn to use your emotions to think, not think with your emotions” Robert T. Kiyosaki
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell
“The most common way people give up power is by thinking they don’t have any” Sheryl Sandberg
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” Eckhart Tolle
“Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them” Brené Brown
“Most people don’t know what they want unless they see it in context” Dan Ariely
“There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it” Simon Sinek
“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life” Carol S. Dweck
“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.” Ralph Ellison
“Politics is when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think.” Patrick Lencioni
In a very real way we have two minds, one that thinks one that feels” Daniel Goleman
“What we mean by “simple” is finding the core of the idea” Dan Heath
“I chose to,””Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything” Greg McKeown
“You cannot be anything you want to be—but you can be a lot more of who you already are.” Tom Rath
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen
“Leadership on the other hand is about creating change that you believe in” Seth Godin
“No matter what we’re doing on the outside, people respond primarily to how we’re feeling about them on the inside.” The Arbinger Institute
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” L. M. Montgomery
“That is the one unforgivable sin in any society. Be different and be damned!” Margaret Mitchell
“I prefer unlucky things. Luck is vulgar. Who wants what luck would bring? I don’t.” D. H. Lawrence
“Tomorrow I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” Margaret Mitchell
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Jane Austen
“We are never so poor that we cannot bless another human, are we?” Kali Fajardo-Anstine
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Tayari Jones
“I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that this was the secret of the universe.” Donna Tartt
“There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.” Bram Stroker
“At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.” Willa Cather
“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” Willa Cather
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only someone remembers to turn on the light.” J.K. Rowling
“Nothing in the world is ever completely wrong. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” Paulo Coelho
“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.” Virginia Woolf
“Just think happy thoughts and you’ll fly.” J.M. Barrie
“The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there…and still on your feet.” Stephen King
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” J.K Rowling
“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour, then it can never be used to hurt you.” George R.R. Martin

We hope you enjoyed reading these awesome book quotes.

Want to discover other quotes ? Check out our other lists:

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

When You Write

70 Best Book Quotes That’ll Inspire You

Books—whether fiction or nonfiction—contain knowledge and wisdom. Sometimes, this wisdom can be lost in a crowd of thousands of other words, hidden under an exciting sentence, or in a very boring passage.

For very few, highly invested readers, though, these lines have nowhere to hide and end up in the readers’ journals or on their walls.

Books have priceless quotes on love, life, struggle, morality, virtue, success, and other aspects of life, and I have compiled some of the best book quotes so that you don’t have to go through piles of pages just to find today’s inspiration.

Before you get to the quotes, read some tips on how to use these quotes.

How to Use Book Quotes to Motivate Yourself

Here are a few tips on how to use quotes effectively:

Choose quotes that resonate with you: Look for quotations that relate to your values, objectives, and challenges. These are more likely to inspire and motivate you.

Write them down: Make a collection of your favorite quotes on your phone or computer, or jot them down on paper or in a journal. You may find it easier to stay motivated if you keep them in a location that is easy to get to and read.

Think about their meaning for a moment. Consider what the quote means to you and how it relates to your life. By doing so, you may be able to better internalize the message and give it personal meaning.

Use them as a reminder: Keep the quote visible, such as on your desk or the lock screen of your phone, as a reminder to stay inspired and goal-focused.

Share them with others: Share these quotes with friends, family, or colleagues who may also need a little motivation. Your loved ones may help you when detouring because they know your inspiration (they may use the same quotes to remind you of your goals or objectives).

The Best Book Quotes

Below are a few popular book quotes. To help you find the book, I have used either the author or the character that spoke the words:

1. “To be or not to be, that is the question.” – William Shakespeare, Hamlet

2. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

3. “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

4. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self–evident, that all men are created equal.'” – Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream speech

5. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

6. “Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.” -Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

7. “Where there’s life there’s hope.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

8. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

9. “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

10. “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

11. “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

12. “Thomas Edison’s last words were “It’s very beautiful over there”. I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.” – John Green, Looking for Alaska

13. “Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

14. “There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

15. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

16. “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

17. “One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” – Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

18. “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” – Maximus Decimus Meridius, Gladiator

19. “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” – Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

20. “Anything worth dying for is certainly worth living for.” – Joseph Heller, Catch-22

21. “It is as painful perhaps to be awakened from a vision as to be born.” – James Joyce, Ulysses

22. “Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” – Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

23. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

24. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

25. “There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

26. “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges

27. “The only way to get what you want in this world is through hard work.” – Toni Morrison, Beloved

28. “Well, if you can’t have what you want, you could try to want what you have.” – Gillian Shields, DogFish

29. “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” – Mark Twain

30. “Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

31. “A safe fairyland is untrue to all worlds.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

32. “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” – C.S. Lewis 

33. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

34. “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus

35. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

36. “The very essence of romance is uncertainty.” – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays

37. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

38. “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

39. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self–seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4– 7

40. “Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

41. “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” – Joe Klaas, Twelve Steps to Happiness

42. “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” – Flannery O’Connor

43. “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.” – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

44. “Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

45. “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” – Aristotle

46. “Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” – Louis de Bernieres, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

47. “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” – Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

48. “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”– Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows .

49. “The movements which work revolutions in the world are born out of the dreams and visions in a peasant’s heart on the hillside.” – James Joyce, Ulysses

50. “There’s nothing easy about finding your way through a world loaded with obstacles that others can’t or don’t see.” – Michelle Obama, The Light We Carry.

51. “Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

52. “A child cannot pay for its mother’s milk.” – Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

53. “Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.” James Joyce, Ulysses.

54. “The longer I live, the more uninformed I feel. Only the young have an explanation for everything.” -Isabel Allende, City of the Beasts

55. “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

56. “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” – Oscar Wilde

57. “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” – Maya Angelou

58. “Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

59. “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays, Vol. II: 1926-1929

60. “Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” – Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

61. “Sometimes what we don’t want is actually what we need.” – Nikolas Lee, The Iron-Jawed Boy

62. “Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

67. “Success is not how high you have climbed, but how you make a positive difference to the world.” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

68. “Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

69. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

70. “Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

71. “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz

72. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” – Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

73. “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

74. “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” – Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World

Final Words on the Book Quotes

Book quotes can be important for a variety of reasons. Insightful nuggets of wisdom that readers can apply to their own lives can also be found in quotes. Readers enjoy gathering and sharing quotes that speak to them personally because they can be motivational or consoling.

Additionally, quotes can be used to start conversations about books. Sharing and debating quotes allows readers to explore the significance and deeper meaning of a book, as well as its themes and ideas, in greater depth.

Book quotes can also be an important and meaningful part of your writing process. For example, you can use quotes to start a poem or beautify your essay. Whatever you do with the quotes is up to you, but we can all agree that they are useful in some way.

Recommended Reading...

Blind date with a book ideas: unique ways to discover your next favorite read, most popular book genres: a comprehensive guide, complete list of dr seuss books in order of publication, which book uses exactly 50 different words.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

© 2024 When You Write


Write your book in Reedsy Studio. Try the beloved writing app for free today.

Craft your masterpiece in Reedsy Studio

Plan, write, edit, and format your book in our free app made for authors.

Reedsy Community

Blog • Perfecting your Craft

Posted on Mar 29, 2019

170 Writing Quotes by Famous Authors for Every Occasion

When you're feeling stuck on your novel, an important thing to remember is that we've all been there in the past. That's right — even the J.K Rowling's and Ernest Hemingway's of this world. Which is why it's always a great idea to turn to your most famous peers (and their writing quotes) for inspiration.

Without further ado, here are 170 writing quotes  to guide you through every stage of writing. ( Yes! We've added more since we first published this post! )

The number one piece of advice that most authors have for other authors is to read, read, read. Here’s why.

1. “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools ) to write. Simple as that.” — Stephen King
2. “You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” — Annie Proulx
3. “Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.” — Eudora Welty
4. “Read, read, read. Read everything  —  trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.” — William Faulkner
5. “I kept always two books in my pocket: one to read, one to write in.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
6. “The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write.” — Ernest Gaines
7. “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” — Samuel Johnson
8. “Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.” ― Lisa See
9. “One sure window into a person’s soul is his reading list.” — Mary B. W. Tabor

writing quotes-4

The well of inspiration, we’re afraid, often does run dry. Here are the writing quotes to replenish it and, hopefully, remind you that there might be a story idea waiting for you just around the corner of life.



How to Write a Novel

Enroll in our course and become an author in three months.

10. "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." — Toni Morrison
11. “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” — Orson Scott
12. “Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” — Stephen King
13. “Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.” — Mark Twain
14. “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” — George Orwell
15. “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” — Natalie Goldberg
16. “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” — Madeleine L'Engle
17. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” — Henry David Thoreau
18. “Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” — William S. Burroughs
19. “Write what should not be forgotten.” — Isabel Allende
20. “The story must strike a nerve in me. My heart should start pounding when I hear the first line in my head. I start trembling at the risk.” — Susan Sontag
21. “Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It’s a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works. I like a mystery, as you may have noticed.” — J.K. Rowling
22. “As for ‘Write what you know,’ I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it’s a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it’s my duty to testify about them.” — Ursula K. Le Guin
23. “I’m very lucky in that I don’t understand the world yet. If I understood the world, it would be harder for me to write these books.” — Mo Willems
24. “Ideas are cheap. It’s the execution that is all important.” — George R.R. Martin
25. “If you wait for inspiration to write you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” — Dan Poynter

Now, finding your "voice" is not as simple as entering a nationally-televised competition on NBC ( nyuk nyuk! ). Yet your voice will define you as a writer, and these famous writers have plenty of tips and writing quotes for you when it comes to finding it.

Which famous author do you write like?

Find out which literary luminary is your stylistic soulmate. Takes one minute!

26. “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.” — Allen Ginsberg
27. “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” — Jack Kerouac
28. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” —Robert Frost
29. “It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.” — P.D. James
30. “Voice is not just the result of a single sentence or paragraph or page. It’s not even the sum total of a whole story. It’s all your work laid out across the table like the bones and fossils of an unidentified carcass.” — Chuck Wendig
31. “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.” — Elmore Leonard
32. “Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” — Meg Rosoff
33. “I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
34. “Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.” — Virginia Woolf
35. “Everywhere I go, I’m asked if the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.” — Flannery O’Connor
36. “There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn’t because the book is not there and worth being written — it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and, if you fail to find that form, the story will not tell itself.” — Mark Twain

writing quotes-2

37. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour
38. “First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him.” — Ray Bradbury
39. “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” — Ernest Hemingway
40. “Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.” — Mark Twain
41. “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of job: It’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” — Neil Gaiman
42. “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” — Ernest Hemingway
43. “It doesn’t matter how many book ideas you have if you can’t finish writing your book.” — Joe Bunting
44. “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood
45. “A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” — Sidney Sheldon
46. “I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on until I am.” — Jane Austen
47. "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good." — William Faulkner
48. “One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing — writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.” — Lawrence Block
49. “Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.” — John Steinbeck
50. “You can fix anything but a blank page.” — Nora Roberts
51. “I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” — Pearl S. Buck
52. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway

Don’t get discouraged if you get this far and you’re thinking that your first draft is rather poor. These writing quotes are reminders that it’s just part of the process.

53. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” — Terry Pratchett
54. “Get through a draft as quickly as possible.” — Joshua Wolf Shenk
55. “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” — Douglas Adams
56. “The first draft of everything is shit.” — Ernest Hemingway
57. “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” — Frank Herbert
58. “I would advise any beginning writer to write the first drafts as if no one else will ever read them — without a thought about publication — and only in the last draft to consider how the work will look from the outside.” — Anne Tyler
59. “I just give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90 percent of my first drafts, so it doesn’t really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there’s a 90 percent chance I’m just going to delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating.” — John Green
60. “Be willing to write really badly.” — Jennifer Egan
61. “On first drafts: It is completely raw, the sort of thing I feel free to do with the door shut — it’s the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts.” — Stephen King
62. “I do not over-intellectualise the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.” — Tom Clancy
63. “Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right.” — Amy Joy

writing quotes-3

64. “You fail only if you stop writing.” — Ray Bradbury
65. “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.” — Isaac Asimov
66. “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” — Ray Bradbury
67. “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ― Octavia E. Butler
68. “I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it.” — Chinua Achebe
69. “The secret to being a writer is that you have to write. It’s not enough to think about writing or to study literature or plan a future life as an author. You really have to lock yourself away, alone, and get to work.” — Augusten Burroughs
70. “It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.” — Gerald Brenan
71. “Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.” — James Baldwin
72. “You just have to go on when it is worst and most helpless — there is only one thing to do with a novel and that is go straight on through to the end of the damn thing.” — Ernest Hemingway
73. “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” — Kurt Vonnegut
74. “The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ from Flaubert. Which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’” — Helen Simpson
75. “I’ve been writing since I was six. It is a compulsion, so I can’t really say where the desire came from; I’ve always had it. My breakthrough with the first book came through persistence, because a lot of publishers turned it down.” — J.K. Rowling
76. “Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.” — Ray Bradbury
77. “It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.” — Virginia Woolf
78. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” — Richard Bach

“Write drunk, edit sober” might be one of the most famous writing quotes about editing, but we can’t all outdrink Ernest Hemingway. Which is why these other words of wisdom and writing quotes exist!

79. “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” ― Jodi Picoult

Tell us about your book, and we'll give you a writing playlist

It'll only take a minute!

80. “When your story is ready for a rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” — Stephen King
81. “The best advice on writing was given to me by my first editor, Michael Korda, of Simon and Schuster, while writing my first book. 'Finish your first draft and then we'll talk,' he said. It took me a long time to realize how good the advice was. Even if you write it wrong, write and finish your first draft. Only then, when you have a flawed whole, do you know what you have to fix.” — Dominick Dunne
82. “Editing might be a bloody trade, but knives aren’t the exclusive property of butchers. Surgeons use them too.” — Blake Morrison
83. “The main thing I try to do is write as clearly as I can. I rewrite a good deal to make it clear.” — E.B. White
84. “You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” — Arthur Plotnik
85. “Half my life is an act of revision.” — John Irving
86. “I'm all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” — Truman Capote
87. “It is perfectly okay to write garbage — as long as you edit brilliantly.” — C. J. Cherryh
88. “I've found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.” ― Don Roff
89. “Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we'.” — Mark Twain
90. “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” ― Dr. Seuss
91. “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” — Henry David Thoreau
92. “I would write a book, or a short story, at least three times — once to understand it, the second time to improve the prose, and a third to compel it to say what it still must say. Somewhere I put it this way: first drafts are for learning what one's fiction wants him to say. Revision works with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to reform it. Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.” — Bernard Malamud
93. “No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.” — Russell Lynes
94. “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” — Annie Dillard
95. “No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft.” — H.G. Wells

writing quotes-6

96. “A writer is a world trapped in a person.” — Victor Hugo
97. “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” — Thomas Mann
98. “People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.” — R.L. Stine
99. “As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.” ― Ernest Hemingway
100. “I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.” — Gustave Flaubert
101. “Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.” — Sylvia Plath
102. “I go out to my little office, where I’ve got a manuscript, and the last page I was happy with is on top. I read that, and it’s like getting on a taxiway. I’m able to go through and revise it and put myself — click — back into that world.” — Stephen King
103. “I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.” — William Carlos Williams
104. “Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. I have 10 or so, and that’s a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.” — Gore Vidal
105. “For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.” — Catherine Drinker Bowen
106. “The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea.” — Thomas Mann
107. “Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.” — T.S. Eliot
108. “Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” — Margaret Chittenden
109. “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” — Eugene Ionesco
110. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin
111. “A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.” — Roald Dahl
112. “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” — Gloria Steinem

From cavemen to our modern day in the 21st-century, we have written our joys and sorrows throughout history. What compels us to write? Here’s what some of the most beloved writers we know have to say.

113. “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” — Anne Frank
114. “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” — Anais Nin
115. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou
116. “The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.” — Zadie Smith
117. “The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis.” — William Styron
118. “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” — Robin Williams
119. “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced.” — Aldous Huxley
120. “You can make anything by writing.” — C.S. Lewis
121. “Writers live twice.” —  Natalie Goldberg
122. “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” — Winston Churchill
123. “Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it.” — Oscar Wilde
124. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” — Ray Bradbury

writing quotes-5

125. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass .” ― Anton Chekhov
126. “My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.” — Anton Chekhov
127. “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” — Somerset Maugham
128. “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” — Stephen King
129. “Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” — Mark Twain
130. “Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.” — Esther Freud
131. “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. [...] All they do is show you've been to college.” — Kurt Vonnegut
132. “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.” — Herman Melville
133. “Write drunk, edit sober.” — Ernest Hemingway
134. “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” — Mark Twain
135. “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” — Neil Gaiman
136. “Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” — Jane Yolen
137. “Style means the right word. The rest matters little.” — Jules Renard
138. “My aim in constructing sentences is to make the sentence utterly easy to understand, writing what I call transparent prose. I’ve failed dreadfully if you have to read a sentence twice to figure out what I meant.” — Ken Follett
139. “And one of [the things you learn as you get older] is, you really need less… My model for this is late Beethoven. He moves so strangely and quite suddenly sometimes from place to place in his music, in the late quartets. He knows where he’s going and he just doesn’t want to waste all that time getting there… One is aware of this as one gets older. You can’t waste time.” — Ursula K. Le Guin
140. “ Part 1. I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English — it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in . Part 2. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. Part 3. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.” — Mark Twain

“You miss 100% of the shots that you never take — Wayne Gretsky,” as Michael Scott once said. In tribute to this sentiment, these writing quotes help show why it’s important not to let failure or rejection get you down.

141. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” — John Wooden
142. “Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil — but there is no way around them.” — Isaac Asimov
143. “Was I bitter? Absolutely. Hurt? You bet your sweet ass I was hurt. Who doesn’t feel a part of their heart break at rejection. You ask yourself every question you can think of, what, why, how come, and then your sadness turns to anger. That’s my favorite part. It drives me, feeds me, and makes one hell of a story.” — Jennifer Salaiz
144. “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” — Sylvia Plath
145. “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent, he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” — Harper Lee
147. “I used to save all my rejection slips because I told myself, one day I’m going to autograph these and auction them. And then I lost the box.” — James Lee Burke
148. “This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.” — Barbara Kingsolver
149. “To ward off a feeling of failure, she joked that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejection slips, which she chose not to see as messages to stop, but rather as tickets to the game.” — Anita Shreve
150. “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” — Neil Gaiman
151. “The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.” — William Faulkner
152. “I think that you have to believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours — so enjoy the view.” — Michael York
153. “I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.” — Erica Jong
154. “I tell writers to keep reading, reading, reading. Read widely and deeply. And I tell them not to give up even after getting rejection letters. And only write what you love.” — Anita Diamant
155. “I could write an entertaining novel about rejection slips, but I fear it would be overly long.” — Louise Brown
156. “I had immediate success in the sense that I sold something right off the bat. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake and it really wasn’t. I have drawers full of — or I did have — drawers full of rejection slips.” — Fred Saberhagen
157. “An absolutely necessary part of a writer’s equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts upon himself.” — Irwin Shaw
158. “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” — C. S. Lewis

Why does writing matter? If there’s anyone who might know the answer, it’s the people who write — and continue to write, despite adverse circumstances. Here are a few pennies for their thoughts.

159. “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” — Virginia Woolf
160. “If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.” — Wally Lamb
161. “A word after a word after a word is power.” — Margaret Atwood
162. “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” — Martin Luther
163. “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” — Albert Camus
164. “Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” — David Foster Wallace
165. “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” — Philip Pullman
166. “All stories have to at least try to explain some small portion of the meaning of life.” — Gene Weingarten
167. “If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.” — Peter Handke
168. “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” — Tom Clancy
169. “If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don’t listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.” — Lillian Hellman
170. “Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.” — Lev Grossman

Of course, writing quotes by themselves won't write the book for you — you alone have that power. However, we hope that this post has helped inspire you in some way! If you're looking for more in-depth resources, you can check out these guides:



Author and ghostwriter Tom Bromley will guide you from page 1 to the finish line.

  • How to Develop a Strong Theme
  • How to Build a Character Profile
  • How to Become a Better Writer Today

Have a favorite quote that we missed? If you know of more cool quotes by writers, write them in the comments!

2 responses

Brian Welte says:

08/05/2019 – 12:28

Here's a quote I absolutely adore: "The author, in his work, must be like God in the Universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere" [Quote from Gustave Flaubert]

Comments are currently closed.

Continue reading

Recommended posts from the Reedsy Blog

best fiction book quotes

What is Tone in Literature? Definition & Examples

We show you, with supporting examples, how tone in literature influences readers' emotions and perceptions of a text.

best fiction book quotes

Writing Cozy Mysteries: 7 Essential Tips & Tropes

We show you how to write a compelling cozy mystery with advice from published authors and supporting examples from literature.

best fiction book quotes

Man vs Nature: The Most Compelling Conflict in Writing

What is man vs nature? Learn all about this timeless conflict with examples of man vs nature in books, television, and film.

best fiction book quotes

The Redemption Arc: Definition, Examples, and Writing Tips

Learn what it takes to redeem a character with these examples and writing tips.

best fiction book quotes

How Many Sentences Are in a Paragraph?

From fiction to nonfiction works, the length of a paragraph varies depending on its purpose. Here's everything you need to know.

best fiction book quotes

Narrative Structure: Definition, Examples, and Writing Tips

What's the difference between story structure and narrative structure? And how do you choose the right narrative structure for you novel?

Join a community of over 1 million authors

Reedsy is more than just a blog. Become a member today to discover how we can help you publish a beautiful book.

RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.

Enter your email or get started with a social account:

best fiction book quotes

When you think of science fiction, you probably think of time-traveling space explorers, intergalactic adventurers, alien encounters, and far-out futures. Although the genre is best known for its emphasis on science, technology, and action-adventure, there are actually a lot of beautiful sci-fi quotes that will make you see it in a whole new light.

Science fiction is the kind of book genre that people make a lot of assumptions about. If you've never dabbled in the sci-fi section of the bookstore, you probably assume most of the writing is about aliens and outer space, dark dystopias, and techy futures where robots and humans coexist. While it is true that sci-fi is often about these subjects and includes its fair share of science and technology jargon, for the purposes of believable world building, not every page of the books are like that. The very best stories also include emotion and heart, insight and wonderment, beauty and awe. Like any great novel, sci-fi books are more than just plot lines, character names, and technical terms. They are filled with moments of utter beauty, and there are plenty of quotes to prove it.

Get ready to be blown away with breathtaking words with these 15 surprisingly beautiful sci-fi quotes from some of the best writers in the genre .

"A fire-eater must eat fire, even if he has to kindle it himself."

— Isaac Asimov, Foundation

“After all, a person is herself, and others. Relationships chisel the final shape of one's being. I am me, and you.”

— N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season

“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn't know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”

— Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

“Kindness eases change./ Love quiets fear./ And a sweet and powerful/ Positive obsession/ Blunts pain,/ Diverts rage,/ And engages each of us/ In the greatest,/ The most intense/ Of our chosen struggles.”

— Octavia E. Butler, Parable of Talents

“Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything's possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.”

— Marie Lu, Legend

“She flies higher than she’s ever flown before, maybe she is trying to leave the earth. She isn’t sure, she isn’t thinking about it. She’s far in her mind, deep in her own thoughts, the air on her wings feels amazing, she is swimming, rolling through the air as if it’s water. She lifts her head as she flies and lets out a series of loud chirps. And that’s when she sees it. The largest bat ever. Flying faster than any hawk or eagle or owl, roaring like some sort of monster. She doesn’t know the human word ‘dragon’ otherwise she would call it that. There is no time to flee. No time to turn. No time to shriek, and no pain. It is like being thrown into the stars.”

— Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

“Some things you can never leave behind. They don't belong to the past. They belong to you.”

— Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave

“Know yourself. You are worth knowing. Examine your life. The unexamined life is not worth living. Be aware that other people have equal significance. Give them the space to make their own choices, and let their choices count as you want them to let your choices count. Remember that excellence has no stopping point and keep on pursuing it. Make art that can last and that says something nobody else can say. Live the best life you can, and become the best self you can. You cannot know which of your actions is the lever that will move worlds. Not even Necessity knows all ends. Know yourself."

— Jo Walton, The Just City

“Maybe I'll go where I can see stars, he said to himself as the car gained velocity and altitude; it headed away from San Francisco, toward the uninhabited desolation to the north. To the place where no living thing would go. Not unless it felt that the end had come.”

— Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

“Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, seems still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery, and be overwhelmed by disappointments; yet, when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures.”

— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

“Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it, too?”

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

“There's something to be said for hunger: at least it lets you know you're still alive.”

— Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in 10 seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”

— Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“His eyes were eggs of unstable crystal, vibrating with a frequency whose name was rain and the sound of trains, suddenly sprouting a humming forest of hair-fine glass spines.”

— William Gibson, Neuromancer

best fiction book quotes

fiction book Quotes

Recommended quote pages.

  • Help Center
  • B Board Book Club
  • P Picture Book Club
  • J Junior Chapter Book Club
  • M Middle Grade Book Club
  • Gift a Book Club
  • B Book Registries
  • Beautiful Collections
  • C Classrooms
  • B Book Fairs
  • Schedule Demo

Book Platform

  • Find a Book
  • Reading App
  • Community Editors

Authors & Illustrators

  • Get Your Book Reviewed
  • Submit Original Work

Follow Bookroo


  • Search Please fill out this field.
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Give a Gift Subscription
  • Newsletters
  • Sweepstakes
  • Culture and Lifestyle
  • Activities and Entertainment

60 Quotes About Reading That’ll Inspire You To Pick Up A Book

Open your heart to these words from authors and celebrities about their favorite pastime

best fiction book quotes

  • Quotes On The Magic Of Reading

Quotes For Book Lovers

Quotes about reading that will expand your horizons.

  • Reading Quotes For Children

Fiordaliso / Getty Images

Few things are better than reading a good book on your porch on a warm summer night, but sometimes it’s nice to get some encouragement from other readers to get those pages turning. That’s why we’ve pulled some quotes about reading that are sure to satisfy every kind of reader. We even have some quotes about reading for the kids and students in your life. 

Quotes About The Magic Of Books

Southern Living

  • “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island.” ― Walt Disney
  • “To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” ― Victor Hugo
  • “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” ― Jane Austen
  • “Books are the mirrors of the soul.”― Virginia Woolf
  • “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” ― John Locke
  • “I can survive well enough on my own – if given the proper reading material.” ― Sarah J. Maas
  • “Literature is my Utopia” ― Helen Keller
  • “If a book is well written, I always find it too short.” ― Jane Austen
  • “Some books are so familiar that reading them is like being home again.” ― Louisa May Alcott
  • “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” ― Anna Quindlen
  • “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” ― Stephen King
  • “A book is a gift you can open again and again.” ― Garrison Keillor
  • “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” ― Harper Lee
  • “There is no friend as loyal as a book.”― Ernest Hemingway
  • “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”― Lemony Snicket
  • “The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.” ― René Descartes
  • “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” ― Cicero
  • “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis 
  • “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” ― Henry David Thoreau
  • “I think books are like people, in the sense that they’ll turn up in your life when you most need them.” ― Emma Thompson
  • “I guess there are never enough books.” ― John Steinbeck
  • “For my whole life, my favorite activity was reading. It’s not the most social pastime.” ― Audrey Hepburn
  • “Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real.” ― Nora Ephron
  • “The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.”― Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “You will learn most things by looking, but reading gives understanding. Reading will make you free.” ― Paul Rand
  • “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” ― Jane Austen
  • “I can feel infinitely alive curled up on the sofa reading a book.” ― Benedict Cumberbatch
  • "Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book." ― E.B. White
  • “What I love most about reading: It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. And keep climbing.” ― Oprah
  • “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” ― Margaret Fuller
  • “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “I’ve always thought that a good book should be either the entry point inward, to learn about yourself, or a door outward, to open you up to new worlds.” ― Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • "I'm reading so much and exposing myself to so many new ideas. It almost feels like the chemistry and the structure of my brain is changing so rapidly sometimes,” ― Emma Watson
  • "Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind," ― Toni Morrison
  • “I have challenged myself that I will read thousands of books and I will empower myself with knowledge. Pens and books are the weapons that defeat terrorism,” ― Malala Yousafzai
  • “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” ― Joseph Addison
  • “Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.”― Mary Schmich
  • “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” ― Joyce Carol Oates
  • “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.”― Helen Exley
  • “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” ― Mortimer J. Adler
  • "One of the many gifts that books give readers is a connection to each other. When we share an affection for a writer, an author or a story, we also have a better understanding of people unlike ourselves. Books cultivate empathy." ― Sarah Jessica Parker 
  • "All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened, and after you are finished reading one, you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was." ― Ernest Hemingway 
  • "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." ― Benjamin Franklin

Quotes About Reading For Children And Students

  • “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” ― Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
  • “I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.” ― Roald Dahl
  • “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” ― C.S. Lewis
  • “Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.” ― Napoléon Bonaparte
  • “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”― Maya Angelou
  • “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” ― Harry Truman
  • "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go," ― Dr. Seuss 
  • "I wouldn't be a songwriter if it wasn't for books that I loved as a kid. I think that when you can escape into a book it trains your imagination to think big and to think that more can exist than what you see." ― Taylor Swift 
  • "Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible," ― Barack Obama 
  • “I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” ​​― Maya Angelou
  • “Don’t give up reading, the more you practice, the easier it will get.” ― unknown
  • “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them.“ ― Judy Blume
  • “A child who carries a book with a bookmark in it is in two places at the same time.” ― Tony Abbott
  • “When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young” ― Maya Angelou 
  • “I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.” ― Robert Louis Stevenson

Related Articles

  • International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

Paul Auster.

‘Getting a book idea feels like a buzz in the head’: Paul Auster – a life in quotes

The author of The New York Trilogy, Leviathan and 4 3 2 1 has died at the age of 77. Here are some of the most memorable quotes from interviews he gave throughout his life

Paul Auster, American author of The New York Trilogy, dies aged 77

I’ve always written by hand. Mostly with a fountain pen, but sometimes with a pencil – especially for corrections. If I could write directly on a typewriter or a computer, I would do it. But keyboards have always intimidated me. I’ve never been able to think clearly with my fingers in that position. A pen is a much more primitive instrument. You feel that the words are coming out of your body and then you dig the words into the page. Writing has always had that tactile quality for me. It’s a physical experience.
Only a person who really felt compelled to do it would shut himself up in a room every day … When I think about the alternatives – how beautiful life can be, how interesting – I think it’s a crazy way to live your life.
The excitement, the struggle, is emboldening and vivifying. I just feel more alive writing.
You can never achieve what you hope to achieve. You can come close sometimes and others may appreciate your work, but you, the author, will always feel you’ve failed. You know you’ve done your best, but your best isn’t good enough. Maybe that’s why you keep writing. So you can fail a little better the next time.
Generally, I don’t want to do things. I feel lazy and unmotivated. It’s only when an idea grabs hold of me and I can’t get rid of it, when I try not to think about it and yet it’s ambushing me all the time … That’s how it begins. A book, at the same time, also has to do with what I call a buzz in the head. It’s a certain kind of music that I start hearing. It’s the music of the language, but it’s also the music of the story. I have to live with that music for a while before I can put any words on the page. I think that’s because I have to get my body as much as my mind accustomed to the music of writing that particular book. It really is a mysterious feeling.

On being described as postmodernist

‘Postmodern’ is a term I don’t understand … there’s an arrogance to all this labelling, a self-assurance that I find to be distasteful, if not dishonest. I try to be humble in the face of my own confusions, and I don’t want to elevate my doubts to some status they don’t deserve. I’m really stumbling. I’m really in the dark. I don’t know . And if that – what I would call honesty – qualifies as postmodern, then OK, but it’s not as if I ever wanted to write a book that sounded like John Barth or Robert Coover .

Paul Auster speaking during a reading event in solidarity of support for author Salman Rushdie outside the New York Public Library in 2022.

On identity

I think a moment comes at around the age of about five or six when you have a thought and become capable of telling yourself, simultaneously, that you are thinking that thought. This doubling occurs when we begin to reflect on our own thinking. Once you can do that, you are able to tell the story of yourself to yourself. We all have a continuous, unbroken narrative within ourselves about who we are, and we go on telling it every day of our lives.
Some people are able to tell a more or less truthful story about themselves. Others are fantasists. Their sense of who they are is so at odds with what the rest of the world feels about them that they become pathetic … Then, there’s the other extreme, the people who diminish themselves in their own minds. They’re often much greater people than they think they are and, often, much admired by others. Still, they kill themselves inside. Almost by definition, the good are hard on themselves – and the less than good believe they’re the best.
Human beings are imponderable, they can rarely be captured in words. If you open yourself up to all the different aspects of a person, you are usually left in a state of befuddlement.

On life-changing moments

(When asked about a moment when a boy standing next to him at a summer camp was killed by a lightning strike.) It was the seminal experience of my life. At 14 everything you go through is deep. You are a work-in-progress. But being right next to a boy who was essentially murdered by the gods changed my whole view of the world. I had assumed that the little bourgeois comforts of my life in postwar suburban New Jersey had a kind of order. And then I realised that nothing had that sort of order. I’ve lived with that thought ever since. It’s chilling, but also liberating.
People who don’t like my work say that the connections seem too arbitrary. But that’s how life is.
You have to think of love as a kind of tree or a plant … And that parts are going to wither and you might have to cut off a branch to sustain the overall growth of the organism. If you get fixated on keeping it exactly as it was, one day it will die in front of your eyes. For a love to be sustained it has to be organic. You have to keep developing as it goes along so everything is all intertwined, even the sheer strangeness of it all.
It’s such a powerful idea. That connection we have with other people and how vital they are to our lives. The importance of love. It can be hard for us to talk about it the way it deserves to be talked about. Long-term, ongoing, lifelong love and all the possible twists and turns it will take.
We are so smug. We have such feelings of superiority to the rest of the world. Even the stupidest things we do are considered good because they’re American , underlined six times.
[The right wing tries to present President Biden as a] kind of doddering old, incompetent man, it’s far from the truth … He is perfectly capable and knows more about government than just about anybody in Washington. He’s made his blunders, we all know that, but he’s not a bad choice at the moment and I can’t think of anyone better than him today.

Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt.

On his wife, Siri Hustvedt

Siri is not just a good writer but a genius. I think Siri is the most intelligent, brilliant person I’ve ever known. She has an incredible talent for thinking and absorbing new information, taking on new subjects, going through vast mazes of knowledge, and she has an omnivorous mind. How exciting it’s been for me to watch what she’s been doing all these years we’ve been together.
I’ve learned so much from her over the years. She’s an ardent feminist and I agree with her in all her positions. They are mine as well.
Everyone thinks it’s a problem to be married to someone doing a similar kind of work, but on the contrary, it’s a great help. We each understand the needs of the other. We spend our days in the same house two floors apart. She’s on the top floor, and I’m on the bottom floor of our brownstone in Brooklyn. We don’t talk during the day … We get together afterwards in the late afternoon or early evening and start living like a normal couple. During the day, silence reigns in the house.

Reflecting on his life

There are so many things about my own life that I don’t understand. My actions over the years. Why did I do that? Why that impulse? People spend years in analysis trying to figure out the answers. I’ve never done that so I’ve been more or less on my own, trying to figure things out, and I honestly have to report that I don’t think I’ve made a lot of progress.
  • Paul Auster
  • Autobiography and memoir
  • Siri Hustvedt
  • Literary criticism

Comments (…)

Most viewed.


Supported by

The Plucky Irish Heroine of ‘Brooklyn’ Is Back — and in Crisis

Now a suburban married mother, Eilis Lacey finds herself in a quandary in “Long Island,” Colm Tóibín’s sequel to his much-admired novel.

  • Share full article

This illustration features a female figure dressed in loose trousers and a roomy jacket, viewed from the back as she stands in a room gazing out the middle of a trio of windows at the rooftops of several suburban-looking houses.

By A.O. Scott

  • Barnes and Noble
  • Books-A-Million

When you purchase an independently reviewed book through our site, we earn an affiliate commission.

LONG ISLAND, by Colm Tóibín

In the early 1950s, Eilis Lacey, a fictional character, said goodbye to Enniscorthy, the real town in County Wexford, Ireland, where her creator, the novelist Colm Tóibín, would be born a few years later. She crossed the Atlantic, making her way to Brooklyn and into “ Brooklyn ,” Tóibín’s near-perfect 2009 novel about her emigration.

Eilis was often lonely, but she was hardly alone. In the 1950s, Ireland lost more than 15 percent of its population to emigration; 50,000 of those who left made their way to America. But Eilis wasn’t a statistic or a symbol: She was a soul — a witty, observant, sometimes anxious young woman finding her way and her place in the world. (Both her caution and her boldness were superbly captured by Saoirse Ronan in John Crowley’s film adaptation .)

Where would Eilis go from Brooklyn? The obvious answer, supplied in the title of Tóibín’s new novel, “Long Island,” was foreshadowed in the earlier book. On one of their dates, Tony Fiorello, a Bensonhurst plumber and Eilis’s eventual husband, tells her about his plan to start a construction business with his brothers out on the island, with a cluster of houses where the whole extended Fiorello family will live.

As “Long Island” gets underway, that plan has long since come to pass. It’s the mid-1970s, and Eilis has taken part in another large-scale demographic movement, the exodus from the cities to the suburbs. She lives with Tony and their two teenage children near a bevy of in-laws.

The voyage to America, encouraged by her older sister, Rose, and enabled by a helpful priest, wasn’t entirely Eilis’s idea. Neither was the relocation to Long Island — that was Tony’s dream. But Eilis is hardly passive. She is an interesting and vivid character because she manages to make her destiny her choice. She may be constrained, in Lindenhurst as in Enniscorthy, by social norms and family expectations, but in her own mind, and in the eyes of sympathetic readers, she is free.

In the opening pages of “Long Island,” fate deals her a wild card. Or rather, Tony does. A stranger shows up at Eilis’s door to inform her that his wife is pregnant and that Tony, who had done some repairs for the family, is the father.

“If anyone thinks I am keeping an Italian plumber’s brat in my house and have my own children believe that it came into the world as decently as they did, they can have another think,” he tells her. Because he is Irish, Eilis takes him at his word. And perhaps because she is Irish, she is equally adamant. “The baby will not pass the threshold,” she tells her mother-in-law, who clearly has something else in mind.

Tony’s transgression, and his family’s response to it, underscores Eilis’s alienation from the large Italian American family she has married into. With her marriage in limbo, she decides to return to Enniscorthy for the first time in more than 20 years. Her children, Larry and Rosella — who have had “no real interest in Enniscorthy, or even Ireland” — will join her for part of the summer.

Readers of “Brooklyn” will recall that Eilis’s previous trip home came in the wake of Rose’s death. If you’re just joining her, Tóibín offers a succinct recap of that visit:

That summer, in Enniscorthy, Eilis had a romance with Jim Farrell. No one … knew that she was, by that time, married to Tony. They had got married in Brooklyn. Eilis had wanted to tell her mother as soon as she arrived home, but it was too hard because it meant that, no matter what, she would have to go back to America. So she told no one, no one at all. And then, at summer’s end, she had abruptly left, just as Jim was making it clear that he wanted to marry her.

This loose end turns into the warp and woof of “Long Island.” Jim, who never married and never got over Eilis, manages a pub he inherited from his parents. He has been carrying on a discreet affair with Nancy, who had been Eilis’s best friend and who is now a widow running a chip shop in town. Jim and Nancy take pains to avoid the inquisitive eyes and judgmental tongues of their neighbors, but once Eilis shows up no secrets are safe.

Eilis herself, with her rented car and her Americanized attitudes, attracts envious, curious, suspicious scrutiny, including from her own mother. Meanwhile, her renewed connection with Jim and Nancy, coming on the heels of her marital crisis back home, sends her and the novel into a swirl of complicated feelings and difficult choices.

“Long Island” is both a sequel to “Brooklyn” and a companion to “ Nora Webster ,” Tóibín’s 2014 novel — his masterpiece, in my opinion — about another Enniscorthy woman’s struggle for autonomy. Eilis’s mother makes an appearance in that novel, which is set in the late 1960s and early ’70s. While events in the wider world are mentioned in all three books — the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the war in Vietnam — these are not historical novels in the usual sense. Tóibín’s interest is in the finer grain of individual perception.

He brings us close enough to Eilis, and to Nora, to see what and how they think, but not so close as to invade their privacy or compromise their dignity. In an autobiographical essay, Tóibín applied James Merrill’s description of Elizabeth Bishop to his own mother, who gave “a lifelong impersonation of an ordinary woman.” Nora and Eilis are drawn in similar terms, their ordinary experiences of migration, marriage and motherhood filtered through an intense and meticulously observed inner life. What holds the reader’s eye, in “Brooklyn” and “Nora Webster,” are not the external movements of a plot but the intimacy and accuracy of the portrait.

“Long Island” is a busier book than its predecessors, more exciting in some ways but in others less satisfying. There is more plot — more incidents and coincidences, more twists and revelations — and less Eilis. Her point of view alternates with Jim’s and Nancy’s, which heightens the drama but also feels like something of a betrayal. Like the busybodies of Enniscorthy, we are preoccupied with what Eilis will do next — no spoilers here — and less attentive to who she is. This exquisitely drawn, idiosyncratic soul turns out to be just another character in a novel after all.

LONG ISLAND | By Colm Tóibín | Scribner | 294 pp. | $28

A.O. Scott is a critic at large for The Times’s Book Review, writing about literature and ideas. He joined The Times in 2000 and was a film critic until early 2023. More about A.O. Scott

Explore More in Books

Want to know about the best books to read and the latest news start here..

The complicated, generous life  of Paul Auster, who died on April 30 , yielded a body of work of staggering scope and variety .

“Real Americans,” a new novel by Rachel Khong , follows three generations of Chinese Americans as they all fight for self-determination in their own way .

“The Chocolate War,” published 50 years ago, became one of the most challenged books in the United States. Its author, Robert Cormier, spent years fighting attempts to ban it .

Joan Didion’s distinctive prose and sharp eye were tuned to an outsider’s frequency, telling us about ourselves in essays that are almost reflexively skeptical. Here are her essential works .

Each week, top authors and critics join the Book Review’s podcast to talk about the latest news in the literary world. Listen here .

best fiction book quotes

That Old Back Magic: 9 Must-Read Historical Fantasy Books

' src=

Liberty Hardy

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

View All posts by Liberty Hardy

best fiction book quotes

Set in the Spanish Golden Age, during a time of high‑stakes political intrigue and glittering wealth, The Familiar follows Luzia, a servant in the household of an impoverished Spanish nobleman, who reveals a talent for little miracles. Her social‑climbing mistress demands Luzia use her gifts to win over Madrid’s most powerful players, but what begins as simple amusement takes a dangerous turn. Luzia will need to use every bit of her wit and will to survive — even the help of Guillén Santángel, an immortal familiar whose own secrets could prove deadly for them both. The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo is on sale now.

We as humans tend to romanticize the past, but these books fantasize the past by giving history speculative elements! Who doesn’t wish the past had more magic? Or at least more dragons. Er, any dragons, really. (Do dinosaurs count as kinda-dragons?) After all, a lot more people from centuries ago believed in magic and supernatural creatures than we do today. (Silly science, ruining all our fun.) But it’s still exciting to imagine these things were possible. So why not add a little extra something to stories from days of yore? Give history the old razzle dazzle and add a touch of magic to your historical fiction reading with this list of nine must-read historical fantasy books!

In these pages, you’ll find women spontaneously turning into dragons and getting the heck out of Dodge; a sister searching for her brother lost on the battlefield (who may have had a little supernatural help); fox gods at the turn of the 20th-century in Manchuria; a boy with an unusual talent in Singapore during the Japanese invasion; a fantastical reimagining of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor; and more! Whether you’re looking to add magic to your reading life, or you just love good books, there’s something here for everyone!

cover of The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden; illustration of hands holding a rose

The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden

This is an amazing novel of literal and figurative hauntings set during World War I. After field nurse Laura Iven was wounded in action, she is sent home to Halifax. But shortly after, she loses her parents in the munitions explosion and receives a strange package indicating her brother Freddie has died in battle. With no date of death, explanation, or a body, Laura holds out hope that the missive is incorrect and returns to Belgium to look for Freddie. Meanwhile, the book goes back in time in alternating chapters to show readers what happened to Freddie on the battlefield, some of which involve a mysterious figure he meets. Even with the speculative elements, it’s one of the most harrowing, powerful portrayals of war in fiction in recent years.

cover of When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill; illustration of green foliage with purple flowers and the hint of a dragon

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

Barnhill’s first novel for adults is a fun feminist fantasy! In 1955, in what is now called the Mass Dragoning, hundreds of thousands of women turned into dragons. As in scaly, fire-breathing, flying dragons. Then they took off, because, hello, they’re dragons now and can fly. But, the dragon women left behind a lot of loved ones and a lot of questions. Why did it happen? Why didn’t all women turn into dragons? And, young Alex wants to know, why aren’t they allowed to talk about what happened?

cover of The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo; illustration of an Asian woman in red walking on the snowy banks by a river. Her reflection in the water is a white fox.

The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo

And this is a fantastical mystery, set in Manchuria in the early 1900s. When a woman is found frozen outside, it is said she may have been lured by a fox god, who has the ability to change into a beautiful human. Bao is the detective charged with discovering the woman’s identity, which is intriguing for him because the case also involves his fascination with the fox gods. Meanwhile, Snow is a mother bent on revenge, chasing a murderer, and soon, Bao will be following in her footsteps. And all the while, the world of mortals and spirits weaves in and out of their stories. It’s a quietly beautiful mystery that pulls from mythology and history.

cover of The Conductors ; illustration of a young Black woman in old-fashioned dress holding a lantern

The Conductors by Nicole Glover

In a world where magic is real, Hetty and her husband are conductors for the Underground Railroad, using their abilities to help enslaved people to freedom. After the Civil War, they wind up in Philadelphia, working as detectives to help solve cases for Black people that the white police ignore. When an old friend is found dead, the unusual case will uncover old secrets and new dangers that could cost them their lives.

cover of The Great Reclamation by Rachel Heng; painting of blue waves crashing on rocks

The Great Reclamation by Rachel Heng

Heng has taken a period of history and added a dash of magic in this sad, lovely story of family, war, and love. Ah Boon has grown up in Singapore in the time of British rule, and has been in love with his neighbor Siok Mei for years. He is not interested in being a fisherman like the other men in his village, but he does have a unique gift for finding and moving islands. (What, you can’t do that?) When the Japanese army invades and occupies their village, Ah Boon and Siok Mei will have to make hard choices about their future and their family, before all is lost.

cover of The Sun and the Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz; illustration of jungle foliage, antlers, and cheetahs

The Sun and the Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz

Two women are on a collision course with magic and danger in this exciting debut fantasy inspired by the history and stories of colonial South America! Eva wants nothing more than to be accepted by her family, but, being an “illegitimate” child, she is an outcast. Her secret doesn’t help matters: Eva has magic in her — magic she can’t use, under punishment of death. Reina is a young woman who is almost killed in an attack until she is saved by her grandmother, a dark sorceress. But to keep her life, Reina must do her grandmother’s bidding, no matter the cost. Even if it involves ancient gods.

Book cover of She Who Became the Sun: Radiant Emperor by Shelley Parker-Chan; yellow with an orange sun and the outline of many soldier on horses at the bottom

She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor Duology) by Shelley Parker-Chan

The Ming Dynasty, but make it speculative! In 14th-century China, it is said a young boy named Zhu is destined for greatness. Unfortunately, he dies, leaving behind his sister. Refusing to believe it is her destiny to be a quiet, servile woman, she takes her brother’s destiny as her own, disguising herself as a boy and joining a monastery. As this new Zhu grows, she learns the ways of the harsh, unforgiving world, and decides she wants to take as much of the future for herself as she can, eventually rising up to be a great leader.

cover of The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope AOC; illustration of the profile of a black woman wearing a blue hat with a pink ribbon and flower, in front of green plants

The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope

And how about a Jazz Age heist novel, with a side of spirits? Magic almost always comes with a cost. Clara can talk to ghosts, but in return, she is indebted to them. But then a spirit gives her a chance to get out of her obligation. All she has to do is steal a magic ring from the richest woman in the city. A little breaking and entering — easy, right? To pull off the robbery, Clara calls on other friends with unusual abilities. But, as they get their plans together, it turns out that the trickster spirit may not have been very forthcoming with all the details of the job. And the threats growing in the real world have Clara and her friends rushing to find a solution.

cover of Ours by Phillip B. Williams; paiting of two young Black people, one in a pink jacket and one in a blue jacket

Ours by Phillip B. Williams

And, last but not least, this amazing speculative novel of history and sanctuary. In the 1830s, just outside St. Louis is a town called Ours. But it’s not on any map, and outsiders can’t find it. It’s a town specifically created by a conjuror named Saint, who rescues enslaved people and hides them away in Ours. But as the years go by, Saint’s powers start to wane, making the special town vulnerable to the outside world that Saint wanted to keep out, as well as powerful people with motives of their own. Can the sanctuary be saved? Or was it too good to be true? Ours is a fantastical reimagining of American history, a magical epic infused with imagination and pain and joy.

If you want to learn about more great fantasy and/or historical fiction books, check out New Historical Fiction for Your Book Club , 10 of the Best Historical Fiction Books About Books , and 12 Perfect Dragon Books to Read During the Year of the Dragon . And be sure to sign up for our nonfiction newsletter, True Story , our SFF newsletter, Swords and Spaceships , and listen to our SFF podcast, SFF Yeah !

Finally, you can also find a full list of new releases in the magical New Release Index , carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date.

best fiction book quotes

You Might Also Like

10 of the Best Spy Novels to Keep You Turning the Pages


  1. 20 Best Book Quotes

    best fiction book quotes

  2. Best Book Quotes, Love Quotes from Book, Sci Fi Book Quotes and More

    best fiction book quotes


    best fiction book quotes


    best fiction book quotes

  5. 70+ Beautiful And Profound Quotes From Sci-Fi Books

    best fiction book quotes

  6. Inspirational Quotes from Fantasy Books

    best fiction book quotes


  1. Book Awards for 2023

  2. A Book Full Of Love❤️And Lots Of Twist And Turns 🤫💫|| Part B- Ch

  3. A Book Full Of Love❤️And Lots Of Twist And Turns 🤫💫|| Part 1- Ch- 7&8 . ||Audiobook

  4. Stop Saying WashCLOTH!!! Episode 13 w/ Kate Danley

  5. 92 Inspiring Personal Finance Quotes for Financial Success

  6. AUTHOR CHAT w/ Dani Shapiro


  1. Fiction Quotes (5992 quotes)

    Fiction Quotes. Quotes tagged as "fiction" Showing 1-30 of 6,000. "You can't force love, I realized. It's there or it isn't. If it's not there, you've got to be able to admit it. If it is there, you've got to do whatever it takes to protect the ones you love.". ― Richelle Mead, Frostbite.

  2. The 22 Best Book Quotes and the Books They Come From

    The 22 best book quotes of all time: "Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all." "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.29. "Beloved" is a Pultizer Prize ...

  3. Best Book Quotes: 105 of the Most Famous

    Seems to me we don't never come to nothin'. Always on the way.". — John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath. 17. "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.". — Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights. 18. "There are years that ask questions and years that answer.".

  4. 50 of the Best Book Quotes of All Time

    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 ...

  5. 100 Most Famous Book Quotes of All Time

    My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches. _ William Goldman, The Princess Bride. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain't no matter. _ Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

  6. 50 most inspiring literature quotes of all time

    41. We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy. - J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. A hand-lettered artwork by Simple Serene is available on posters, travel mugs, iPhone skins, and wall clocks, among others. ⇢ Amazon Handmade.

  7. The 45 most powerful literary quotes of all time

    16. The Children Of Men. Author: P.D. James. Year: 1992. "We can experience nothing but the present moment, live in no other second of time, and to understand this is as close as we can get to eternal life.". 17. Invisible Man. Author: Ralph Ellison. Year: 1952.

  8. Unlocking Wisdom: 100 Famous Book Quotes That Resonate Through Time

    IntroductionWords have the power to transcend time, and the quotes within books often serve as beacons of enlightenment. This compilation brings together 100 such quotes that have resonated with readers worldwide, offering timeless insights into the human experience.1. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." - Jane ...

  9. 100 Best Book Quotes of All Time

    Leo Tolstoy. "Not all those who wander are lost.". J.R.R. Tolkien. "So many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible.". Norton Juster. "You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.". Natalie Babbitt. "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.". J.K. Rowling.

  10. 20 Most Powerful Book Quotes of All Time

    1. "Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life." — Jack Kerouac, On The Road. 2. "Life is to be lived, not controlled; and ...

  11. 25 Of The Best Book Quotes Of All Time

    As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.". 'Passing' by Nella Larsen. Harriett's Bookshop. $14. See On Harriett's Bookshop. " [S]he hadn't the air of a ...

  12. 70 Best Book Quotes That'll Inspire You

    1. "To be or not to be, that is the question.". - William Shakespeare, Hamlet. 2. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.". - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. 3. "The truth is rarely pure and never simple.".

  13. 22 Iconic Quotes from Famous Books

    Best Quotes From Books You Love. Literature has always been a treasure trove of meaningful and timeless quotes that apply to practically everything. These iconic strings of words are nuggets of gold swimming in a sea of silver text. From new or old, fiction or non-fiction, below are some of the best quotes you'll read from the books you love. 1.

  14. On Fiction Quotes (77 quotes)

    On Fiction Quotes. "Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.". "Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.". "That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.". "Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie.

  15. Books Quotes (10115 quotes)

    Books Quotes. "So many books, so little time.". "A room without books is like a body without a soul.". "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.". "Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.".

  16. Science Fiction Quotes (4575 quotes)

    Science Fiction Quotes. Quotes tagged as "science-fiction" Showing 1-30 of 4,575. "I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.". ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You.

  17. 170 Writing Quotes by Famous Authors for Every Occasion

    1. "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.". — Stephen King. 2. "You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.".

  18. 15 Of The Most Beautiful Quotes From Science Fiction Novels

    9. "Know yourself. You are worth knowing. Examine your life. The unexamined life is not worth living. Be aware that other people have equal significance. Give them the space to make their own ...

  19. The 194 Best Quotes about fiction

    #2: "Fiction here is likely to contain more truth than fact. Therefore I propose, making use of all the liberties and licenses of a novelist, to tell you the story of the two days that preceded my coming here." #3: "But I opened my mind and came to appreciate that even in fiction there can be morsels of truth."

  20. 30 Short Inspirational Quotes from Books

    The moon understands what it means to be human.". "The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.". "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.". "When you can't find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.". "She decided long ago that life was a long journey.

  21. The 18 Best Quotes about fiction book

    stealthily. View All Quotes. #2: "The novel is set in Britain and written for a British child, although that should not deter a resourceful reader. There are maps to help with locations." #3: "Fritz had had to stop himself or interrupting when Karl spoke about the difficulty of working. Stories are just as hard as clocks to put together ...

  22. Fantasy Fiction Quotes (1036 quotes)

    Quotes tagged as "fantasy-fiction" Showing 1-30 of 1,036. "One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again.". ― C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia. tags: fantasy-fiction. 535 likes. Like. "When people dis fantasy—mainstream readers and SF readers alike—they are almost always talking about one sub-genre of ...

  23. 60 Quotes About Reading That'll Inspire You

    Ernest Hemingway. "Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them."―. Lemony Snicket. "The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.". ― René Descartes. "A room without books is like a body without a soul.". ― Cicero.

  24. YA Book Quotes For Every Mood, Situation, and Experience

    But there is a whole world of YA book quotes out there, and even for readers who aren't familiar with YA fiction, these YA book quotes will inspire, encourage, and motivate you to live your best life. All of these quotes are from YA books, rather than quotes from speeches, essays, or other non-book outlets by young adult authors.

  25. 42 Inspiring Quotes from Fictional Characters

    You're not alone. I quote fictional scholars all the time. And while my colleagues would probably appreciate it if I didn't quote entire scenes from Friends as frequently as I do in important meetings, sometimes a quote from Dumbledore is all you need to get through the rest of a long work week. Thankfully, our friends at pulled together the infographic below.

  26. 'Getting a book idea feels like a buzz in the head': Paul Auster

    The author of The New York Trilogy, Leviathan and 4 3 2 1 has died at the age of 77. Here are some of the most memorable quotes from interviews he gave throughout his life

  27. 100 Books Everyone Should Read

    A winner of the National Book Award for fiction, Ralph Ellison's first novel, Invisible Man, spent an admirable 16 weeks atop the New York Times best-seller list. Its early success is due in ...

  28. Best Fiction 2022

    WINNER 90,971 votes. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. by. Gabrielle Zevin (Goodreads Author) Author Gabrielle Zevin brought a new kind of love story into the world with her universally admired novel about life, love, fame, failure, and video game design. Tomorrow was also selected as Amazon Books Editors' book of the year and it's going ...

  29. Book Review: 'Long Island,' by Colm Tóibín

    This exquisitely drawn, idiosyncratic soul turns out to be just another character in a novel after all. LONG ISLAND | By Colm Tóibín | Scribner | 294 pp. | $28. A.O. Scott is a critic at large ...

  30. That Old Back Magic: 9 Must-Read Historical Fantasy Books

    That Old Back Magic: 9 Must-Read Historical Fantasy Books. Liberty Hardy Apr 26, 2024. Flatiron Books, publisher of The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo. Set in the Spanish Golden Age, during a time of high‑stakes political intrigue and glittering wealth, The Familiar follows Luzia, a servant in the household of an impoverished Spanish nobleman, who ...