When I read a great book, I might forget a minor character's name or the year it was published, but I never forget my favorite passages. The best book quotes are like that — they stay with you long after you've finished the book, and they often pop into your head at unexplained moments. Not to mention, they cover the walls of your bedroom, fronts of your tote bags, and they're quite possibly even the words inscribed on your body somewhere. I get it, book quotes can be pretty incredible.
For me, the best book quotes of all time are the ones that are there for me when I need them, whether it's the happiest day of my life or the hardest one. They're words of advice or inspiration, bits of rare beauty, or even raw moments of pain that are so perfectly expressed, they become unforgettable. They can be intimate expressions of love or brutal confessions of the truth, the perfect scene painted in with words, or the deepest emotion rendered in a sentence. From children's books to literary fiction to nonfiction, every genre is filled with great book quotes that strike a chord in your heart and just stick with you.
Here are 25 of the greatest book quotes of all time, and although every book has at least a line or two worth remembering, these ones top the rest.
1. “It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
2. “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
3. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
4. “Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.”
― Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies
5. “And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
6. "Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."
— Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
7. “He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
8. “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
— John Green, The Fault In Our Stars
9. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
10. "I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am."
— Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
11. “You call yourself a free spirit, a 'wild thing,' and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”
― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's
12. “It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”
— Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
13. “Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
14. “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!
15. “Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.”
— William Goldman, The Princess Bride
16. “There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship's, smooths and contains the rocker. It's an inside kind — wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one's own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.”
― Toni Morrison, Beloved
17. “Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
18. “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
—J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
19. “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
— Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption