12 Toni Morrison Quotes To Inspire You

Friday marks Beloved author Toni Morrison's 85th birthday. She is the woman behind 11 best-selling novels, including 2015's God Help the Child. Morrison has also co-written several children's books with her son, Slade.

Morrison is one of the most decorated writers of our time. Her 1987 novel, Beloved, brought home the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award. In 1993, Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature. She is also a recipient of the National Humanities Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Such a wide and awards-heavy body of work is bound to be full of inspirational quotes. Although Morrison's work often focuses on the kind of bleakness that most of us try to sweep under the rug, her novels are full of uplifting moments and self-made characters.

If you need a little something to help you stay strong today, I've got 12 powerful quotes for you below. And those of you unfamiliar with Morrison's work can use these quotes as a guide to selecting one of her books to read. They're all spectacular, of course. Also, be sure to share your quote recommendations on Twitter.

Happy birthday, Toni Morrison. Thank you for Jazz, Beloved, and all your other wonderful books.

1. "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

—Toni Morrison, from an unknown speech

2. "Whatever happens, whether you get rich or stay poor, ruin your health or live to old age, you always end up back where you started: hungry for the one thing everybody loses — young loving."

—Toni Morrison, Jazz

3. "Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another."

—Toni Morrison, Beloved

4. "How can I take crime shows seriously where the female detectives track killers in Louboutin heels?"

—Bride, God Help the Child

5. "Definitions belonged to the definers — not the defined."

—Toni Morrison, Beloved

6. "You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down."

—Guitar, Song of Solomon

7. "I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself."

—Sula, Sula

8. "You don't have to love me but you damn well have to respect me."

—Bride, God Help the Child

9. "Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye."

—Claudia, The Bluest Eye

10. "You got a life? Live it! Live the motherfuckin life!"

—Guitar, Song of Solomon

11. "What you do to children matters. And they might never forget."

—Sweetness, God Help the Child

12. "Like an artist with no art form, she became dangerous."

—Toni Morrison, Sula

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