12 Women Share The Book Quotes That Changed Their Lives, Because Some Lines Just Stay With You Forever

I collect book quotes the way some people collect baseball cards or action figures or pairs of shoes (wait, I also collect shoes). There are quotes hanging on my wall in picture frames, scribbled on index cards and tucked into memo boards, and carefully catalogued in a Microsoft Word document on my computer. Yes, you read that right: I have a “Best Book Quotes” Word doc. I also arrange my shoe collection by color and texture — Monica Geller would be proud.

There’s something truly amazing about the fact that rearranging 26 letters can create inspiring, encouraging, and even life-changing phrases. From the cool bestseller you just read to the pages of a beloved childhood favorite you’re revisiting, books have so much to offer in the realm of developing how you think. Remember when you first read a quote that had an impact on you, and you felt that chill down your spine as you searched frantically for a highlighter so you would never forget the particular arrangement of the words on the page? And now you can remember that quote word for word, as well as what book it’s from, and exactly where the book is filed on your alphabetized bookshelf (wait, your bookshelf is alphabetized, too, right?)

I asked 12 women to share the quotes that changed them, and here's what they said:

Julie, 32

"I’m not a princess. I’m not a muse. If I’m going to change the world, it’s not going to be by endorsing a landmine charity in a tiara, or inspiring the next Revolver. Just “being” me isn’t enough. I’m going to have to do something, instead."

This was the fastest, funniest, clearest phrasing I'd ever heard of an idea that has come to mean a lot to me: be the bravest thing you can and be it for yourself.

Maddie, 22

"It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can't see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than to stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people. She will not be simple and sweet. She will not be what people tell her to be."

I just reread this book and realized I'd forgotten how much I loved it. Frankie definitely tops my list of favorite fictional characters.

Christie, 30

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will."

A beautiful quote that describes a woman's freedom within the bond of love between her and her man. It helped me to realize the individuality I still have as a married woman, and without that, I could not be so unified with my own husband.

Kelsey, 23

"I know it is a bad thing to break a promise, but I think now that it is a worse thing to let a promise break you."

This quote (and book) stuck with me a long time after I read it. This quote in particular made me think about promises and broken promises, and how we don't think like this anymore. A promise isn't always something sacred that can't be broken. It forced me to reevaluate what I've promised and if I meant them, and what it would mean to break those promises.

Rachel, 22

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

There are a lot of quotes from Harry Potter that I love, but this quote at the end of book seven has always been special to me. I've been a daydreamer ever since I was little, and between my love of reading, miscellaneous fangirling, and writing, I tend to spend a good portion of my time immersed in fictional realities. I love this quote because it was a reminder from a very wise character to not discount the importance of the intangible. Imagination, fiction, faith — all of those things that happen in our minds and hearts — are just as real and important as anything else.

Emmie, 21

"Because now, I didn't care what they thought. It wasn't new, this realization that I would never be like them. What was different now was that I was glad."

Amanda, 35

“After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die.”

Although many book quotes have changed my life in different ways, the one that first changed my life was this one from Charlotte's Web... I think I was like 7 or 8, and it had a profound effect on my wake-up call about mortality.

Sadie, 21

"You are beautiful, but you are empty... one could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looks just like you. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Because she is my rose."

My grandfather used to read me from Le Petit Prince, but this English translation of my favorite quote is just as good and has followed me all my life ... This quote did more than change how I conceptualized love; it taught me to listen to the people around me — especially when they're silent.

Taylor, 22

“... what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow.”

This entire book made such an impact on me because it was one of the first chapter books I read. The first time I didn't understand any of the puns. The second time was when I realized how much I loved this book. It will always hold a spot on my bookshelf. I love this quote because even as an adult it inspires me each day. Whenever I got anxious about what may happen in the future I would think about this quote and it helped me feel more prepared. When I was depressed this quote would help me get through each day.

Elle, 21

“Banks and churches and courtrooms all depend on the appurtenances of theatre. On illusion. Banks, the illusion of stability and honourable dealings to the rot and corruption of capitalist exploitation. Churches the illusion of sacred sanctuary of purposes of pacifying social discontent. Courtrooms of course designed to promote the illusion of solemn justice. If there was true justice why would such trappings be necessary? Wouldn't a table and chairs and an ordinary room serve just as well?”

I read The Book of Daniel in 11th grade when I was just starting to figure out who I was as a human and take note of how society is structured. This book forced me challenge and question this country, especially the justice system. This quote made me laugh when I initially read it because it is just so true!

Norah, 21

"We control the way we remember the past, and that’s what matters in the present. We choose what is worthy of our memory. We should probably be grateful that we can’t remember everything as God does, because if we did, we would find it impossible to forgive anyone. The limit of human memory encourages humility.”

I read this book last month and it really resonated with me. I pride myself in my strong memory abilities and often get upset when I can't recall a person or an event as clearly as I want to. This quote not only helped me come to terms with the inevitability of forgetting things, but also showed me that the act of remembering (like most of our behaviors) is a choice and we can choose what and how we remember things. This is a very powerful tool that I am now armed with.

Maddie, 22

“‘And what are you reading, Miss — ?’ ‘Oh! it is only a novel.’ replies the young lady; while she lays down her book with affected indifference , or momentary shame. — 'It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda;’ or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.”