When you read a great book, you might forget a minor character's name or the year it was published, but you never forget your 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. They cover the walls of your bedroom, embellish the fronts of your tote bags, and they might even be inscribed on your body somewhere. To put it simply, book quotes can be pretty incredible.
The best book quotes of all time are the ones that are there for you when you need them, rain or shine. They're words of advice or inspiration, bits of rare beauty, or even raw moments of pain so perfectly expressed that 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.
Here are 25 of the greatest book quotes of all time:
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“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
“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.”
"It can be really exasperating to look back at your past. What’s the matter with you? I want to ask her, my younger self, shaking her shoulder. If I did that, she would probably cry. Maybe I would cry, too."
"A body could be labeled but a person couldn’t, and the difference between the two depended on that muscle in your chest. That beloved organ, not sentient, not aware, not feeling, just pumping along, keeping you alive."
"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will."
"That’s all anybody can do right now. Live. Hold out. Survive. I don’t know whether good times are coming back again. But I know that won’t matter if we don’t survive these times."
"We are never so poor that we cannot bless another human, are we?"
"Sometimes a person's unhappiness can make them forget they are a part of something bigger, something like a family, a people, even a tribe."
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
"But home isn't where you land; home is where you launch. You can't pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land."
"We're all under the same sky and walk the same earth; we're alive together during the same moment."
“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.”
"[S]he hadn't the air of a woman whose life had been touched by uncertainty or suffering. Pain, fear, and grief were things that left their mark on people. Even love, that exquisite torturing emotion, left its subtle traces on the countenance."
"It is a terrible thing, this kindness that human beings do not lose. Terrible, because when we are finally naked in the dark and cold, it is all we have. We who are so rich, so full of strength, we end up with that small change. We have nothing else to give."
“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.”
"The past is a black hole, cut into the present day like a wound, and if you come too close, you can get sucked in. You have to keep moving."
"I speak into the silence. I toss the stone of my story into a vast crevice; measure the emptiness by its small sound."
"The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?"
“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.”
"Sleep felt productive. Something was getting sorted out. I knew in my heart — this was, perhaps, the only thing my heart knew back then — that when I'd slept enough, I'd be okay. I'd be renewed, reborn. I would be a whole new person, every one of my cells regenerated enough times that the old cells were just distant, foggy memories. My past life would be but a dream, and I could start over without regrets, bolstered by the bliss and serenity that I would have accumulated in my year of rest and relaxation."
"I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am."
"Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn't know if she would ever find out where it was or become part of it."
"Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful."
"The only love Red knew was that simple, uncomplicated, lonely love one feels for oneself in the quiet moments of the day. It was there, steady and solid in the laughter and talk of the television and with her in the grocery aisles on the weekends. It was there every night, in the dark, spectacular and sprawling in the quiet. And it all belonged to her."
"Some people dislike diagnoses, disagreeably calling them, boxes and labels, but I've always found comfort in preexisting conditions; I like to know that I'm not pioneering an inexplicable experience."
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