Some days the world is just out to get you. You miss the bus, or you spill coffee on your new shirt, or your lover leaves you, or your government violates your civil liberties. We've all been there. That's why literature exits. Sure, not every book is going to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (looking at you, every Russian novelist). But books can help. Sometimes a simple line from a good book can make you feel just the tiniest bit better about all the rotten things going on in your life. So here are a few literary quotes to read when you're having a bad day.
Literature doesn't even need to be especially cheerful to make you feel a little bit better about yourself. As James Baldwin put it, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
So shake off that very bad, no good day you've had, fix yourself the hot or cold beverage of your choice, and enjoy some quotes that can cut through even the worst mood:
1. "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 you go..."
—Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!
2. "I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery―air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, 'This is what it is to be happy.'"
—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
3. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”
—L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
4. “Ride on! Rough-shod if need be, smooth-shod if that will do, but ride on! Ride on over all obstacles, and win the race!"
—Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
5. "I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship."
—Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
6. "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
—Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan
7. “Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud."
—Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
8. “To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”
―Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living
9. “There is always something left to love.”
―Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
10. “The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
―Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
11. “It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.”
―James Baldwin, Collected Essays
12. “There have been times, lately, when I dearly wished that I could change the past. Well, I can’t, but I can change the present, so that when it becomes the past it will turn out to be a past worth having.”
―Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight
13. “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
―Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young
14. “The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream.”
―Jack Kerouac, On the Road: The Original Scroll
15. “Laughter is poison to fear.”
―George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
16. “Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.”
―Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
17. “Everyone, at some point in their lives, wakes up in the middle of the night with the feeling that they are all alone in the world, and that nobody loves them now and that nobody will ever love them, and that they will never have a decent night's sleep again and will spend their lives wandering blearily around a loveless landscape, hoping desperately that their circumstances will improve, but suspecting, in their heart of hearts, that they will remain unloved forever. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to wake somebody else up, so that they can feel this way, too.”
―Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid
18. “Enjoy the elastic present, which can accommodate as little or as much as you want to put in there. Stretch it out, live inside of it.”
―Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
19. “Do your thing and don't care if they like it.”
―Tina Fey, Bossypants
20. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
―Neil Gaiman, Coraline
21. “All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
―Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho