50 of the Best Book Quotes from Our Favorite Books
Reading does more than inform—it inspires. These insightful book quotes from beloved authors can give you a boost when you need it most.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.
Eskay Lim/Getty Images
Wisdom from the best book quotes
Books can teach us so many things. Sure, they can relay interesting facts and information—but some of the best pieces of literature also offer wisdom and inspirational quotes from their authors. In that way, certain books become friends we can consult throughout our lives for guidance and advice. Just think about the number of books you have on your bookshelf, or the number of book quotes you have in your journal, quotes you’re saving to reread at a later date.
Ahead, we’ve found the best book quotes from fiction books, nonfiction books and more. No matter which genres are your favorite—whether you consider yourself a history buff, a science-fiction nerd or a memoir fan—there are tons of books for readers of all ages that offer profound life-changing quotes, uplifting quotes, happy quotes and even funny quotes within their pages.
Get Reader’s Digest‘s Read Up newsletter for more inspiration, humor, cleaning, travel, tech and fun facts all week long.
Jazz by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s 1992 Jazz tells the story of Joe and Violet as they flee rural Virginia for Harlem in the 1920s. It leaves all the stereotypes of the Jazz Age behind and explores the reality of Black urban living during the Roaring ’20s. There’s murder, passion and romance gone wrong. Through each character’s backstory in this historical fiction book, the reader is also taken on a tour of the mid-1800s American South.
The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper
This is one of the best forgiveness quotes that will help you let go. A New York Times bestseller from 2021, The Beauty in Breaking is a stunning first memoir by Michele Harper, an African American emergency room physician navigating her way through a divorce and a high-stress career. Each chapter features a different scene from the ER or Harper’s personal life, with moving takeaways about how these encounters have influenced her.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This heart-wrenching 2018 novel tells the story of Celestial and Roy, a middle-class African-American couple whose lives are turned upside down after Roy is convicted of a rape he did not commit. The pair stays in touch through the twists and turns of Roy’s 12-year prison sentence—but can their marriage make it? Pick up a copy of this Oprah’s Book Club pick to find out, and reflect on the book’s family quotes that hit close to home, and might even make you reflect on your own closest familial ties.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Set in the early to mid-1900s and published in 1992, The Color Purple focuses on Celie, a poor Black woman in the Deep South whose letters to God and her sister tell the story of 20 years of her life. Those years range from her childhood with an abusive father to her marriage to an abusive man. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Color Purple is one of the classic books everyone should read at least once.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Life of Pi is a modern classic novel about Pi Patel, an Indian boy who survives 227 days in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck. While stranded, Pi must overcome his frightening situation by embarking on a spiritual journey alongside his physical one. With many inspiring book quotes, this 2001 Man Booker Prize winner offers bits of wisdom throughout. Its 2012 film version is also one of the greatest book-to-movie adaptations.
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
The first volume of Barack Obama’s presidential memoirs, A Promised Land made a splash when it was published in 2020, and it contains plenty of inspiring presidential quotes that will make you proud to be an American. The New York Times Book Review even called it one of the top 10 books of the year. In it, the former president takes a walk down memory lane, from his experience as a political hopeful to his time in the Oval Office. Obama reflects on his presidency—and all the challenges, shortfalls and behind-the-scenes moments that came with it—to create a stunning memoir that political aficionados and regular folks alike will adore.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
This coming-of-age love story, set in 1988 on the Italian Riviera, focuses on the passionate affair between Elio, a precocious teen staying at his parents’ cliffside villa, and Oliver, a summer visitor who’s assisting Elio’s father. The pair’s romance may only last six weeks, but their memories of it will last a lifetime. The 2007 novel is one of the best LGBTQ books to read right now.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The sequel to Margaret Atwood’s wildly popular The Handmaid’s Tale was one of the most anticipated new books when it came out in 2019. Picking up where its predecessor left off, The Testaments finds the Republic of Gilead, the totalitarian patriarchal theocracy where the series is set, in chaos. Who will fall and who will rise? Read this dystopian novel (and Booker Prize winner) to find out, and enjoy memorable book quotes like this one.
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
This is a book quote you might know best from the movie, even though the novel is one of the best fantasy books readers can’t put down. The first of three volumes of The Lord of the Rings, 1954’s The Fellowship of the Ring sets the scene for the entire series (although the prequel The Hobbit technically comes first). In Fellowship, a young hobbit is enlisted to make a treacherous journey across Middle-earth to destroy the One Ring That Rules Them All.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This could be one of the most powerful book quotes about life. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the 2013 novel The Goldfinch tells the story of Theo Decker, a young teen who survives a bombing that kills his mother at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. In the aftermath, Theo takes a painting called The Goldfinch from the museum. Although the painting reminds Theo of his beloved mother—and consoles him through his grief—it ultimately draws him into a criminal underworld that consumes his life.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This powerful love story and the 2013 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction is one of the best books for women written by female authors. Americanah tells the tale of teenage couple Ifemelu and Obinze as they depart military-ruled Nigeria but aren’t able to travel together. Ifemelu heads to America, while Obinze, who isn’t allowed to enter the States, goes to London. Years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria. But will their love prevail? Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tackles issues such as race and identity as she tells their story.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This post-apocalyptic 2014 book and National Book Award finalist hits close to home—in a way, it became one of the books that predicted the future. In Station Eleven, 99% of the human population is killed by the flu in just two weeks. The novel jumps back and forth in time from the post-pandemic world to the pre-pandemic world. It’s about finding a way to live in the now and the beauty of human relationships in the wake of devastation.
A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
From the author of Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle, A Man Without a Country is a 2005 essay collection by famed writer Kurt Vonnegut, who died in 2007. Full of profound book quotes, it covers topics ranging from Vonnegut’s issues with modern technology to his relationship with the arts and politics. Not to mention, it’s one of the best short books you can read in a day.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
The follow-up to Yaa Gyasi’s bestseller, Homegoing, 2020’s Transcendent Kingdom tells the story of a Ghanian family living in Alabama. The protagonist is Gifty, a neuroscience student at the Stanford School of Medicine studying addiction after her brother dies of a heroin overdose. Gifty grapples with her faith and science, and the depression, addiction, grief and loss that have plagued her family, in one of the books by Black authors you’ll want to know about.
Sissy by Jacob Tobia
LGBTQ activist Jacob Tobia’s humorous, heart-wrenching 2019 memoir is a true coming-of-gender story, and it contains many inspiring self-love quotes like this one. As a kid in North Carolina, Tobia was called “sissy” for the way they expressed their femininity. Throughout the memoir, which follows Tobia from grade school to Duke University and beyond, Tobia learns to embrace that term. There’s silliness and wit infused into every sentence, but that doesn’t distract from the book’s core message: Gender can be expressed in many different ways, and the things that make us unique are also the things that make us beautiful.
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
Clemantine Wamariya’s 2018 bestselling memoir begins with her picturesque childhood in Rwanda. However, everything changed when she was 6 years old and the Rwandan Civil War reached a fever pitch. In 1994, she and her sister fled Rwanda and spent six years traveling through seven African countries and refugee camps before being granted asylum in the United States. Her book recounts those horrifying years and the process of building a life after war.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Geobiologist Hope Jahren is an expert on trees, flowers, seeds and soil. And with her 2016 debut memoir, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography and contains some beautiful nature quotes, she proves she’s also an expert in storytelling. Lab Girl takes the reader back to Jahren’s childhood and discusses how she grew to find a “sanctuary in science.” She talks about the discoveries she’s made in the lab, as well as the friendships and memories she’s created while doing her work. Consider it a love letter to loving what you do.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
One of the best self-help books ever written, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now builds off a simple thesis: The present moment is the only time you ever have to change your life. The 1997 book appeals to the philosopher in each of us and shows readers how to lead a pain- and anxiety-free existence by living fully in the present. You’re going to want to have a highlighter handy when you read it.
RD.com, Getty Images
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This moving 2017 young adult novel, one of the highest rated books on Goodreads, tells the story of 16-year-old Starr, who witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend by a police officer. Starr must cope with her grief, as well as the reactions of her inner-city neighbors and private-school friends. Inspired by true events, the novel was made into a 2018 film of the same name.
Intimations by Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith wrote this short collection of essays, which was published in 2020, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. She discusses the topics that were on all our minds: How do we compare relative sufferings? What does it mean to enter a new reality? What is the relationship between time and work? It’s a timely collection that will surely be read and analyzed for decades to come.
Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Researcher Brené Brown’s TED Talk on vulnerability went viral—and her 2015 book, Rising Strong, includes just as many quotable moments and positive affirmations as her talk. In the book, Brown concludes that the only way to live a full life is by being vulnerable. And when you’re vulnerable, there are times you will be rejected. Rising Strong chronicles different couples, teachers, parents and leaders as they discuss the times they were brave, fell and got back up. It’s an inspiring read for any time you need extra courage.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
In this 1988 bestselling allegorical novel, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of treasure buried in the Pyramids. His journey includes mysterious characters, strange omens and tons of adventure. At its heart, The Alchemist is a story about self-discovery and following your dreams, and it contains some of the loveliest romantic quotes from books. This modern classic is a must for any bookshelf.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
After feeling unfulfilled by domestic life, author Elizabeth Gilbert heads off on the adventure of a lifetime: world travel. She seeks out pleasure in Italy, devotion in India and transcendence in Bali. The 2006 bestselling memoir, which contains tons of travel quotes to feed your wanderlust, has inspired countless women to embark on their own Eat, Pray, Love–style journeys. Those are chronicled in a second book, called Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars captivated thousands of young readers when it was released in 2012, and again when it was made into a film in 2014. Filled with some of the best quotes from young adult books, the novel tells the story of two teenage lovers, Hazel and Augustus, as they navigate their cancer treatments. Can love conquer all—even an incurable disease?
On My Own by Diane Rehm
In her 2016 memoir On My Own, public radio talk show host Diane Rehm discusses her husband’s death and how challenging it is to rebuild her life after he’s gone. She focuses on her own emotional and practical struggles, while also including the experiences of other recently widowed friends. The book shows that there is no one right way to grieve the loss of a spouse—the only thing you can expect is a massive upheaval in how you approach your own life. It also contains many loss quotes that heal the heart and lessen the grief.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
One of the best books for teens, this much-loved 1999 coming-of-age tale follows 15-year-old protagonist Charlie as he navigates his freshman year of high school. Shy and somewhat awkward, Charlie befriends two seniors, Patrick and Sam, who invite him into their friend group and show him the traditional high school experience. Together, the pals cope with different traumas such as sexual assault, domestic abuse and coming to terms with their sexuality. Just because it’s a young adult novel doesn’t mean older adults can’t find comfort in its words as well.
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle
This is one of those beauty quotes that celebrates the truly beautiful. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon Doyle finally had everything she could want: happy kids, a happy husband and a blossoming writing career. But after discovering her husband has been cheating on her, Doyle’s life is turned upside down. This 2016 memoir, a New York Times bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club selection, chronicles her and her husband’s decision to repair their relationship, as well as Doyle’s inner search for what makes her happy and fulfilled.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
In her 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou discusses growing up in the South in the 1930s. It’s a story about overcoming discrimination, poverty and countless other obstacles, and still finding hope and freedom in the end. Don’t want to put it down? There are six more volumes in Angelou’s autobiographical series for you to read next, with plenty more Maya Angelou quotes to uplift and inspire you.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and widely read in classrooms around the country—although unfortunately, also frequently the victim of book banning—To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated by 6-year-old Scout during the Great Depression in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama. The 1960 classic tells the story of Scout, her brother, Jem, and their father, lawyer Atticus Finch. Atticus is chosen to defend Tom Robinson, a Black man accused of raping a White woman. As the town erupts into chaos as the trial begins, the novel explores the South’s deeply rooted racism.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
In his 2016 memoir When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi tells the story of his life as a neurosurgeon and his battle with lung cancer. The book, which was published posthumously, includes some incredible takeaways about life and death, with life-changing quotes you won’t forget. What makes life worth living in the face of death? And how does one live a full life after a terrifying diagnosis? Kalanithi does his best to answer those impossible questions.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Another book penned by an accomplished surgeon, 2014’s Being Mortal details author Atul Gawande’s ideas about end-of-life and hospice care. In it, he outlines stories from his own patients and family, combined with eye-opening research about the good and bad ways the medical field deals with death. Are certain treatments worth it? Should doctors have more training in end-of-life care? What matters in those final days and moments? It’s one of the best book club books guaranteed to get everyone talking.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This 1943 novella, one of the best children’s books ever written, tells the story of a young prince who visits various planets in the solar system before landing on earth and sharing his observations about adults and human nature. The Little Prince, written by a French pilot who died during World War II, certainly has fantastical elements, but it’s a philosophical tale at heart—even though it sits in the children’s section of the bookstore.
What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey
In June 2000, Oprah Winfrey published the first issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. In it, and in every issue thereafter, she wrote a column called “What I Know for Sure,” which chronicled the different things she knew to be true. From the value of a warm “thank you” to the importance of reading, Winfrey covered everything—and this 2014 book is a compilation of those columns. It’s a book you’ll want to revisit often for its sage wisdom and advice from one of the most inspiring women alive today.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
Sure, it’s technically a children’s book that you can read in three minutes. But 1990’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! has a ton of children’s book quotes that will ring true for readers of all ages, and it’s now a popular graduation gift. The poem talks about overcoming hardships and achieving great things. Come for the rhyming book quotes, stay for the philosophical takeaways.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling 2012 memoir tells the story of her 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail after losing her mother and her marriage. With no experience or training, she hits the unforgiving trail alone and encounters everything from bears and rattlesnakes to unsavory hikers and hoards of frogs. Unsurprisingly, the book is full of striking insights about the natural world and what it means to be away from everything you know. It’s also one of the best mother-daughter books to read together.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
In 2015, All the Light We Cannot See, a novel set during World War II, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It follows the parallel lives of a blind French girl named Marie and a German orphan boy named Werner. Marie and her father flee Paris during the war while carrying a sought-after diamond. What will happen when these characters’ worlds collide? You’ll have to read this beautiful story to find out.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
A mysterious disappearance. A possible murder. A disorienting plot twist. Look no further than Gone Girl if you’re dying to read one of the best thriller books that will keep you on the edge of your seat. With deeper themes to its psychological mystery, the 2012 bestseller addresses the complexities of marriage and the resentment that can grow between two people who, to outsiders, seem as if they have it all together.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Ever wonder why humans are more likely to assume a good-looking person will be more competent? Or why we’re more likely to believe a fact if it’s written in a bold typeface? Nobel Prize in Economics winner Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow explores the science behind why we make the decisions we do, and why we have the thought processes we have.
But What If We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman
This quote is an interesting counterpoint to the traditional patriotic quotes we’ve heard before. And the title of this 2016 book perfectly encapsulates what it’s about: Author Cluck Klosterman muses on simple yet enormous questions. How certain are we about our understanding of gravity? How seriously should we view the content of our dreams? What will be the defining memory of rock music, 500 years from today? Is it possible that we “overrate” democracy? It’s a fascinating book that will inspire you to look at everything in a new light.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Have you ever wondered what makes successful people—like, really successful people—different? In this 2008 nonfiction bestseller containing tons of success quotes like this one, Malcolm Gladwell investigates the factors that separate the best and the brightest humans from the rest of us. Do they have specific character traits in common? Or do they share more specific details about their cultures, families and childhood experiences? Plus, how can the rest of us be more like them? You’ll have to pick up a copy to learn his conclusion.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
You’ve seen the movie—although, of course, the first rule is not to talk about it—but have you read the book? Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel Fight Club is a masterpiece of a tale that follows an anonymous narrator struggling with insomnia. When he meets a mysterious character named Tyler Durden and creates an underground fight club, his life changes forever.
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
This is one of those truth quotes that is humorously, brutally honest, and the rest of Sloane Crosley’s 2008 book of essays will likewise make you laugh out loud. In it, Crosley shares musings from her life as a 20-something in New York City. There are silly, self-deprecating anecdotes about her volunteer job at the Museum of Natural History, the weddings of distant friends and baking a cookie in the shape of her boss’s face. Yep, we told you you’d LOL.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Young lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isabel live a quiet life as the only inhabitants of Janus Rock, Australia. The couple is struggling to conceive when a boat with a dead man and a live baby washes ashore. Years later, the baby’s true story unfolds—but you won’t find any spoilers here. Expect to be asking yourself, “What would I have done?” a lot while reading this 2012 book.
Naked by David Sedaris
If humorist David Sedaris wrote it, then you know it’s going to be one of the funniest books of all time. This 1997 collection of personal essays includes glimpses into Sedaris’s childhood and adult life. Expect humorous pieces about his sister’s first period, his trip to a nudist colony, his mother’s diagnosis with cancer and more. It’s the story of a chaotic, dysfunctional family and making the most of what you have.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
A 2014 memoir by lawyer Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Rights Initiative, this winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction examines the inequality and racial bias at the core of the American criminal justice system. In particular, it tells the story of Walter McMillian, a man who was sentenced to die for a murder he said he didn’t commit. The case changed Stevenson’s views on justice and inspired him to embark on a decades-long career representing death-row prisoners.
The Road to Character by David Brooks
In this 2015 book, New York Times columnist David Brooks discusses how all our experiences—including our painful ones—ultimately build our character. Based on an undergraduate course he taught at Yale University on the topic of humility, the book differentiates between “resume virtues,” the ones you acquire throughout your career, and “eulogy virtues,” the ones that exist at the core of your being. The Road to Character is the perfect read for anyone looking to improve their deeper character, and to discover “moving on” quotes that can help you heal and persevere.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me won the 2015 National Book Award for nonfiction and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist—for good reason. The epistolary book, written as a letter to Coates’s adolescent son, is packed with inspiring and insightful words, touching on our nation’s history and current racial crisis, as well as Coates’s concerns for his son’s safety. Toni Morrison gave it the highest praise, saying: “I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly, it is Ta-Nehisi Coates.” It’s one of the books about racism everyone should read.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Actress and comedian Amy Poehler is best known for her work on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation. Her first book, 2014’s Yes Please, is full of essays, stories, lists, strong women quotes and mantras that are both silly and inspiring. Standout chapters include “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All.” You’ll soon agree that Poehler has a knack for writing funny quips that are also universal truths. The audio version, narrated by Poehler herself and others, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Romance, wealth and extravagant parties converge in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 Jazz Age novel The Great Gatsby. The book, set in the affluent Long Island village of West Egg and narrated by Nick Carraway, a young bond salesman, tells the story of Nick’s neighbor, the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, and his former lover, Nick’s cousin Daisy Buchanan. The book originally sold fewer than 25,000 copies; after Fitzgerald’s death, it became an international bestseller with multiple film adaptations. Today, it’s often considered the Great American Novel and one of the best books of all time.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
One of the best romance novels of all time, this bestseller feels straight out of a Hallmark movie marathon—in the best way possible. Published in 2012, Me Before You tells the story of Will Traynor, a successful banker who becomes depressed after being paralyzed in a motorcycle accident, and Lou, a bubbly woman hired as his caretaker. The two fall in love, and the rest, as they say, is history.