Top Ten Tuesday: Inspiring Quotes from Books

Top Ten Tuesday badge ( week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, as set forth by the crew at The Broke and the Bookish, is “inspiring quotes from books.”

I love this prompt! I keep a notebook of handwritten quotes from books I read, and it was so much fun to go through it to find some quotes for this post.

After considering various possible themes, I finally settled on books and reading (surprise!). These quotes inspire me because they’re like glimpsing amorphous bits of myself — things I can relate to but have never really articulated — translated into verbal form. To see them appear as the product of someone else’s thoughts — whether in fiction or nonfiction — reminds me that I’m not the only crazy book lover out there who feels this way!

#1: From The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

“[A]ll the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal…with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.”

#2: From Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

“Do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.”

#3: From Are You Somebody? by Nuala O’Faolain

“In any case, I would prefer to read something I don’t enjoy than do almost anything else. I like the act of reading in itself. Following the lines of something — not just the story but the rhythm, the tone, the feel of what has accumulated from before and what is beginning to impend — becoming surefooted on the high-wire of the author’s intention.”

#4: From The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

“Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the remembrance of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes — characters even — caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.”

#5: From The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

“At times Ren felt like he was reading fragments of his own dreams, reassembled into words that pulled at his heart, as if there were a string tied somewhere inside his chest that ran down into the book and attached itself to the characters, drawing him through the pages.”

#8: From I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

“She told me I should keep reading — that books were mirrors, reflective in sometimes unpredictable ways.”

#7: From The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

“As I have pointed out before, characters are not born like people, of woman; they are born of a situation, a sentence, a metaphor containing in a nutshell a basic human possibility that the author thinks no one else has discovered or said something essential about.”

#8: From Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith

“She loved books. She loved them with her senses and her intellect. The way they smelled and looked; the way they felt in her hands; the way the pages seemed to murmur as she turned them.”

#9 & 10: From The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac

“‘He was an echo chamber for all books, the physical incarnation of words, the book made human.'”

“Reading offers a kind of companionship that takes no one’s place, but that no one can replace either. It offers no definitive explanation of our destiny but links us inextricably to life. Its tiny secret links remind us of how paradoxically happy we are to be alive, while illuminating how tragically absurd life is. So our reasons for reading are as strange as our reasons for living. And no one has the right to call that intimacy into account.”

 Your Turn!

What’s your favorite quote about books and reading? Do any of these in particular resonate with you?

Join the Conversation


  1. Here’s a quote with a twist about a boy who is afraid of libraries. From SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, by Ray Bradbury:
    “All the books, he thought, perched there, hundreds of years old, peeling skin, leaning on each other like ten million vultures. Walk along the dark stacks and all the gold titles shine their eyes at you.”

    1. Aah! That’s so sad! What a horrible way to think of libraries!

      I read Something Wicked in high school, I think, and remember absolutely nothing about it. Now I’m curious to revisit it. I hope that poor boy comes around…

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