Book Quotes

Ten Great Quotes from Ten Great Books

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt from The Broke and the Bookish is Ten Inspiring Quotes. I’m not sure how inspiring they are, but I know they’re all great. I had to hold myself back from making this a list of quotes from Tiny Beautiful Things and When Women Were Birds, but I managed. Barely.

“If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah


“I realize that school and education don’t go hand in hand, that school and education can be as distant or as close as sex and love.”
M.K. Asante, Buck: A Memoir


woman upstairs
“Don’t all women feel the same? The only difference is how much we know we feel it, how in touch we are with our fury. We’re all furies, except the ones who are too damned foolish, and my worry now is that we’re brainwashing them from the cradle, and in the end even the ones who are smart will be too damned foolish.”
Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs


the son
“I found I had a choice between being liked and having a say. That’s the choice you’ll have to make as well. They will either love you and not respect you, or they will respect you and not love you.”
Philipp Meyer, The Son


dept. of speculation
“Some women make it look so easy, the way they cast ambition off like an expensive coat that no longer fits.”
― Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation


“You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine.”
Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety


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“The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And ‘if your Nerve, deny you –,’ as Emily Dickinson wrote, ‘go above your Nerve.’ Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”
Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar


“Why does that obstinate little voice in our heads torment us so? Could it be because it reminds us that we are alive, of our mortality, of our individual souls–which, after all, we are too afraid to surrender but yet make us feel more miserable than any other thing? It is a terrible thing to learn as a child that one is a being separate from the world, that no one and no thing hurts along with one’s burned tongues and skinned knees, that one’s aches and pains are all one’s own. Even more terrible, as we grow older, to learn that no person, no matter how beloved, can ever truly understand us. Our own selves make us most unhappy, and that’s why we’re so anxious to lose them, don’t you think?”
Donna Tartt, The Secret History


“And so we polish our own lives, creating landscapes and canyons and peaks with the very silt we try to avoid, the dirt we disavow or hide or deny. It is the dirt of our lives—the depressions, the losses, the inequities, the failing grades in trigonometry, the e-mails sent in fear or hate or haste, the ways in which we encounter people different from us—that shape us, polish us to a heady sheen, make us in fact more beautiful, more elemental, more artful and lasting.”
Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice


“She recognized that that is how friendships begin: one person reveals a moment of strangeness, and the other person decides just to listen and not exploit it.”
Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings


What are some of your favorite quotes from your favorite books?


  • So many good ones! I love the Wolitzer one.

  • Awesome list of quotes! I especially love the quotes from Crossing to Safety and The Secret History–I really need to read those two! :)

  • Cracking list of quotes!

  • Kay

    I’m so enjoying reading the quotes that others have shared. Love this topic, even though I think it was hard to make selections. I love the Stegner quote. And really all of them. :-)

  • Love the Dept. of Speculation quote!

  • Books on the Table

    “Inspiring” can mean a lot of things, can’t it? I love your choices, especially the one from Crossing to Safety. I thought this was the best Top 10 Tuesday prompt ever!

  • Words for Worms

    Dangit, Cheryl Strayed is just so dang QUOTABLE. I looooooooooooove that quote.

  • I think I could read quotes all day…

  • Nice! This list just reminded me that I need to pick up a copy of When Women Were Birds finally and read it!

  • JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

    Excellent quotes from a few of my favorite books!

  • These are all great but I really love the Meg Wolitzer . That’s so perfect!

  • All so wonderful. The Son, The Secret History and Americanah in particular hit home right now.

  • Oh wow – I need to read Dept of Speculation. That quote says absolutely everything in just a few perfect words. Love the Wolitzer one too :)

  • Jennine G.

    Love these! There’s nothing so great as a really relevant quote.

  • Amy Brandon

    “Sometimes people just want to feel heard.” Love that. I’m reading Purple Hibiscus right now and plan to move on to her other books.

  • Belle Sarff

    Cripes all mighty! So many quotes here that stir me in such a way that I feel like I must read every one of these books. Where am I going to find the time to read all the wonderous books in this world?!?

  • Wow. These are all so beautiful. Now i want to grab each book and see what the rest of the prose is like.

  • Oh, my gosh! These are great ones, Shannon! I especially love the one from Dept. of Speculation, only making me want to read it even more – ha!

  • That last quote from The Interestings is so great! I read that book in kind of a blur and missed some great lines like that.

  • I looove all of these! The Dear Sugar quote, especially, always gives me chills.

  • Ohhh my god, these are all so good. I really have to read The Interestings and The Woman Upstairs.

  • AnnabelSmith

    Oh, some lovely ones here! Even though I didn’t really like The Secret History, I think my attitude has softened to Tartt after reading and loving The Goldfinch, and that quote you chose really rung true. I also love the one from The Interestings – so astute.

  • ThomasHogglestock

    I love the Wolitzer quote. I read the book but I would never have remembered that quote. I must admit I read this post with trepidation. I really don’t like all the folks on Twitter whose main purpose in life is to quote authors. I find it especially trying when they quote authors that I doubt they have read. It isn’t that I know for sure that they haven’t read those authors, it’s just that if they had May Sarton and Anita Brookner would be two of the most read authors of all time given the number of times they are quoted on Twitter.