Book quotes from the classics inspire readers of all ages. Authors and writers who have written som the most influential books throughout our history hold a special place in the pantheon of literature.
We all love a good read, whether it be a classic or a soon-to-be classic. Here are examples of book quotes from classics in literature written by the greatest authors in history.
Best Classic Book Quotes
1. There is one thing, Emma, which a man can always do if he chooses, and that is his duty, not by maneuvering and finessing, but by vigor and resolution.
Jane Austen, Emma
2. You can’t breathe dead hippo waking, sleeping, and eating, and at the same time keep your precarious grip on existence.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
3. I care not how humble your bookshelf may be or how lonely the room which it adorns. Close the door of that room behind you, shut off with it all the cares of the outer world, plunge back into the soothing company of the great dead, and then you are through the magic portal into that fair land whither worry and vexation can follow you no more.
You have left all that is vulgar and all that is sordid behind you. There stand your noble, silent comrades, waiting in their ranks. Pass your eye down their files. Choose your man. And then you have but to hold up your hand to him and away you go together into dreamland.
Arthur Conan Doyle, Through The Magic Door
Good Classic Book Quotes
4. Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.
William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
5. As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden
6. I see that my presence is burdensome to you. Painful as it was for me to become convinced of it, I see that it is so and cannot be otherwise. I do not blame you, and God is my witness that, seeing you during your illness, I resolved with all my soul to forget everything that had been between us and start a new life. I do not repent and will never repent of what I have done, but I desired one thing – your good, the good of your soul – and now I see that I have not achieved it. Tell me yourself what will give you true happiness and peace in your soul. I give myself over entirely to your will and your sense of justice.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Iconic Literature Excerpts
7. She felt as if she had stabbed her dearest friend, and when he left her without a look behind him, she knew that the boy Laurie never would come again.
Louisa May Alcott, Good Wives
8. Time, which sees all things, has found you out.
Sophocles, Oedipus the King
9. 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.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
10. If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colors suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colors become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire.
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Short Book Quotes
11. That is a compliment which gives me no pleasure.
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
12. The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
13. We dream in our waking moments, and walk in our sleep.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Powerful Insights From Classic Books
14. I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
15. Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.
I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
16. Don’t let politeness interfere with truth.
Jean Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs / Dear Enemy
Inspirational Book Quotes
17. Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.
Jean de La Bruyère , Les Caractères
18. Learning does not make one learned: there are those who have knowledge and those who have understanding. The first requires memory and the second philosophy.
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
19. There are many Beths in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping, and the sweet, sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind.
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Famous Sayings from Master Storytellers
20. At the moment when her eyes closed, when all feeling vanished in her, she thought that she felt a touch of fire imprinted on her lips, a kiss more burning than the red-hot iron of the executioner.
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
21. Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
22. Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
23. When the day becomes the night and the sky becomes the sea, when the clock strikes heavy and there’s no time for tea; and in our darkest hour, before my final rhyme, she will come back home to Wonderland and turn back the hands of time.
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Romantic Quotes for Classic Lovers
24. You are a wonderful creation. You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
25. No man knows till he experiences it, what it is like to feel his own life-blood drawn away into the woman he loves.
Bram Stoker, Dracula
Literature Quotes on Life
26. When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams – this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness – and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
27. The mind will ever be unstable that has only prejudices to rest on, and the current will run with destructive fury when there are no barriers to break its force.
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women
28. Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
29. On the Day of Judgment, life, and death are not determined by the world but by God’s wisdom and law.
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress
30. At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done—then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
31. Without music, life would be a mistake.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
Best Modern Date Book Quotes
32. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
33. The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream
Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
34. Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
35. The thing I realize is, that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.
Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places
36. There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
37. I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
37. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
Margery Williams, Velveteen Rabbit
38. Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.
Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
39. I want you to remember who you are, despite the bad things that are happening to you. Because those bad things aren’t you. They are just things that happen to you.
Colleen Hoover, Hopeless
40. Most of life is so dull that there is nothing to be said about it, and the books and talk that would describe it as interesting are obliged to exaggerate, in the hope of justifying their own existence.
E. M. Forster, A Passage to India
Short Modern Day Takes
41. I prefer unlucky things. Luck is vulgar. Who wants what luck would bring? I don’t.
D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love
42. That is the one unforgivable sin in any society. Be different and be damned!
Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
43. Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
44. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
Stephen King, Different Seasons
Right to the Point Sayings
45. The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
46. The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.
Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
47. Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.
Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea
48. It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.
André Gide, Autumn Leaves
49. You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love.
Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
50. Being alone has nothing to do with how many people are around.
Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road
51. I remembered everything. I remembered the cadavers and Doreen and the story of the fig tree and Marco’s diamond and the sailor on the Common and Doctor Gordon’s wall-eyed nurse and the broken thermometers and the Negro with his two kinds of beans and the twenty pounds I gained on insulin and the rock that bulged between sky and sea like a gray skull. Maybe forgetfulness, like a kind snow, would numb and cover them. But they were part of me. They were my landscape.
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
52. My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.
Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
53. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
George Orwell, 1984
54. You are your best thing.
Toni Morrison, Beloved
55. The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.
Jack Kerouac, On the Road
56. From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood.
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
57. And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
58. And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
59. You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
60. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.
Roald Dahl, The Witches
61. I wanted you to see what real courage is instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
62. Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.
Yann Martel, Life of Pi
63. To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
64. Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
65. The same substance composes us — the tree overhead, the stone beneath us, the bird, the beast, the star — we are all one, all moving to the same end.
P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins
66. You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.
Jojo Moyes, Me Before You
67. They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
68. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as is he were related to one thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the “creative temperament” – it was an extraordinary gift of hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
69. I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it. Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what is was all about.
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
70. They looked at each other, baffled, in love and hate.
William Golding, Lord of the Flies
71. As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly and then all at once.
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
72. Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.
Nicole Krauss, The History of Love
73. We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.
Robert Fulghum, True Love
74. Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do.
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
Quotes We Love
Here are some book quotes that we just can’t get enough of.
75. What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
76. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well — or ill?
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
77. He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.
Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
78. It was against my principles and all, but I was feeling so depressed I didn’t even think. That’s the whole trouble. When you’re feeling very depressed, you can’t even think.
J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
80. After all, tomorrow is another day!
Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
By Elle Johnson
Elle writes about literature, poetry, and quotations.
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