Books are important for the mind, heart, and soul. But don’t take it from us: These quotes about reading speak for themselves.

By Stefanie Hargreaves

The power to be found between the pages of a book is formidable, indeed. And these 50 inspiring quotes about books and reading are here to remind you of that. For, as author Anna Quindlen says, “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

“A word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood

“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.” – Carl Sagan

“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.” – Charles Baudelaire

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” – Maya Angelou

Reading by the Fire

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home. – Anna Quindlen

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.” – Kate DiCamillo

“I think books are like people, in the sense that they’ll turn up in your life when you most need them.” – Emma Thompson

“It wasn’t until I started reading and found books they wouldn’t let us read in school that I discovered you could be insane and happy and have a good life without being like everybody else.” – John Waters

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

“Books are mirrors: You only see in them what you already have inside you.” – Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Read before you think

Think before you speak. Read before you think. – Fran Lebowitz

“Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.” – Lena Dunham

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” – J.K. Rowling

“I can feel infinitely alive curled up on the sofa reading a book.” – Benedict Cumberbatch

“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

reading in a window

Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book. – E.B. White

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: They feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.” – Anne Lamott

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” – Joan Didion

“Books and doors are the same thing. You open them, and you go through into another world.” – Jeanette Winterson

“A good [short story] would take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.” – David Sedaris

“Books are, let’s face it, better than everything else. If we played Cultural Fantasy Boxing League, and made books go fifteen rounds in the ring against the best that any other art form had to offer, then books would win pretty much every time.” – Nick Hornby

reading with cat

We read to know we are not alone. – C.S. Lewis

“As you read a book word by word and page by page, you participate in its creation, just as a cellist playing a Bach suite participates, note by note, in the creation, the coming-to-be, the existence, of the music. And, as you read and re-read, the book of course participates in the creation of you, your thoughts and feelings, the size and temper of your soul.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

“It is really hard to be lonely very long in a world of words. Even if you don’t have friends somewhere, you still have language, and it will find you and wrap its little syllables around you and suddenly there will be a story to live in.” – Naomi Shihab Nye

“Read a lot. Expect something big, something exalting or deepening from a book. No book is worth reading that isn’t worth re-reading.” – Susan Sontag

“Have books ‘happened’ to you? Unless your answer to that question is ‘yes,’ I’m unsure how to talk to you.” – Haruki Murakami

“A story can always break into pieces while it sits inside a book on a shelf; and, decades after we have read it even twenty times, it can open us up, by cut or caress, to a new truth.” – Andre Dubus

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass

“Literature is the safe and traditional vehicle through which we learn about the world and pass on values from one generation to the next. Books save lives.” – Laurie Anderson

“Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps.” – Ann Patchett

“Both reading and writing are experiences – lifelong – in the course of which we who encounter words used in certain ways are persuaded by them to be brought mind and heart within the presence, the power, of the imagination.” – Eudora Welty

love to read

A room without books is like a body without a soul. – Cicero

“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” – Rene Descartes

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.” – Jhumpa Lahiri

“I love the way that each book — any book — is its own journey. You open it, and off you go…” – Sharon Creech

“Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.” – Malorie Blackman

“Reading is a form of prayer, a guided meditation that briefly makes us believe we’re someone else, disrupting the delusion that we’re permanent and at the center of the universe. Suddenly (we’re saved!) other people are real again, and we’re fond of them.” – George Saunders

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” – William Styron

“I guess a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves.” – David Foster Wallace

“Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real.” – Nora Ephron

“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” – Jean Rhys

“Salvation is certainly among the reasons I read. Reading and writing have always pulled me out of the darkest experiences in my life. Stories have given me a place in which to lose myself. They have allowed me to remember. They have allowed me to forget. They have allowed me to imagine different endings and better possible worlds.” – Roxane Gay

“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.” – James Baldwin

When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue, you give him the possibility of a whole new world. – Christopher Marley

“Reading is important. If you know how to read, then the whole world opens up to you.” – Barack Obama

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: We need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.” – Philip Pullman

“Books may well be the only true magic.” – Alice Hoffman

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