80 Inspiring Quotes About Books and Reading

reading in bed

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 80 inspiring quotes about books and importance of reading are here to remind you of that. From beloved bestsellers to iconic celebrities, these quotes exemplify the benefits of reading and of a good books to comfort, challenge, and inspire you. 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

"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, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

"Books are mirrors: You only see in them what you already have inside you." – Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

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

"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, Bird by Bird

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." – Joan Didion, The White Album

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

"A good 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, The Polysyllabic Spree

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, I'll Ask You Three Times, Are You OK?: Tales of Driving and Being Driven

"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, Meditations from a Movable Chair

"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, The Namesake

"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, Bad Feminist

"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

"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, Magic Lessons

"Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know." – Alberto Manguel, A Reading Diary: A Passionate Reader's Reflections on a Year of Books

"A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation... A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on, you are enriched threefold." – Henry Miller, The Books in My Life

"Reading is an active, imaginative act; it takes work." – Khaled Hosseini

"It is known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else." – Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

"If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads." – François Mauriac

"To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life." – W. Somerset Maugham, Books And You

"I don't read a book; I hold a conversation with the author." – Elbert Hubbard

"Some books are so familiar that reading them is like being home again." – Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies... The man who never reads lives only one." – George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

"Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly." – Sir Francis Bacon

"Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul." – Joyce Carol Oates

"A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe." – Madeleine L'Engle

"Books have a unique way of stopping time in a particular moment and saying: Let's not forget this." – Dave Eggers

"Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times? As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells... and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like pressed flower... both strange and familiar." – Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

"The best books... are those that tell you what you know already." – George Orwell, 1984

"Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one's own self." – Franz Kafka

"Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author's words reverberating in your head." – Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies

"Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labelled 'This could change your life.'" – Helen Exley

"There are some books that reached through the noise of life to grab you by the collar and speak only of the truest things." – Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot

"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book." – John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

"The best moments in reading are when you come across something–a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things–which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours." – Alan Bennett, The History Boys

"Reading is essential for those who seek to rise about the ordinary." – Jim Rohn

"The story is truly finished–and meaning is made–not when the author adds the last period, but when the reader enters." – Celeste Ng

"One must always be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us." – Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." – Garrison Kellor

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." – Charles W. Eliot

"Books should go where they will be most appreciated, and not sit unread, gathering dust on a forgotten shelf, don't you agree?" – Christopher Paolini

"Once you've read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you." – Louis L'Amour

"The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us." – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

"That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive–all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment." – Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

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