45 Great Sourced Quotes about Books

The best quotes about books, from some of the most famous writers in the world

Here is a list of our favourite quotes about books from various writers, some famous, some not so famous. We’ve only included those quotations for which we’ve managed to track down a source, whether in print or online, so you know these are authentic quotes about books, rather than of the amusing-but-apocryphal kind.

When I was a child I read books far too old for me and sometimes far too young for me. Every reading child is different. Introduce them to the love of reading, show them the way to the library and let them get on with it. – Terry Pratchett, No to Age Banding Campaign

Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know. – John Keats, letter of August 28, 1819 to his sister Fanny Keats

If you want to read a perfect book there is only one way: write it. – Ambrose Bierce, A Cynic Looks at Life

The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books. – Katherine Mansfield, letter to Ottoline Morrell, January 1922

The author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children. – Benjamin Disraeli, speech given in Glasgow, 1870 

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. – Francis Bacon, ‘Of Studies’

Terry Pratchett 5Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation. Lend and borrow to the maximum. – Henry Miller, The Books in My Life

There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts. – Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

One always tends to overpraise a long book, because one has got through it. – E. M. Forster, Abinger Harvest

The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame. – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

A novel should be a book of questions, not a book of answers. – Hilary Mantel, The Guardian, 28 January 2006

Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered. – W. H. Auden, ‘Reading’, in The Dyer’s Hand

Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic. – Carl Sagan, Cosmos

There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. – Ray Bradbury, ‘Coda’ (1979) to Fahrenheit 451

When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes. – Erasmus, letter of April 1500

What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee? – Anthony Trollope, The Warden

Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other? – David Baldacci, The Camel Club


Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home. – Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

Books are still man’s greatest invention, despite the nonsense so often published between their covers. – Martin Arnold, New York Times, 19 October 2000

Katherine MansfieldA book is a device to ignite the imagination. – Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader

When I am reading a book, whether wise or silly, it seems to me to be alive and talking to me. – Jonathan Swift, ‘Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting’

To choose a good book, look in an inquisitor’s prohibited list. – John Aikin, Memoir of John Aikin, M. D.

Poetry is not the books in the library. Poetry is the encounter of the reader with the book, the discovery of the book. – Jorge Luis Borges, ‘Poetry’, 1977

If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. – Emily Dickinson, letter to Thomas Higginson, c. 1870

As life goes on, don’t you find that all you need is about two real friends, a regular supply of books, and a Peke? – P. G. Wodehouse, letter to William Townend, 28 October 1930

We read many books, because we cannot know enough people. – T. S. Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture

I haven’t told why I wrote the book, but I haven’t told why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze. – E. B. White, about Charlotte’s Web, in a letter of 29 September 1952

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer. – Ernest Hemingway, A Letter from Cuba, 1934

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. – Middle Eastern saying

There is something awfully nice about reading a book again, with all the half-unconscious memories it brings back. – C. S. Lewis, letter to Arthur Greeves, 16 November 1915

A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. – John Milton, Areopagitica

For books are more than books, they are the life, / The very heart and core of ages past. – Amy Lowell, ‘The Boston Athenaeum’

Jorge Luis BorgesBooks are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. – Charles Francis Richardson, The Choice of Books

What wild desires, what restless torments seize / The hapless man, who feels the book-disease. – John Ferrier, ‘The Bibliomania’

The first time I read an excellent book, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend. – Oliver Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World

Books say: she did this because. Life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you. – Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot

I prefer bread and water with books, to the best of eating without them. – Stephen F. Austin, Prison Journal, published 1899

A good book is always on tap; it may be decanted and drunk a hundred times, and it is still there for further imbibement. – Holbrook Jackson, The Anatomy of Bibliomania

Only two classes of books are of universal appeal: the very best and the very worst. – Ford Madox Ford, Joseph Conrad

All that mankind has done, thought, gained, or been; it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books. – Thomas Carlyle, ‘The Hero as Man of Letters’

Your borrowers of books – those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes. – Charles Lamb, ‘The Two Races of Men’

Books are the mirror of the soul. – Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading. – William Styron, interview in Writers at Work, First Series (1958)

The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking. – Christopher Morley, Saturday Review of Literature, 27 December 1924

If you enjoyed this selection of the best quotes about books, check out our inspirational 50 Great Sourced Author Quotes and our interesting facts about literacy and reading.

Image (top): Terry Pratchett at WorldCon in Glasgow, 2005; author Szymon Sokół; Wikimedia Commons. Image (middle): Katherine Mansfield; author unknown; Wikimedia Commons. Image (bottom): Jorge Luis Borges by Grete Stern, 1951; Wikimedia Commons, public domain.


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  3. Reblogged this on ArtFreak.

  4. Reblogged this on The Rambling Badger and commented:
    All of these are pretty good.

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  6. Great collection of quotes, thanks. I liked the one about reading the best books first, because there really isn’t time to read all the good books in one life.

  7. Reblogged this on jelmak1234.

  8. This is a great post. A friend recently told me she hadn’t read a book in years. Years! These quotes remind me that I’m not the only one for whom books are like food and water. Thanks.

  9. Thanks for sharing a great list.

  10. Enjoyed the list, but I wish you’d captioned your author photos. I don’t recognize many authors by sight.

  11. Reblogged this on Clarity.

  12. Reblogged this on littlegladys and commented:
    Heyaa lil’pies,
    I don’t always reblog, but this article has some beautiful quotes I can only but share with you !
    Hope you’ll enjoy !