74 Literary Quotes to Live By


For centuries, works of literature have provided inspiration and advice on how to live, work, travel, and love. Characters from the most beloved books offer life lessons and new perspectives that can influence the way we choose to live even when we’re done turning the page. From classics like Pride and Prejudice and To Kill a Mockingbird to more contemporary works like the Harry Potter series, great writing has the ability to sweep us off our feet and remain with us for years to come.

Whether you are an avid reader, or simply enjoy collecting rare books to display on your bookshelf, classic works of literature are full of motivational and insightful quotes that speak to the facets of the human experience. We pored over our favorite novels to compile 74 literary quotes to live by. Explore them below with our quote generator full of poignant expressions for every situation.

Literary Quotes to Live By
Wuthering Heights  — Wuthering Heights , Emily Brontë

Margaret Mead

Gone With The Wind

You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.

Annie Prouix

Brokeback Mountain

I wish I knew how to quit you.

Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina

He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.

Victor Hugo

Les Misérables

To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.

Aphra Benn

The Rover

One hour of right down love is worth an age of dully living on.

Toni Morrison


It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

Gabriel García Márquez

Love In The Time of Cholera

I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love.

Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence

Each time you happen to me all over again.

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

We are all fools in love.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  — Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince , J.K. Rowling

Herman Melville

Moby Dick

It is not down on any map; true places never are.

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

Not all those who wander are lost.

Walt Whitman

Leaves of Grass

Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself.

Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451

See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.

Jack Kerouac

On the Road

There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.

Henry Miller

Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.

Marcel Proust

Remembrance of Things Past

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Interpreter of Maladies

Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept.

Beloved  — Beloved , Toni Morrison

Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.

Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina

It’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it.

John Milton

Paradise Lost

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.

Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.

William Goldman

The Princess Bride

Life isn’t fair, it’s just fairer than death, that’s all.

Herman Melville

Moby Dick

I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.

Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men

You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.

George Eliot

The Mill on the Floss

We can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive.

Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man

Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.

Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

The Bell Jar  — The Bell Jar , Sylvia Plath

Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently?

John Steinbeck

Travels with Charley: In Search of America

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

Walt Whitman

Leaves of Grass

Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.

William Goldman

The Princess Bride

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Throw a stone into the stream and the ripples that propagate themselves are the beautiful type of all influence.

Henry David Thoreau


Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.

Jane Austen

Mansfield Park

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

What fresh hell is this?

Oscar Wilde

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories

The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.

Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

What are men to rocks and mountains?

W. H. Auden

The More Loving One

If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me.


The Odyssey

I look at you and a sense of wonder takes me.

Marcel Proust

Swan’s Way

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Charles Dickens

Great Expectations

I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.

Isabel Allende

The House of the Spirits

Land is something one should never sell. It is the only thing left when all else is gone.

John Knowles

A Separate Peace

When you love something it loves you back in whatever way it has to love.

Jack Kerouac

On the Road

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

Junot Dìaz

This Is How You Lose Her

You were at the age where you could fall in love with a girl over an expression, over a gesture.

J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Don Quixote  — Don Quixote , Miguel de Carvantes Saavedra

Stella Gibbons

Cold Comfort Farm

I do not object to the phenomena, but I do object to the parrot.

John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces

I mingle with my peers or no one, and since I have no peers, I mingle with no one.

John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces

My life is a rather grim one. One day I shall perhaps describe it to you in great detail.

Miguel de Carvantes Saavedra

Don Quixote

Wit and humor do not reside in slow minds.

Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo

The difference between treason and patriotism is only a matter of dates.

Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo

How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure.

Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

She had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy; but her manners were excellent.

Hunter S. Thompson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

1) Never trust a cop in a raincoat.

Hunter S. Thompson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Bill Bryson

The Lost Continent

I was heading to Nebraska. Now there’s a sentence you don’t want to say too often if you can possibly help it.

East of Eden  — East of Eden , John Steinbeck

Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

William Goldman

The Princess Bride

Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.

Stephen King

The Shawshank Redemption

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Charles Dickens

David Copperfield

My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.

Great works of literature can offer new perspective on people, places, and events, and compelling writing can even have the power to change our perception of the human experience. Classic novels that were written hundreds of years ago remain just as relevant today, and continue to offer lessons and advice that can make us stop and think about who we want to be.

The next time you’re looking for a little inspiration, consider turning to famous quotes from literature for a bit of a boost. Whether you’re going through a difficult time, lucky in love, planning a trip, or just want a good laugh, these famous literary quotes can offer insight to help you thrive.

Sources: Stylist | Bustle | Buzzfeed | ShortList | Buzzfeed | Quote Catalog | Reader’s Digest | Barnes and Noble | Book Riot | Mental Floss | Quote Catalog | Good Reads | Bustle | CNN Travel