12 Inspiring Quotes About Books and Reading

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Yuri_Arcurs/iStock via Getty Images Plus / Yuri_Arcurs/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Books can transport readers to far-flung places, send them back (or forward) in time, and open their eyes and minds to new points of view. Authors are well aware of the effects books can have; here are some of the profound things your favorite writers have had to say about books and reading. (You can find these quotes, and many more, in Mental Floss’s The Curious Reader: A Journal for Book Lovers, out now.)

1. “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 to Sheilah Graham

2. “My grandfather always says that’s what books are for … to travel without moving an inch.” —Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

2. “If a book is well written I always find it too short.” Jane Austen, Catharine, or the Bower

4. “My life is a reading list.” —John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

5. “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” —Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

6. “‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,’ said Jojen. ‘The man who never reads lives only one.’” George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

7. “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

8. “One glance at [a book] and you hear the voice of another person—perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you … To read is to voyage through time.” Carl Sagan, Cosmos

9. “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not seriously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” Francis Bacon, Essays

10. “Bread and books: food for the body and food for the soul—what could be more worthy of our respect, and even love?” —Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands

11. “[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, “Literature as Pleasure, Pleasure as Literature”

12. “Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind.” Toni Morrison, interview, Word Magazine