Quotes about Reading, Writing, and Storytelling

Reading offers us opportunities to travel, moving our eyes without moving our feet.—John Raphael Staude

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” — Mortimer J. Adler

Reading offers the unique power to transport us to other worlds. Books are passports that offer us a free trip to other lands both real and imagined. For some, books also become an escape, taking us out of a miserable and mundane life and into a new place where anything is possible, including a happy ending. I divide all readers into two classes; those who read to remember and those who read to forget. The following quotes were selected from Sarah S Davis,  A Reader’s Library of Book Quotes: For Librarians, Writers, and Bookworms Everywhere . Broke by Books Press. Kindle Edition.

In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.”  — Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” — Garrison Keillor

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.” — Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

Books were my pass to personal freedom.” — Oprah Winfrey

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” — Mason Cooley 

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” —Stephen King, On Writing 

“I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a book.” — J.K. Rowling

 “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

“I go to books and to nature as the bee goes to a flower, for a nectar that I can make into my own honey.” — John Burroughs, The Summit of the Years

“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

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” — W. Somersat Maugham, Books and You

Davis, Sarah S.. A Reader’s Library of Book Quotes: For Librarians, Writers, and Bookworms Everywhere . Broke by Books Press. Kindle Edition. 

“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.” — Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel 

“Reading brings us unknown friends” — Honoré de Balzac  

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” — Ernest Hemingway

“I love books. I like that the moment you open one and sink into it you can escape from the world, into a story that’s way more interesting than yours will ever be.” — Elizabeth Scott, Bloom 

 “I mean, most people want to escape. Get out    of their heads. Out of their lives. Stories are the easiest way to do that.” — Victoria Schwab, This Savage Song

“You forget everything. The hours slip by. You travel in your chair through centuries you seem to see before you, your thoughts are caught up in the story, dallying with the details or following the course of the plot, you enter into characters, so that it seems as if it were your own heart beating beneath their costumes.”                                             — Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary 

  • ✦Books are everywhere; and always the same sense of adventure fills us. Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.”            — Virginia Woolf in Street Haunting 

 “I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print, the way you crawl through a fence, and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree.” Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss  

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” — Neil Gaiman  

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

“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.”                        — Author Unknown

“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

Writers all have access to the same alphabet, but what makes a writer a storyteller is the way they wield these letters to craft a compelling story. These quotes embrace the power of storytelling and the writing process that each author embarks on to tell stories.

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” — Madeline L’Engle 

  • “There comes a time in your life when you have to choose to turn the page, write another book or simply close it.” — Sharon L. Alder  
  • “The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book.” — Vladimir Nabokov 
  • “A good story is always more dazzling than a broken piece of truth.” — Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale 
  • “Writers are the exorcists of their own demons.” — Mario Vargas-Llosa 
  • “It’s a rare book that wins the battle against drooping eyelids.” — Tracy Chevalier 
  • “A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.” — Mark Twain 
  • “There’s a hunger for stories in all of us, adults too. We need stories so much that we’re even willing to read bad books to get them, if the good books won’t supply them.” — Philip Pullman 
  • “You look like a protagonist.” — Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park 
  • “You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.” — John Rogers 
  • “It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” — William Faulkner 
  • “If you’re silent for a long time, people just arrive in your mind.” — Alice Walker 
  • “Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer’s work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader’s recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book’s truth.” — Marcel Proust, Time Regained 
  • “Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”  — Plato 
  • “Those who write are writers. Those who wait are waiters.” — A. Lee Martinez  
  • “I have no taste for either poverty or honest labor, so writing is the only recourse left for me.” — Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway 
  • “The first thing that distinguishes a writer is that he is most alive when alone.” — Martin Amis 
  • “Capture your reader, let him not depart, from dull beginnings that refuse to start” — Horace 
  • “I believe that a writer is a person who writes. An author is a person who has written.”  — Dean Wesley Smith 
  • “Every great love starts with a great story…” — Nicholas Sparks 
  • “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing                     we need most in the world.” — Philip Pullman
  • “The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in.” — Henry Green 
  • “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.” — Willa Cather 
  • “You can fix anything but a blank page.” — Nora Roberts 
  • “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” — Leo Tolstoy 
  • “When someone is mean to me, I just make them a victim in my next book.”  — Mary Higgins Clark 
  • “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” — Joan Didion 
  • “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” — Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works 
  • “A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.” — Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
  • “To hell with facts! We need stories!” — Ken Kesey 
  • “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.” — Ernest Hemingway 
  • “[I]t is the wine that leads me on, / the wild wine / that sets the wisest man to sing / at the top of his lungs, / laugh like a fool – it drives the / man to dancing… it even / tempts him to blurt out stories / better never told.” — Homer, The Odyssey 
  • “Humans are pattern-seeking story-telling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories about patterns, whether they exist or not.” — Michael Shermer 
  • “Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream—making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is the very essence of dreams…” — Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness 
  • “A slavish concern for the composition of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect. Be gone, odious wasp! You smell of decayed syllables.” — Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth 
  • “Your tale, sir, would cure deafness.” — William Shakespeare, The Tempest 
  • “I have always held the old-fashioned opinion that the primary object of work of fiction should be to tell a story.” — Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White
  • “You want to tell a story? Grow a heart. Grow two. Now, with the second heart, smash the first one into bits.” — Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe 
  • “I got this story from someone who had no business in the telling of it.” — Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes 
  • “What tales do you like best to hear?’ ‘Oh, I have not much choice! They generally run on the same theme – courtship; and promise to end in the same catastrophe – marriage.” — Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre 
  • “They weren’t true stories; they were better than that.” — Alice Hoffman, The Story Sisters 
  • “Sometime reality is too complex. Stories give it form.” — Jean Luc Godard 
  • “Every story, even your own, is either happy or sad depending on where you stop telling it.” — Wiley Cash 
  • “There’s always, there’ll always be, more story. That’s what story is…It’s the never-ending leaf-fall.” — Ali Smith, Autumn 
  • “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” — C.S. Lewis 
  • “What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit.” — John Updike 
  • “What an author doesn’t know could fill a book.” — Holly Black, Lucinda’s Secret 
  • “There are words and words and none mean anything. And then one sentence means everything.” — Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North 
  • “Literature can remind us that not all life is already written down: there are still so many stories to be told.” — Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin 
  • “When I want to read a novel, I write one.” — Benjamin Disraeli 
  • “I learned to write by reading the kind of books I wished I’d written.” — Barbara Kingsolver 
  • “Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” — Boris Pasternak 
  • “Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.” — Octavia E. Butler 
  • “You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way.” — Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind 
  • “In the end, we’ll all become stories.” — Margaret Atwood, Moral Disorder and Other Stories 
  • “I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it.” — Woodrow Wilson 
  • “A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.” — G.K. Chesterton 
  • “A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it or offer your own version in return.” — Salman Rushdie 
  • “Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself.” — Angela Carter 
  • “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” — Toni Morrison 
  • “A good book has no ending.” — R.D. Cumming 
  • “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” — J.D. Salinger in The Catcher in the Rye

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”  — Nathaniel Hawthorne 

✦ “Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different style.” — R.L. Stine

Sarah S Davis, ed. A Reader’s Library of Book Quotes: For Librarians, Writers, and Bookworms Everywhere . Broke by Books Press.

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