Two small, white ceramic vases placed on top of a stack of books; photo via George Milton/Canva.
Affirmations & Journaling

11 Important Life Quotes From Books You Should Read

Reading books can be a powerful way to learn life lessons. They teach us about different cultures, histories and perspectives that help nurture understanding and compassion. Shared stories offer insights into human behaviour with the potential to open us up to exploring our own experiences and emotions. 

Every so often when we’re reading a book certain quotes stand out; resonating on some level that leave us reflecting on their meaning and how it may relate to our own lives. Quotes can be thought-provoking and inspiring or even disrupting and challenging (which, sometimes, can be exactly what we need). Delving into the words an author skillfully weaves together isn’t merely about enjoying an entertaining story or taking a break from our day-to-day lives; reading reduces stress, develops critical thinking, improves concentration as well as expands our knowledge.

A title graphic for a post available on Transatlantic Notes called, ’11 Important Life Quotes From Books You Should Read’. The background image shows two small, white ceramic vases placed on top of a stack of books.

Similar to reading, journaling can also be incredibly beneficial. Finding a way to express our thoughts, resolve conflict or track important progress focuses our mindset on personal growth and development. Discovering a deeper awareness into our own life not only supports gaining greater clarity; it’s an outlet for our emotions that provides space to process things in a safe and structured way. And the advantages don’t stop there; journaling is known to boost our health and well-beingusing quotes from various books as writing prompts can deliver purposeful guidance to our contemplation.

It’s with this in mind that I’ve shared eleven incredible quotes from books I’d highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t read them yet. Anything that encourages creativity, a connection to self-awareness or helps us sort through something can become a valuable journal prompt.

I hope those of you looking through this post will find a few quotes that spark some self-reflection and encourage you in some way. Inspirational words possess the capacity to build bridges, promote healing and foster empathy (for ourselves and others). Let’s dive in …

Little Fires Everywhere

Quote from Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.

Change can be unplanned, even unforeseen, but it remains a certain (and necessary) part of life; it forces us to challenge ourselves and explore new possibilities. And sometimes, change has to be so radical, so extensive that we need to realign everything and begin again. A fresh start can be exhilarating and full of possibilities or jarring and precarious; but this quote serves as a reminder that no matter how change comes, we will find our way forward.

Journal Prompt: If you could improve something in one key area of your life, what would it be? What can you do to support/encourage this shift?

The Alchemist

I think many of us have a secret dream that we’ve yet to begin working on because we’re holding ourselves back. There are many reasons as to why we’re not taking that initial step; fear of failure, a faltering self-belief or not enough resources/support, for example — but there’s something quietly hopeful about knowing that if we give it a go, things might actually work out.

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. The Alchemist | Paulo Coelho

Journal Prompt: Is there a personal goal you’ve yet to work towards? Reflect on what is holding you back.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

Quote from The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy: We often wait for kindness … but being kind to yourself can start now.

If we’re to take our well-being and overall happiness seriously, acts of self-compassion and care have to become part of our daily routine. Understanding our own needs, feelings and emotions remain central to nurturing ourselves but we don’t have to wait until everything is in place before we intentionally practice (or deserve) self-love.

Journal Prompt: How do you show yourself kindness?

The Light We Carry

Broadening our horizons and cultivating a wider perspective on the world can lead to more meaningful relationships, opportunities and experiences. Becoming open-minded and respectfully appreciative of other people, cultures, beliefs and lifestyles allows us to venture outside of ourselves (including our comfort zones) and discover curious, knowledgeable personal growth.  

In clinging only to what you know, you are making your world small. You are robbing yourself of chances to grow. The Light We Carry | Michelle Obama

Journal Prompt: How do you encourage yourself when you’re trying something new?

The Hate U Give

Quote from The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?

Advocacy is about recognizing and celebrating the humanity of others and standing in the way of any disparities and injustices within society. If we believe in eliminating inequity and discrimination then we have to take part in consistent, meaningful action. Social change is collaborative; as Rep. John Lewis once said in another notable quote; “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Journal Prompt: How do you use your voice for good? Write about a time you stood up for someone or advocated for positive social change.

No Name in the Street

This is a salient reminder that we cannot expect to ease difficulties and challenges if we’re unwilling (or unable) to acknowledge them. As one would expect, some things in life can’t be improved or fixed, but even these problems will be eased when we decide to adapt to them instead. Confronting tough experiences presents an opportunity to acquire and develop problem-solving skills that equip us to better overcome obstacles in the future.

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. No Name in the Street | James Baldwin

Journal Prompt: What new opportunities have come out of the challenges you’ve faced?

Big Panda and Tiny Dragon

Quote from Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury: When you light a lantern for someone else, you cannot help but light up your own path.

Encouraging others is how we reciprocate tenderness and graciousness that generates a lasting positive impact; a ripple effect of kindness. Supporting those around us boosts our own sense of purpose and joy; deepening our relationships as we put good things out into the universe. 

Journal Prompt: What small acts of kindness make a big difference? How do you show others that you care?

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

I’ve shared this particular quote a few times as it’s from a book (Braiding Sweetgrass) that has indeed transformed how I relate to and care for the environment. Humans and nature rely on each other to survive; we cannot wait for one to be sustained before maintaining balance with the other. It’s vital we recognize how interconnected we are; by saving the Earth, we’re saving ourselves. 

Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us. Braiding Sweetgrass | Robin Wall Kimmerer

Journal Prompt: Reflecting on how humans, the land and the environment depend on each other; how do you connect to and take care of the natural world?

A Wrinkle in Time

Quote from A Wrinkle InTime by Madeleine L’Engle: Do you know all of the events that had to occur in the universe to create you exactly as you are?


We’re shaped by numerous things in life; some are clearly defined while others come from influences that may seem almost imperceptible. Whether it’s generational knowledge and experience or every event/person we’ve encountered in our life’s journey thus far; we’re made of all the things that fed into our soul. We are nuanced and complex and constantly evolving; we never stop learning and growing.

Journal Prompt: If you could tell your younger self three things, what would they be?

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Even in the worst of times; when we feel like there’s nothing left, there will be something to hold on to. It could be anything — even if it’s initially perceived as simple or small — that points out life has much more to offer. There will always be more love yet to come and things to look forward to.

There is always something left to love. One Hundred Years of Solitude | Gabriel García Márquez

Journal Prompt: What is something you’ve seen or heard lately that makes you feel hopeful?

The Marrow Thieves

Quote from The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline: Sometimes the path in front of you alters. Sometimes it goes through some pretty dark territory. Just make sure it doesn't change the intent of the trip. As long as the intent is good, nothing else matters.

There may be times when we have to follow an alternative route towards a particular goal. Managing to cope with distractions or adversity when we’re trying to achieve something takes courage and adaptability. There will be tests along the way, but focusing on what we’ve learned and worked towards so far can still carry us forward.

Journal Prompt: What does resilience mean to you? Write about a time you successfully faced a difficult challenge.

In Summary

If any of these quotes resonated and ignited some creativity and self-reflection; I hope you’ll use the journal prompts they inspired to explore your own thoughts and ideas. All the books they originated from are ones that have made a deep impression on me; I hope you’ll read them if you haven’t had a chance to yet or revisit them if you have.

Which quote is your favourite? Have you read any of these books?


Further Info:

The Best New Fiction Books to Read in 2023 – Harper’s Bazaar

36 thoughts on “11 Important Life Quotes From Books You Should Read”

  1. Those are wonderful! I especially loved that you included: It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. The Alchemist | Paulo Coelho. That is literally my favorite book of all time. Such an inspirational post thank you for sharing!

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  2. Wonderful post Molly! I love how you paired each quote with a journal prompt. I really enjoyed The Light We Carry, I highlighted so many life quotes from that book and I’m glad to see it made your list. Thank you for sharing this uplifting post!

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    1. The themes throughout the book sort of centre on mental health and how we can protect it with love, friendship, hope and being able to ask for help — and that kindness is not something we have to wait for from others, it’s something we can (and should) show ourselves. I think that links in nicely with your point about being the kindness we want to see in the world — that’s a really lovely thought.

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  3. I love that this post focuses on quotes from books! My favorite quote out of these is “we often wait for kindness but being kind to yourself can start now” as it is a good reminder to practice self-love and self-care. I also like that you included journal prompts for each quote.

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  4. This was such a great post and loved that you paired quotes with journal prompts to self-reflect! I really loved the one about being kind to ourselves in The boy, the fox, the mole and the horse, that book had me in tears! Also, the one from The hate U give, is such a powerful book! Adding The light we carry and No name in the street to my list x

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  5. What an amazing post. I love the quotes, book recommendations and journal prompts they inspired. I’ve never really thought to turn meaningful quotes into journal prompts to reflect on more deeply. Thank you for sharing, Molly.

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  6. What a lovely selection of quotes. I enjoy finding quotes that resonate with me or inspire me. They can also be a great thing to have in my bullet journal and journal. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl

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