Pop Out Quotes

Quotes and Passages

chinua achebe2

Chinua Achebe (1930 – 2013)

—a Nigerian author, poet, and critic

From his first novel, Things Fall Apart:

  • “The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

I do not know the source of these but I like them as well:

  • “Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am—and what I need—is something I have to find out myself.”
  • “People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.”

Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander (1924 – 2007)

—an American author of children’s and young adult fantasy novels

From his novel The Book of Three:

  • “It’s not the trappings that make the prince nor, indeed, the sword that makes the warrior.”
  • “The three foundations of learning: see much, study much, suffer much.”
  • “We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.”
  • “It’s always nice to see two friends meet again. It’s like waking up with the sun shining.”
  • “Once you have courage to look upon evil, seeing it for what it is and naming it by its true name, it is powerless against you and you can destroy it.”

From his novel The Black Cauldron:

  • “There is a destiny laid on us to do what we must do, though it is not always given to us to see it.”
  • “There is much to be known…and above all much to be loved, be it the turn of the seasons or the shape of a river pebble. Indeed, the more we find to love, the more we add to the measure of our hearts.”
  • “There is truth in all things, if you understand them well.”
  • “You should know there is adventure in simply being among those we love and the things we love, and beauty, too.”
  • “It is easy to judge evil unmixed…But, alas, in most of us good and bad are closely woven as the threads on a loom.”

From his novel The Castle of Llyr:

  • “For each of us comes a time when we must be more than what we are.”
  • “The nature of fantasy allows happenings which reveal most clearly our own frailties and our own strengths.”
  • “We know least what we treasure most.”
  • “To go well-shod is half the journey.”
  • “For a man to be worthy of any rank, he must strive first to be a man.”
  • “A warrior’s life is one of hardship and it takes a stout heart to follow it.”

From his novel Taran Wanderer:

  • “…the further from the deed, the greater it grows, and the most glorious battle is the one longest past. So it’s hardly surprising how many heroes you run into.”
  • “You need only sharpen your eyes to see your luck when it comes, and sharpen your wits to use what falls into your hands…Trust your luck, Taran Wanderer. But don’t forget to put out your nets.”
  • “Life is a forge! Yes, and hammer and anvil, too! You’ll be roasted, smelted, and pounded, and you’ll scarce know what’s happening to you. But stand boldly to it! Metal’s worthless till it’s shaped and tempered.”
  • “Face the pounding; don’t fear the proving; and you’ll stand well against any hammer and anvil.”
  • “[Life is] a loom, rather, where lives and days intertwine; and wise he is who can learn to see the pattern.”
  • “Stale water is a poor drink. Stale skill is worse. And the man who walks in his own footsteps only ends where he began.”

Español: Isabel Allende escritora chilena en l...

Isabel Allende

—a Chilean author

From her TED Talk, How to Live Passionately—No Matter Your Age:

  • “We all feel younger than our real ages because the spirit never ages.”
  • “Ram Dass [an American spiritual teacher] says that dependency hurts, but if you accept it, there is less suffering. After a very bad stroke, his ageless soul watches the changes in the body with tenderness, and he is grateful to the people who help him.”

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014)

—an African American author, poet, activist, dancer, singer, actress

I do not know where these are from but I like them:

  • “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
  • “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

From Conversations with Maya Angelou:

  • “…there is nothing quite so tragic as a young cynic, because it means the person has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.”

Apollonius of Rhodes (approx. 296 BC – 216 BC)

—a Hellenistic Greek poet

From his epic poem Jason and the Argonauts (a.k.a. The Argonautica):

  • “Her heart was fitful, restless in the way / a sunbeam, when reflected off the water / swirling out of a pail or pitcher, dances / upon the walls — yes, that was how her heart / was quivering.”
  • “They also coined / a title there, Apollo God of Radiance, / because his beams were radiant, and they named / that barren isle Epiphany because / the god revealed it to them, like a vision, / when they were sunk in fear.”
  • “In rough spots words have often smoothed the way / and won what valor only could have won / with toil and sweat.”
  • “He deftly strung his little bow / and from the quiver chose a virgin arrow / laden with future groans.”
  • “Sudden are the woes / that gods allot to mortals. Strive to bear / your portion of them, though it pains your heart.”
  • “Mortals can never sidestep fate; the cosmic / net is extended round us everywhere.”
  • “Nothing harder can befall a man / than dire necessity.”
  • “…silence held the blackening gloom.”
  • “In counsel many men outdistance one.”


Aristotle (approx. 384 BC – 322 BC)

—a Greek philosopher, student of Plato, teacher of Alexander the Great (Wikipedia)

I have no idea when or where Aristotle said or wrote this but I came across it when watching Freeman Hrabowski’s TED Talk, “4 Pillars of College Success in Science”. Hrabowski is the current president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

  • “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
  • “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Marcus Aurelius (approx. 121 AD – 180 AD)

—a Roman emperor who ruled from 161 to 180 AD

I found this quote in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (see below):

  • “Be satisfied with even the smallest progress, and treat the outcome of it all as unimportant.”

Muriel Barbery

—a French novelist

From her novel The Life of Elves:

  • “Indeed, I would not be surprised if, in the end, we find out that we are all the characters of some meticulous but mad novelist.”
  • “‘The universe is a gigantic story,’ said Petrus. ‘And everyone has their own story, radiating somewhere in the firmament of fictions and leading somewhere into the sky of prophecies and dreams.’”
  • “True faith, it is a well-known fact, has little regard for chapels, but it does believe in the communion of mysteries, and with its unworldly fusion of beliefs, it crushes any temptations that prove too intolerant.”
  • “Clearly, no human being had ever managed to touch her soul the way the mountains had, and therefore the snow and the storms lived inside a heart that was still equally open both to happiness and to the sortileges of misfortune. And now, the further they went into the city, the more her heart bled. She was discovering not only a terrain that had surrendered to its interment under stone, but also what had been done to the stones themselves: they now rose to the sky in straight, dull walls, having ceased to breath beneath the onslaught that had defaced them forever. Thus as night fell upon the joyful crowds drunkenly celebrating the return of the warm breezes, Clara saw only a mass of dead stone and a cemetery where living people went willingly to be buried.”
  • “…Without the land, one’s soul is empty, but without stories, the land is silent…”
  • “‘Remember the stories,’ he said as he got to his feet. ‘They are the intelligence of the world — of this world, and of all the others.’”
  • “…childhood is the dream that allows us to understand what we do not yet know.”
  • “Love doesn’t save, it raises you up and makes you bigger, it lights you up from inside and carves out that light like wood in the forest. It nestles in the hollows of empty days, of thankless tasks, of useless hours, it doesn’t drift along on golden rafts or sparkling rivers, it doesn’t sing or shine and it never proclaims a thing. But at night, once the room’s been swept and the embers covered over and the children are asleep — at night, at last, when we’re weary of our meager lives and the trivialities of our insignificant existence, each of us becomes the well where the other can draw water, and we love each other and learn to love ourselves.”

English: David Brooks

David Brooks

—an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times

From his TED Talk, “Should You Live for Your Resume…or Your Eulogy”:

On how to build depth of character:

  • “You go into yourself, you find the sin which you have committed over and again through your life, your signature sin out of which the others emerge. And you fight that sin and you wrestle with that sin. And out of that wrestling, that suffering, then a depth of character is constructed.”


Julie Burstein

—radio producer (created Studio 360, a radio program on Public Radio International), author (wrote Spark: How Creativity Works), and public speaker

From her TED Talk, “4 Lessons in Creativity”:

  • “Creativity grows out of everyday experiences, including letting go…creativity also grow out of the broken places.”
  • Things to embrace to improve creativity:
    1. Experience: “Being open to the experience that will change you.”
    2. Challenge: “Sometimes pushing into what they [artists] can’t do helps them focus on finding their own voice.”
    3. Limitations: “In order to create, we must stand in that space between what we see in the world and what we hope for.” [called the tragic gap]
    4. Loss: “For creativity to flourish [requires] the embrace of loss, the oldest and most constant of human experiences.”

Charlotte Brontë (1816 – 1855)

—an English novelist and poet

From her novel Jane Eyre:

  • “It was now the sweetest hour of the twenty-four: ‘Day its fervid fires had wasted,’ and dew fell cool on planting plain and scorched summit. Where the sun had gone down in simple state — pure of the pomp of clouds — spread a solemn purple, burning with the light of red jewel and furnace flame at one point, on one hill peak, and extending high and wide, soft and still softer, over half heaven. The east had its own charm or fine deep blue, and its own modest gem, a casino and solitary star: soon it would boast the moon, but she was yet beneath the horizon.”
  • “I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space: ‘Then,’ I cried, half desperate, ‘grant me at least a new servitude!’”
  • “It is a happy thing that time quells the longings of vengeance and hushes the promptings of rage and aversion.”
  • “The whole consciousness of my life lorn, my love lost, my hope quenched, my faith death-struck, swayed full and mighty above me in one sullen mass.”
  • “He saw nature — he saw books through me; and never did I weary of gazing for his behalf.”

Saturday Auditorium Series Speaker: Susan Cain

Susan Cain

—an American author and lecturer

From her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking:

  • “Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”
  • “Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.”
  • “It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.”

Stephen Chbosky

Stephen Chbosky

—an American author, screen writer, and film director

From his novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower:

  • “…we accept the love we think we deserve.”
  • “Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”
  • “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Charles W. Chesnutt (1858 – 1932)

—an African American author, political activisy, and lawyer

From his short story, “The Wife of His Youth”:

  • “Self-preservation is the first law of nature.”


Pema Chödrön

—an American Tibetan Buddhist

From her book Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better:

  • “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
  • “Mistakes are the portal to creativity, to learning something new, to having a fresh look on things.”

Billy Coffey

Billy Coffey

—an American author

From his novel The Curse of Crow Hollow:

  • “Fear’s the world’s way of reminding you of what you have.”
  • “…loneliness is a hell all its own.”
  • “Don’t matter if they’s the ugliest soul who ever drew a breath, the first one you fall for always remains beautiful to you in some way, and the memories you have of the time you spent together get colored over in soft shades as the years wear on.”
  • “They had their faith, sure, though my experience has been faith is something that blossoms and wilts in a life as easy as the corn in these fields.”
  • “It’s always easier to bear up under your misery when the person beside you’s as crushed as you are.”
  • “A man’s whole self is tied to his work. You take that work away, you cast him off with neither wind nor current and there he remains adrift, purposeless.”
  • “Love’s a crazy thing, is it not? One day you’re throwing rocks you’re so mad, the next you’re pining once more for the very thing that riled you.”
  • “All darkness needs to spread is for a bunch of people to stand around and do nothing.”
  • “People think they’re free in life. Maybe they are for a while. But sooner or later all the choices you make narrow down to a single end, and that’s the only end you can meet”
  • “There’s no grace to a revival, only judgement, and maybe that’s the point of the whole thing. If a man of God can’t convince you to embrace heaven, I guess he figures scaring the hell out of you will accomplish the same thing.”
  • “But is there not a bit of night in even the brightest life? Is there not still a sinner’s heart beating inside every saint?”
  • “People always compare themselves to others. I guess it helps us know where we stand with everybody else. Problem is, every time we compare who we are to how we think someone else is, we always come up short. Somebody’s always better looking or richer or liked better. But when we gossip? That’s different. That’s the only way we can compare ourselves to somebody else and come out looking better than they are.”
  • “…religion turns to something else when paired with fear and hate.”
  • “Make no mistake on what I tell you, nothing carries the might of words. Give me sword or a gun, give me the power of death. Those things can only strike flesh and bone, friend. They can change neither nation nor world. But give me words and I may rule, for by them I reach the heart and the mind.”

Cyril Connolly

—an English literary critic and writer

I don’t know the source for this but I like it:

On writing:

  • “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”


Angie Cruz

—an American author

From her novel Soledad:

  • “It’s always like that: just when I think I don’t give a shit about what my family thinks, they find a way to drag me back home.”
  • “My grandmother is split between ideas, country, her dreams and what’s real.”
  • “Never be afraid of making a mess. That’s the fastest way of getting thing done.”
  • “Soledad, when you write something down, it keeps it alive. There is a certain power to words, memories, ideas when one writes them down.”

Amy Cuddy - PopTech 2011 - Camden Maine USA

Amy Cuddy

—an American social psychologist and associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School

From her TED Talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”:

  • “When we think of nonverbals, we think of how we judge others….We tend to forget, though, the other audience that’s influenced by our nonverbals: ourselves.”
  • “Our bodies change our minds and our minds change our behavior and our behavior changes our outcomes.”
  • “Fake it ’til you become it….Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize.”
  • “Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.” [Take 2 minutes to configure your brain to cope the best in a stressful situation; for example, try a power pose in the bathroom before going into an interview—makes you feel confident.]

Kristy Cunningham

—an American illustrator and comic book writer

From her web comic, Infinite Spiral, Vol. 1:

  • “Heroes lead such lonely lives and drag everyone around them into the spiral.”

Junot Díaz

—a Dominican American author

From The Daily Beast’s “How I Write” interviews:

  • “The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.”


Annie Dillard

—an American author and poet

From her book, The Writing Life:

  • “It is the beginning of a work that the writer throws away.”
  • “Your freedom as a writer is not freedom of expression…It is life at its most free, if you are fortunate enough to be able to try it, because you select your materials, invent your task, and pace yourself.”
  • “Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.”
  • “The writer studies literature, not the world.”
  • “Only after the writer lets literature shape her can she perhaps shape literature.”

Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison

—an American author

On writing:

I found this on Advice To Writers. I do not know the original source.

  • “I talk about the things people have always talked about in stories: pain, hate, truth, courage, destiny, friendship, responsibility, growing old, growing up, falling in love, all of these things. What I try to write about are the darkest things in the soul, the mortal dreads. I try to go into those places in me that contain the cauldrous. I want to dip up the fire, and I want to put it on paper. The closer I get to the burning core of my being, the things which are most painful to me, the better is my work.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1937, June 4

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940)

—an American author and short story writer

From his novel, The Great Gatsby:

  • “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
  • “I’ve been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library.” (says Owl Eyes; I find this hilarious.)
  • “‘Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge,’ I thought; ‘anything at all…’ Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder.'”
  • “‘I’m thirty,’ I said. ‘I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.'”

Thomas C. Foster

—an American author and professor of English at University of Michigan, Flint

From his book, How to Read Novels Like a Professor:

  • “We each bring a great deal of our own lives, our own perspectives, our own reading of other works, to each new novel that we’ll never see the same things.”
  • “Meaning in fiction is the result of a conspiracy between two minds and two imaginations.”
  • “Writing grows out of experience…So does reading.”

Khalil Gibran (1883 – 1931)

—a Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer

I don’t know the source of these but I like them:

  • “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
  • “If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.”
  • “Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, That we may record our emptiness.”
  • “I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

—an American author

From her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love:

  • “People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”
  • “This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”
  • “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
  • “Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.”
  • “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”
  • “Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.”

From her nonfiction book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear:

  • “When artists are burdened with the label of ‘genius,’ I think they lose the ability to take themselves lightly, or to create freely.”
  • “Creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience.”
  • “You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”
  • “No matter how great your teachers may be, and no matter how esteemed your academy’s reputation, eventually you will have to do the work by yourself.”
  • “Music is nothing more than decoration for the imagination.”
  • “My creative expression must be the most important thing in the world to me (if I am to live artistically), and it also must not matter at all (if I am to live sanely).”
  • “While it’s lovely to be childlike in your pursuit of creativity, in other words, it’s dangerous to be childish.”
  • “Slip away from everyone else at the party and go off to dance alone with your ideas in the dark.”
  • “What you produce is not necessarily always sacred, I realized, just because you think it’s sacred. What is sacred is the time that you spend working on the project, and what that time does to expand your imagination, and what that expanded imagination does to transform your life. The more lightly you can pass that time, the brighter your existence becomes.”

Natalie Goldberg

Natalie Goldberg

—an American author, poet, and painter

From her book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within:

  • “Learning to write is not a linear process. There is no logical A-to-B-to-C way to become a good writer.”
  • “Sit down with the least expectation of yourself; say ‘I am free to write the worst junk in the world.'”
  • “Keep your hand moving.”
  • “When it is time to write, write.”
  • “Writers, when they write, need to approach things for the first time each time.”
  • “We learn to write by doing it. That simple.”
  • “…this is how we should write…voraciously, letting our minds eat up everything and spewing it out on paper with great energy.”
  • “Let go of everything when you write, and try at a simple beginning with simple words to express what you have inside…let it come however it does. Don’t force it.”
  • “Learn to trust the force of your own voice.”
  • “Writing, too, is 90 percent listening. You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you.”
  • “Basically, if you want to become a good writer, you need to do three things. Read a lot, listen well and deeply, and write a lot.”
  • “It is the responsibility of writers to listen to gossip and pass it on. It is the way all storytellers learn about life.”

Alison Goodman

Alison Goodman

—an Australian author

From her novel, Eon:

  • “‘I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept, but I cannot live any other way.’” (says Lady Dela, a transwoman)
  • “There was a saying that a man’s true character was revealed in defeat. I thought it was also revealed in victory.”

photo of Paul Graham

Paul Graham

—programmer, writer, and investor; co-founder of Viaweb (which became Yahoo Store)

From his essay, “How to Do What You Love”:

  • “If you think something’s supposed to hurt, you’re less likely to notice if you’re doing it wrong. That about sums up my experience of graduate school.”
  • “The test of whether people love what they do is whether they’d do it even if they weren’t paid for it—even if they had to work at another job to make a living.”
  • “Constraints give your life shape. Remove them and most people have no idea what to do.”

John Green

—an American author of young adult novels

From his novel, The Fault In Our Stars:

  • “Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books…which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.”

Glenn Greenwald

—lawyer, journalist, and author

From his TED Talk, Why Privacy Matters:

  • “There are dozens of psychological studies that prove that when somebody knows that they might be watched, the behavior they engage in is vastly more conformist and compliant. Human shame is a very powerful motivator, as is the desire to avoid it, and that’s the reason why people, when they’re in a state of being watched, make decisions not that are the byproduct of their own agency but that are about the expectations that others have of them or the mandates of societal orthodoxy.”
  • “…mass surveillance creates a prison in the mind that is a much more subtle though much more effective means of fostering compliance with social norms or with social orthodoxy, much more effective than brute force could ever be.”
  • “What all of these seemingly disparate works recognize, the conclusion that they all reach, is that a society in which people can be monitored at all times is a society that breeds conformity and obedience and submission, which is why every tyrant, the most overt to the most subtle, craves that system.”
  • “…when we allow a society to exist in which we’re subject to constant monitoring, we allow the essence of human freedom to be severely crippled.”
  • “…the measure of how free a society is is not how it treats its good, obedient, compliant citizens, but how it treats its dissidents and those who resist orthodoxy.”


H. Rider Haggard (1856 – 1925)

—an English writer of adventure novels often set in Africa

From his novel She:

  • “…so I lay and watched the stars come out by thousands, till all the immense arch of heaven was strewn with glittering points, and every point a world! Here was a glorious sight by which man might well measure his own insignificance! Soon I gave up thinking about it, for the mind wearies easily when it strives to grapple with the Infinite, and to trace the footsteps of the Almighty as he strides from sphere to sphere, or deduce His purpose from His works. Such things are not for us to know. Knowledge is to the strong, and we are weak. Too much wisdom would perchance blind our imperfect sight, and too much strength would make us drunk, and overweight our feeble reason till it fell, and we were drowned in the depths of our own vanity.”
  • “If once I began to creep upon my knees I should always have to do so, and it would be a patent acknowledgement of inferiority.”
  • “Ah, how little knowledge does a man acquire in his life. He gathereth it up like water, but like water it runneth through his fingers, and yet, if his hands be but wet as though with dew, behold a generation of fools call out.”
  • “What is imagination? Perhaps it is the shadow of the intangible truth, perhaps it is the soul’s thought.”


Phil Hansen

—an American artist who used his limitation (a tremor in his hand) to create art in unconventional ways

From his TED Talk, “Embrace the Shake”:

  • “We need to first be limited in order to become limitless.”
  • “Learning to be creative within the confines of our limitations is the best hope we have to transform ourselves and collectively transform our world.”
  • “Limitations may be the most unlikely of places to harness creativity, but perhaps one of the best ways to get ourselves out of ruts, rethink categories, and challenge accepted norms.”

Rachel Hartman

—an American author of young-adult, fantasy novels

From her novel Shadow Scale:

  • “If you followed logic all the way back to its origin, did you inevitably end up at a point of illogic, an article of faith? Even an indisputable fact must be chosen as the place to start reasoning, given weight by a mind that believed in its worth.”


Robin Hobb (Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden)

—an American author of fantasy novels

From her novel Assassin’s Apprentice, the first installment in the Farseer trilogy:

  • “Is it the nature of the world that all things seek a rhythm, and in that rhythm a sort of peace? Certainly it has always seemed so to me. All events, no matter how earthshaking or bizarre, are diluted wuthin moments of their occurrence by the continuance of the necessary routines of day-to-day living.”
  • “A ruler must be of all his people, for one can only rule what one knows.”
  • “Most prisons are of our own making. A man makes his own freedom, too.”
  • “When you spring to an idea, and decide it is truth, without evidence, you blind yourself to other possibilities.”
  • “That is the trick of good government. To make folk desire to live in such a way that there is no need for its intervention.” [reminds me of an article I read in The Atlantic]
  • “For there is a very strange peace in giving over your judgement to someone else, to saying to them, ‘You lead and I will follow, and I will trust entirely that you will not lead me to death or harm.’”
  • “Sometimes…it is better to be defiantly wrong than silent.”

From her novel Royal Assassin, the second installment in the Farseer trilogy:

  • “Men of passion and vision are often seen as mad.”
  • “But we are two old men, who have grown old together. Sometimes that is a greater closeness. We have come through time to your day and age. We can talk together, quietly, and share memories of a time that exists no more.”
  • “Some things may be learned from words on a page, but some skills are learned first by a man’s hands and heart, and later by his head.”

From her novel Assassin’s Quest, the third installment in the Farseer trilogy:

  • “What the Wit may be is a man’s acceptance of the beast nature within himself, and hence an awareness of the element of humanity that every animal carries within it as well.”

John Oliver Hobbes

—pseudonym for Pearl Mary-Teresa Craigie, an Anglo-American novelist and playwright

I don’t know the source for this but I like it:

  • “Men heap together the mistakes of their lives and create a monster they call destiny.”

Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini

—an Afghan-American novelist and physician

From his novel, The Kite Runner:

  • “A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.”
  • “War doesn’t negate decency. It demands it, even more than in times of peace.”
  • “It may seem unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”
  • “Soraya. Swap Meet Princess. The morning sun to my yelda.”
  • “…time can be a greedy thing—sometimes it steals all the details for itself.”
  • “The desert weed lives on, but the flower of spring blooms and wilts.”
  • “A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer.”
  • “Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the VOLUME knob on life. / Silence is pushing the OFF button. Shutting it down. All of it.”

L. Ronald Hubbard (1911 – 1986)

—an American author of science fiction books and founder of the Church of Scientology

I do not know where these quotes are from but I like them:

  • “A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists.”
  • “Ideas and not battles mark the forward progress of mankind.”
  • “One’s attitude toward life makes every possible difference in one’s living. You know, you don’t have to study a thousand ancient books to discover that fact. But sometimes it needs to be pointed out again that life doesn’t change so much as you.”

Zora Neale Hurston, American author. Deutsch: ...

Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960)

—an African American author, folklorist, and anthropologist

From her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God:

  • “Ships at a distance have ever man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tides. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked by Time. That is the life of men.”
  • “She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight…Oh to be a pear tree—anytree in bloom! With kissing bees singing of the beginning of the world!”
  • “Every morning the world flung itself over and exposed the town to the sun.”
  • “She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over.”
  • “But stillness was the sleep of swords.”
  • “Insensate cruelty to those you can whip, and groveling submission to those you can’t…All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped. Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood.”
  • “…mysteries are the chores of gods.”
  • “Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”
  • “Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh themselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh themselves.”

English: Steve Jobs Macworld 2005 Deutsch: Ste...

Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)

—entrepreneur, inventor, co-founder and CEO of Apple, Inc.

From the commencement speech he gave at Stanford University on June 12, 2005:

  • “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan (1948 – 2007)

—an American author of fantasy novels

From his novel, New Spring:

  • “When a man believes he may die, he wants to leave something of himself behind. When a woman believes her man may die, she wants that part of him desperately. The result is a great many babies born during wars. It’s illogical, given the hardship that comes if the mad does die, or the woman, but the human heart is seldom logical.”
  • “Verin Sedai said that most mistakes made by rulers came from not knowing history; they acted in ignorance of the mistakes others had made before them.”
  • “Friends lightened many burdens, even those they did not know of.”
  • “Her father used to say that once was happenstance, twice might be coincidence, but thrice or more indicated the actions of your enemies.”

From his novel, The Eye of the World:

  • “Sometimes, sheepherder, stories make things larger than truth.”
  • “…when what they do is hidden, men sometimes deal with strangers in ways they wouldn’t if there were other eyes to see.”
  • “…violence harms the one who does it as much as the one who receives it…the mighty axe does violence to the helpless tree, and is harmed by it [it becomes dull]. So it is with men, though the harm is in the spirit.”
  • “Relax, lad. Take life as it comes. Run when you have to, fight when you must, rest when you can.”
  • “Fear will kill you if you don’t control it.”
  • “The Wheel of Time weaves the Pattern of the Ages, and lives are the threads it weaves.”

From his novel, The Great Hunt:

  • “A sword is dangerous to the man at the point, but not to the man at the hilt. Unless the man holding the sword is a fool, or careless, or unskilled, in which case it is twice as dangerous to him as to anyone else.”
  • “There is one rule, above all others, for being a man. Whatever comes, face it on your feet.”
  • “Everything is linked…whether it lives or not, whether it thinks or not, everything that is, fits together.”
  • “Some men…choose to seek greatness, while others are forced to it. It is always better to choose than to be forced. A man who’s forced is never completely his own master. He must dance on the strings of those who forced him.”
  • “…a stick and honey always work better than a stick alone.”

From his novel, The Dragon Reborn:

  • “Always plan for the worst, child; that way, all your surprises will be pleasant ones.”
  • “To lead…is neither to push nor to pull.”
  • “…if you break a tool so it cannot be fixed, you don’t weep over it. You just get another one.”
  • “A man is the easiest animal to put on a leash, and the hardest to keep leashed. Even when he chooses it himself.”
  • “You can turn the worst that comes to your advantage if you only think…”
  • “A woman clothed [has] more authority than the same woman naked…”
  • “If you can’t hide what you are going to do, do it so everybody thinks you are a fool.”
  • “For the young, death is an enemy they wish to try their strength against. For those of us a little older, she is an old friend, an old lover, but one we are not eager to meet again soon.”
  • “Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.”

From his novel, The Shadow Rising:

  • “The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.”
  • “…no one fears what is familiar as much as what is strange.”
  • “To believe a thing is not to make it true.”

Norton Juster

—an American architect and author of children’s books

From his novel The Phantom Tollbooth:

  • “But what of the Castle in the Air?….Let it drift away….And good riddance for no matter how beautiful it seems, it’s still nothing but a prison.”
  • “Words and numbers are of equal value, for, in the cloak of knowledge, one is warp and the other woof.”
  • “For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.”
  • “But it’s not just learning things that’s important. It’s learning what to do with what you learn and learning why you learn things at all that matters.”
  • “Many places you would like to see are just off the map and many things you want to know are just out of sight or a little beyond your reach. But someday you’ll reach them all, for what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow.”
  • “What you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do.”
  • “So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”

Paul Kalanithi

—an Indian-American neurosurgeon and writer

From his memoir, When Breath Becomes Air:

  • “No system of thought can contain the fullness of human experience.”
  • “Books became my closest confidants, finely ground lenses providing new views of the world.”
  • “I still felt literature provided the best account of the life of the mind, while neuroscience laid down the most elegant rules of the brain. Meaning, while a slippery concept, seemed inextricable from human relationships and moral values.”
  • “Literature not only illuminated another’s experience, it provided, I believed, the richest material for moral reflection.”
  • “Words began to feel as weightless as the breath that carried them.”
  • “The angst of facing mortality has no remedy in probability.”
  • “Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”

Bilge Karasu

Bilge Karasu

—a Turkish author and philosopher

From his novel A Long Day’s Evening:

  • “Yet to create something, one must first believe. Above all else, believe…”
  • “In order to chase after adventure, one must have a strong heart, courage, he must be able to unchain himself from habits; rather, he must avoid developing habits.”
  • “Solitude becomes all the more enjoyable when it isn’t compulsory.”
  • “Man is mortal, he might as well do something with his life…There’s no sense in waiting for death.”
  • “It’s good to take the difficult path if a person wants to know his character, test his strength, recognize the capacity of his will. Man must start with himself, first steel his being, before he can strive to accomplish anything.”

Caroline Kepnes

—an American author, journalist, and TV writer

From her novel You:

  • “Eye contact is what keeps us civilized.”
  • “I love Stephen King as much as any red rum drinking American, but I resent the fact that I, the bookseller, am his bitch.”
  • “The only thing crueler than a cage so small that a bird can’t fly is a cage so large that a bird thinks it can fly.”
  • “What a shame to be so angered by what you don’t have that you treat what you do have like it’s nothing.”
  • “…The problem with books is that they end. They seduce you. They spread their legs to you and pull you inside. And you go deep and leave your possessions and your ties to the world at the door and you like it inside and you don’t want for your possessions or your ties and then, the book evaporates.”

Stephen KingStephen King

—an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy (Wikipedia)

From his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft:

  • “Life isn’t a support system for art; it’s the other way around.”
  • “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
  • “Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.”
  • “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”
  • “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
  • “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
  • “…you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
  • “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

From his novel ‘Salem’s Lot:

  • “Being in the town is a daily act of utter intercourse, so complete that it makes what you and your wife do in the squeaky bed look like a handshake. Being in the town is prosaic, sensuous, alcoholic. And in the dark, the town is yours and you are the town’s and together you sleep like the dead, like the very stones in your north field. There is no life here but the slow death of days, and so when the evil falls on the town, its coming seems almost preordained, sweet and morphic. It is almost as though the town knows the evil was coming and the shape it would take.”
  • “Alone. Yes, that’s the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym.”
  • “Writing controlled fiction is called “plotting.” Buckling your seatbelt and letting the story take over, however…that is called “storytelling.” Storytelling is as natural as breathing; plotting is the literary version of artificial respiration.”
  • “Now she rested there herself, a first edition of a different kind, as mint as when she had first entered the world. Her binding, so to speak, had never even been cracked.”

Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon

—an American writer and artist

From his book, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative:

  • “…chew on one thinker—writer, artist, activist, role model—you really love. Study everything there is to know about that thinker. Then find three people that thinker loved, and find out everything about them. Repeat this as many times as you can.”
  • “…it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.”
  • “Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style…you want to see like your heroes.”
  • “Our failure to copy our heroes is where we discover where our own thing lives. That is how we evolve.”
  • “…find a way to bring your body into your work…motion kickstarts our brain into thinking.”
  • “When you open up your process and invite people in, you learn.”
  • “…show your appreciation without expecting anything in return…”
  • “…embrace your limitations and keep moving.”

Anthony Lane

—a British journalist and film critic for The New Yorker

From his movie review of “Boyhood” that appeared in The New Yorker:

  • “We happen upon ourselves when nothing much happens to us, and we are transformed in the process.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin

—an American author of fantasy and science fiction novels

From her novel, A Wizard of Earthsea:

  • “…the wise man is one who never sets himself apart from other living things, whether they have speech or not…”
  • “War as a moral metaphor is limited, limiting, and dangerous. By reducing the choices of action to “a war against” whatever-it-is, you divide the world into Me or Us (good) and Them or It (bad) and reduce the ethical complexity and moral richness of our life to Yes/No, On/Off.” [from the Afterword]

From her novel, The Tombs of Atuan:

  • “…it is no use trying to open a door until you know how the door is opened.”
  • “She wept in pain because she was free…Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake…It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one.”

From her novel, The Farthest Shore:

  • “To deny the past is to deny the future. A man does not make his destiny; he accepts it or denies it.”
  • “…when we crave power over life—wealth, unassailable safety, immortality—then desire becomes greed. And if knowledge allies itself to that greed, then comes evil.”
  • “Yet we were rescued by that fancy, and our lives saved by a myth.” [I love this statement, said by Ged when they ran into the raft-folk.]
  • “And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose…That selfhood which is our torment, and our treasure, and our humanity, does not endure. It changes; it is gone, a wave on the sea.”
  • “Yet the truth varies with the man.”
  • “A writer lives and works in the world she was born into, and no matter how firn her own purpose, or how seemingly far from the present day her subject, she and her work are subject to the changing winds and currents of that world.” [from the Afterword]

Lauren Leto

Lauren Leto

—an American author and co-founder of Texts From Last Night, a humor blog

From her book, Judging a Book By Its Lover:

  • “People aren’t fully formed yet in middle school, they’re just globs of hormones and wandering personality traits gained through osmosis from pop culture, with senses of humor consisting entirely of canned lines from funny movies.”

Sarah Lewis

Sarah Lewis

—a writer, art historian, and curator

From her TED Talk, “Embrace the Near Win”:

  • “We thrive not when we’ve done it all, but when we still have more to do.”
  • “We build out of the unfinished idea, even if that idea is our former self.”
  • “Completion is a goal but we hope it is never the end.”

Sterling Lord

Sterling Lord

—a literary agent who has worked in publishing for 60+ years and represented Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, and the Berenstain family. He is founder and co-chairman of Sterling Lord Literistic.

From his memoir, Lord of Publishing:

  • “…the first area in publishing open to women was work in a literary agency.”
  • “My finding is that any agent who doesn’t take on new clients is probably on the way out of business.”
  • “Books are no longer bought by publishers on the basis of one editor’s commitment. The editor and sometimes even the publisher have to check with other editors, advertising, sales, promotion, or a higher authority, or all of the above. It’s ‘committee publishing.'”
  • “What you should do as early in life as you can is find an occupation or line of work in a field that really interests you.”

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry

—an American author of children’s and young adult novels

From her novel, The Giver:

  • “After a life of Sameness and predictability, he was awed by the surprises that lay beyond each curve of the road.”
  • “The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”
  • “The man that I named The Giver passed along to the boy knowledge, history, memories, color, pain, laughter, love, and truth. Every time you place a book in the hands of a child, you do the same thing.”

Apoorva Mandavilli

—a science journalist and adjunct professor at New York University

From her article, “Alone in a Room Full of Science Writers,” on Medium.com:

  • “You can never overestimate how empowering it is to see someone who looks like you—only older and more successful. That, much more than well-meaning advice and encouragement, tells you that you can make it.”


Emily St. John Mandel

—a Canadian novelist

From his science-fiction novel Station Eleven:

  • “In the en suite bathroom, Kirsten closed her eyes for just a second as she flipped the light switch. Naturally nothing happened, but as always in these moments she found herself straining to remember what it had been like when this motion had worked: walk into a room, flip a switch and the room floods with light.”
  • “In Traverse City, the town they’d recently left, an inventor had rigged an electrical system in an attic. It was modest in scope, a stationary bicycle that when pedaled vigorously could power a laptop, but the inventor had grandeur aspirations: the point wasn’t actually the electrical system, the point was that he was looking for the Internet. A few of the younger Symphony members had felt a little thrill when he’d said this, remembered the stories they’d been told about WiFi and the impossible-to-imagine Cloud, wondered if the Internet might still be out there somehow, invisible pinpricks of light suspended in the air around them.”
  • “The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored.”
  • “If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?”
  • “Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”
  • “First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

The prolific author Gabriel García Márquez.

Gabriel García Márquez (1927 – 2014)

—a Colombian author, screenwriter, and journalist

From his novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude:

  • “…Aureliano skipped eleven pages so as not to lose time with facts he knew only too well, and he began to decipher the instant that he was living, deciphering it as he lived it, prophesying himself in the act of deciphering the last page of the parchments, as if he were looking into a speaking mirror.”
  • “The uncertainty of the future made them turn their hearts toward the past.”
  • “Wherever they might be they always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end.”
  • “…time was not passing…it was turning in a circle…”
  • “He really had been through death, but he had returned because he could not bear the solitude.”
  • “It’s enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.”
  • “Lost in the solitude of his immense power, he began to lose direction.”

George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

—an American author and short story writer of fantasy and science fiction

From his novel A Game of Thrones:

  • “…the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.”
  • “A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is.”
  • “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
  • “We all need to be mocked from time to time, Lord Mormont, lest we start to take ourselves too seriously.”
  • “Know the men who follow you and let them know you. Don’t ask your men to die for a stranger.”
  • “Minds are like swords, I do fear. The old ones go to rust.”
  • “Folly and desperation are ofttimes hard to tell apart.”
  • “A king should never sit easy.”
  • “The man who fears losing has already lost.”
  • “There is no creature on earth half so terrifying as a truly just man.”
  • “…love is the bane of honor, the death of duty…We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

From his novel A Clash of Kings:

  • “Crowns do queer things to the heads beneath them.”
  • “Schemes are like fruit, they require a certain ripening.”
  • “Power resides where men believe it resides.”
  • “Sorcery is the sauce fools spoon over failure to hide the flavor of their own incompetence.”
  • “If you can’t protect yourself, die and get out of the way of those who can.”

Tiffany McDaniel

—an American poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist

From her debut novel, The Summer That Melted Everything:

  • “The moment I fell, my wings wilted like roses left too long in the vase. The misery of the bare back is to live after flight, to be the low that will never again rise. I would die anew just to fly again. I would kill God for a pair of wings.”
  • “Pressure to be that hero, that god who could be only at the sacrifice of his true self. Sometimes I think older brothers should not be allowed. We fall in love with them too much. They are our everything, all the while, they hurt out of sight for our sake.”
  • “It’s a gasoline betrayal when the romance of your lover becomes a separate energy from you. It lessens your significance as lover. As man.”
  • “‘You know, some people’ — he looked off into the distance — ‘you love them because they remind you of the best moments of your life.'”

Alexa Meade - Double Take

Alexa Meade

—an artist who paints on living subjects

From her TED Talk, “You Body is My Canvas“:

  • “…you can find the strange in the familiar. As long as you’re willing to look beyond what’s already been brought to light, then you can see what’s below the surface, hiding in the shadows, and recognize that there can be more there than meets the eye.”

English: Photo of author Robin McKinley

Robin McKinley

—an American author of fantasy and young adult novels

From her novel, The Blue Sword:

  • “She felt a fool, let loose, however involuntarily, in a highly organized community which now wished to organize her too: like the grain of sand that gets into an oyster’s shell. What if the grain doesn’t want to become a pearl? Is it ever asked to climb out quietly and take up its old position as a bit of ocean floor?”
  • “…for even a small herd is better than solitude.”
  • “Teachers are always vain of the students who go on to do great things.”
  • “You are attempting to be logical, I suspect, and logic has little to do with government, and nothing at all to do with military administration.”
  • “The wind sniggered around the rocks, but overhead it flung itself, laughing shrilly, through the mountains, into the quiet planes of Damar, bearing with it the inhuman whispers and moans of the Northern army.”

Erin Morgenstern

—an American multimedia artist and author

From her debut novel, The Night Circus, a young-adult fantasy novel:

  • “When she opens her eyes, they are standing on the quarterdeck of a ship in the middle of the ocean. Only the ship is made of books, its sails thousands of overlapping pages, and the sea it floats upon is dark black ink.”
  • “This is not magic. This is the way the world is, only very few people take the time to stop and note it… They want to believe that magic is nothing but clever deception, because to think it real would keep them up at night, afraid of their own existence.”
  • “The finest pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”
  • “I prefer to remain unenlightened, to better appreciate the dark.”
  • “You’re in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that’s enough.”
  • “The truest tales require time and familiarity to become what they are.”
  • “I find I think of myself not as a writer so much as someone who provides a gateway, a tangential route for readers to reach the circus. To visit the circus again, if only in their minds, when they are unable to attend it physically. I relay it through printed words on crumpled newsprint, words that they can read again and again, returning to the circus whenever they wish, regardless of time of day or physical location. Transporting them at will. When put that way, it sounds rather like magic, doesn’t it?”

Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley

—an African American author who’s best known for his crime fiction, such as Devil in a Blue Dress

From the By the Book section of the New York Times:

  • “…the first time the reader works her way through the volume it’s more like a first date than a one-time encounter. If the person was uninteresting (not worthwhile) there’s no need for a repeat performance, but if they have promise, good humor, hope or just good manners, you might want to have a second sit-down, a third. There might be something irksome about that rendezvous that makes you feel that you have something to work out. There might be a hint of eroticism suggesting the possibility of a tryst or even marriage.”

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami

—a Japanese writer

From advice he shared on his website Mr. Murakami’s Place:

  • “Writing is similar to trying to seduce a woman. A lot has to do with practice, but mostly it’s innate. Anyway, good luck.”
  • “….You have to be mindful when you’re writing something. I keep in mind to ‘not have the pen get too mighty’ when I write. I choose my words so the least amount of people get hurt, but that’s also hard to achieve. No matter what is written, there is a chance of someone getting hurt or offending someone. Keeping all that in mind, I try as much as I can to write something that will not hurt anyone. This is a moral every writer should follow.But at the same time, when you need to fight a battle, you also need to reserve energy to be able to fight. Something like what you use to tighten your stomach. But that’s only when you really need to. If you recklessly make the pen mightier than the sword, you’re putting yourself in danger. That’s my personal opinion. Some may think otherwise.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

—a German philosopher

From his book Beyond Good and Evil:

  • “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”

Anaïs Nin

—a French author of short stories and novels

  • “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Mary Norris

Mary Norris

—an American author and a copy editor at The New Yorker

From her memoir, Between You and Me:

  • “A misspelling undermines your authority.”
  • “Job of copy editor is to spell words right: put hyphen in, take hyphen out. Repeat. Respect other meaning of spell: spell writer weaves.”
  • “You had to be willing to admit that you are capable of missing something or you would not catch what you’d missed.”
  • “A lot of decisions you have to make as a copy editor are subjective.”
  • “So much of copy editing is about not going beyond your province.”


Nnedi Okorafor

—a Nigerian American author of fantasy and science-fiction novels

From her young-adult fantasy novel Akata Witch:

  • “Home will never be the same once you know what you are.”
  • “Prejudice begets prejudice, you see. Knowledge does not always evolve into wisdom.”
  • “Men always blame the woman when a child dissatisfies him.”


Ruth Ozeki

—an American Canadian author and filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest

From her memoir A Time Code:

  • “I understood that identity is fluid, that it exists on a spectrum, and that to some extent, I had a choice about where I fell.”
  • “What makes a face so special? It’s just an organizational device. A planar surface hpusing a cluster of holes, a convenient gathering place for the sense organs.”
  • “Name is face to all the world.”
  • “Making familiar things strange is the job of the artist.”
  • “Although lacking the brocade and elements of ancient sacred ritual, a novel can be a kind of mirror room, too. It, too, is a liminal space, silent, bound by certain rituals and full of magic. The writer enters and seats herself in front of her reflection in the mirror. She collects herself and focuses her attention, and then she picks up a mask. She gazes at it and positions it on her face, and at that moment she is transformed into the protagonist of her story, looking out through its eyes at her reflection in the mirror, made strange by the face of another.”
  • “This is why we read novels, after all, to see our reflections transformed, to enter another’s subjectivity, to wear another’s face, to live inside another’s skin.”

Christopher Paolini

—an American author of young adult, fantasy novels

From his novel, Eragon:

  • “To know who you are without any delusions or sympathy is a moment of revelation that no one experiences unscathed.”
  • “Respect the past; you never know how it may affect you.”
  • “What is the worth of anything we do? The worth is in the act. Your worth halts when you surrender the will to change and experience life.”
  • “…only the resolute find their identity…”
  • “Sometimes I wonder if we can ever understand the true motives of the people around us. They all seem to have secrets. It is the way of the world. Ignore all the schemes and trust in the nature of each person.”
  • “These books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.”
  • “If you can’t understand your enemies, how can you expect to anticipate them?”
  • “The real courage is in living and suffering for what you believe.”
  • “Knowing is independent of being.”
  • “Before you can defend yourself, you have to understand the exact nature of the forces directed at you.”

Stephanie Perkins

Stephanie Perkins

—an American author of young-adult, contemporary novels

From her novel Anna and the French Kiss:

  • “The translator, no matter how true he thinks he’s staying to the text, still brings his own life experiences and opinions to the decisions he makes. Maybe not consciously, but every time a choice is made between one meaning of a word or another, the translator determines which one to use based on what he believes is correct, based on his own personal history with the subject.”
  • “It’s strange. Home. How I could wish for it for so long, only to come back and find it gone. To be here, in my technical house, and discover that home is now someplace different. But that’s not quite right either. I miss Paris, but it’s not home….Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?”
  • “The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”

Henri Poincaré (1854 – 1912)

—a French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and philosopher

I found this quote in Rick Yancey’s novel The Curse of the Wendigo (see below):

  • “Logic sometimes breeds monsters.”

Terry Pratchett (April 1948 - March 2015)

Terry Pratchett (1948 – 2015)

—a British author of fantasy novels; he’s best known for the Discworld series

I do not know when and where he said these. (Read this Guardian article for more.):

  • “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.”
  • “Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.”
  • “I have no use for people who have learned the limits of the possible.”


Joe Queenan

—an American journalist, cultural critic, and humorist

From his book, One for the Books:

  • “A reading life, a friend once told me, is an adventure without maps where you meet unexpected soulmates along the way.”
  • “People who prefer e-books…think that books merely take up space. This is true, but so do your children and Prague and the Sistine Chapel.”
  • “If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it’s probably because at some level you find ‘reality’ a bit of a disappointment.”
  • “Because to the poor, books are not diversions. Book are siege weapons.”
  • “He used books the same way he used alcohol: to pretend that he was not here, and if he was here, that he was happy for a change.”

Sara Raasch

—an American author of young-adult, fantasy novels

From her novel Snow Like Ashes:

  • “Sometimes placing our belief in something bigger than ourselves helps us get to a point where we can be enough on our own.”

Leah Raeder

—an American author of new-adult, contemporary novels

From her novel Unteachable:

  • “Here’s a history of the world: Girl meets boy. Girl fucks boy. Girl gets scared and skips out on boy. Boy builds civilization to lure girl back.”
  • “Part of falling in love with someone is actually falling in love with yourself. Realizing that you’re gorgeous, you’re fearless and unpredictable, you’re a firecracker spitting light, entrancing a hundred faces that stare up at you with starry eyes.”
  • “That’s how you know someone loves you. When they want you to be happy even in the part of your life they’ll never see.”
  • “You should love something while you have it, love it fully and without reservation, even if you know you’ll lose it someday. We lose everything. If you’re trying to avoid loss, there’s no point in taking another breath, or letting your heart beat one more time. It all ends.”

Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan

—an American author of young adult/children’s, fantasy novels

From his novel, The House of Hades:

  • “But magic is neither good nor evil. It is a tool, like a knife. Is a knife evil? Only if the wielder is evil.”
  • “[Love] is hard work—a quest that never ends. It demands everything from you—especially the truth. Only then does it yield rewards.”

Ken Robinson

—a British author, speaker, and international advisor on education in the arts (Wikipedia)

From his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything:

  • “Lucky people tend to maximize chance opportunities. They are especially adept at creating, noticing, and acting upon these opportunities when they arise. Second, they tend to be very effective at listening to their intuition, and do work (such as meditation) that is designed to boost their intuitive abilities. The third principle is that lucky people tend to expect to be lucky, creating a series of self-fulfilling prophecies because they go into the world anticipating a positive outcome. Last, lucky people have an attitude that allows them to turn bad luck to good. They don’t allow ill fortune to overwhelm them, and they move quickly to take control of the situation when it isn’t going well for them.”
  • “Never underestimate the vital importance of finding early in life the work that for you is play. This turns possible underachievers into happy warriors.” – Paul Samuelson, an American economist
  • “What is true is that if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
  • “How we perceive our circumstances and how we create and take opportunities depends largely on what we expect of ourselves.”
  • “When we are in our Element, we feel we are doing what we are meant to be doing and being who we’re meant to be.”
  • “…it is easier to overcome people’s judgment than to overcome our own self-judgment, the fear we internalize.” –Arianna Huffington, a Greek-American writer and founder of The Huffington Post
  • “…it’s not what happens to us that determines out lives—it’s what we make of what happens.”

JK Rowling

J.K. Rowling (Robert Galbraith)

—a British author best known for the Harry Potter series

From various novels in the Harry Potter series:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

  • “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
  • “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”
  • “Nobody missed me even when I was alive. Took them hours and hours to find my body – I know, I was sitting there waiting for them.”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

  • “Youth cannot know how age things and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”
  • “Indifference and neglect often do more damage than outright dislike.”
  • “The thing about growing up with Fred and George…is that you sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”
  • “You see, Dumbledore?…Never try to understand the students. They hate it. They would much rather be tragically misunderstood, wallow in self-pity, stew in their own…”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

  • “Killing rips the soul apart.”
  • “He could not let anybody else stand between him and Voldemort; he must abandon forever the illusion he ought to have lost at the age of one, that the shelter of a parent’s arms meant that nothing could hurt him.”
  • “Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.”
  • “From this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork.”
  • “Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress?”
  • “Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.”
  • “It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”

Gretchen Rubin

—an American author, blogger, and speaker

From her book Better Than Before:

  • “We can build our habits only on the foundation of our own nature.”
  • “Once we decide that we’ve achieved success, we tend to stop moving forward.”
  • “Self-measurement brings self-awareness, and self-awareness strengthens our self-control.”

Norman Rush

—an American author and short story writer

I do not know the original source for this one:

  • “Literature is humanity talking to itself.”


Gavriel Savit

—an American actor and author

From his debut novel, Anna and the Swallow Man, a young-adult magical-realism novel:

  • “Little girls tend to humanize great men.”
  • “The practice of lying is concerned with attempting to overlay a thin paper substitute atop the world that exists in order that it seem to suit your purposes. But the Swallow Man didn’t need the world to suit him. He could make himself suit whatever world it pleased him to agree existed.”
  • “Men who try to understand the world without the help of children are like men who try to bake bread without the help of yeast.”
  • “People…are more confident in their decisions when they think they have changed their own minds.”
  • “Our weapons are knowledge and observation and patience and time, and given enough of those last two, our weapons will always prevail.”
  • “Regret is like golden jewelry: at the proper moment it may prove immeasurably valuable, but it is rarely wise to advertise its presence to strangers.”
  • “A word is a tiny moment of time devoted to the conjuring aloud of some small corner of what is.”

Dan Simmons

—an American author of science fiction and horror novels

From his horror novel Song of Kali:

  • “I think there are black holes in reality. Black holes in the human spirit. And actual places where, because of density or misery or sheer human perversity, the fabric of things just comes apart and that black core in us swallows all the rest.”


Simon Sinek

—known for “The Golden Circle” concept; author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

From his first Ted Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”:

  • “If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.”
  • “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.”
  • “Those who start with why that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.”

Rebecca Skloot

—a freelance science writer who specializes in science and medicine. She wrote The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Advice given to her by her undergrad writing instructor:

  • “Letting go of a goal doesn’t mean you’ve failed, as long as you have a new goal in its place. That’s not giving up, it’s changing directions, which can be one of the most important things you do in life.”


Andrew Solomon

—a writer on politics, culture, and psychology

From his TED Talk, “How the Worst Moments in Our Lives Make Us Who We Are”:

  • “Forge meaning and build identity: Forging meaning is about changing yourself; building identity is about changing the world.”
  • “We don’t seek the painful experiences that hew our identities, but we seek our identities in the wake of painful experiences.”
  • “We cannot bear a pointless torment, but we can endure great pain if we believe that it’s purposeful.”
  • “Ease makes less of an impression on us than struggle.”
  • “We could have been ourselves without our delights, but not without the misfortunes that drive our search for meaning.”
  • “Identity itself should be not a smug label or a gold medal but a revolution.”

Emma Thompson

—a British actress, screenwriter, and author

I have no idea what the original source is but I found it in one of Becky’s Quoting the Quill posts:

  • “I think books are like people, in the sense that they’ll turn up in your life when you most need them.”

Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

—an American writer, poet, philosopher, and abolitionist

I found this quote in Rick Yancey’s novel The Curse of the Wendigo (see below):

  • “Men are probably nearer the essential truth in their superstitions than in their science.”

Mark Tompkins

—an American author

From his novel The Last Days of Magic:

  • “Whoever controls literacy controls history, and the future.”

Michelle Valois

—professor of English and chair of liberal arts and sciences and general studies at Mount Wachusett Community College

From her article, “From Imagination to Truth“:

  • “A work of the imagination is inherently an untruth, yet it is one that reveals a truth.”
  • “A work of the imagination, while revealing truth, prioritizes meaning over truth.”

Brian K. Vaughan

—an American comic book and television writer

From his comic book series Saga, Vol. 1:

  • “When a man carries an instrument of violence, he’ll always find the justification to use it.”
  • “Most of my childhood was spent clinging to the feathers of a dulled arrow blindly fired across a starless night.”

Jules Verne

Jules Verne

—a French poet, playwright, and author of science fiction novels

From his novel Journey to the Center of the Earth:

  • “Whoever shuts himself up between four walls soon loses the power to bring words and ideas together.”
  • “As a general rule one scholar greets another with coolness.”
  • “Science, my boy, is built on errors, but errors which it’s good to commit because they gradually lead to the truth.”
  • “The point is not to explain facts, but to benefit from them!”
  • “As long as the heart beats, as long as the flesh pulsates, I can’t admit that any creature endowed with willpower needs to be overwhelmed by despair.”

Nayyirah Waheed

—a poet

From her book of poems salt.:

  • “i bleed / every month. / but / do not die. / how am I / not / magic. / — the lie”
  • “you broke the ocean in / half to be here. / only to meet nothing that wants you. / — immigrant”
  • “take the art. / slice it from their skin. / leave the color behind. / — flower crowns and bob marley t-shirts”
  • “i am a black wave / in / a white sea. / always seen / and / unseen. / — the difference”
  • “why can we never / talk / about the blood. / the blood of our ancestors. / the blood of our history. / the blood between our legs. / — blood”

Annie Weatherwax Author, artist2

Annie Weatherwax

—a visual artist and writer

From her Op-Ed piece, “The Art of Fiction Writing,” in the Publisher’s Weekly’s Soapbox section:

  • “I learned how to write fiction by understanding the language of visual art.”
  • “Fiction writing for me has much more to do with the disciplined skill of seeing than with the study of literature. Seeing has little to do with language. In fact, true seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees. It is looking at a piece of paper and seeing a tree, then seeing the man who chopped it down, his hands, his face, how he walks. Hidden inside those visual details is the story of his life.”
  • “Body language can reveal more about character than almost any other detail.”
  • “The process of finding a character in a hunk of clay is the same as finding a story on a blank page. You must work a piece from all angles and recognize the danger of focusing too quickly on details when the structure and form have not yet been fully established.”

Andy Weir

—an American author

From his debut novel, The Martian:

  • “My asshole is doing as much to keep me alive as my brain.”
  • “But now there was nothing. I never realized how utterly silent Mars is. It’s a desert world with practically no atmosphere to convey sound. I could hear my own heartbeat.”
  • “This frigid desert has been my home for a year and a half. I figured out how to survive, at least for a while, and I got used to how things worked. My terrifying struggle to stay alive became somehow routine.”
  • “And the deeper into the book I got, the more excited I became, because I found that I was arriving at that place writers dream of: I was coming up with plot twists that genuinely surprised me, yet felt totally organic to the situation I’d dreamed up.” [From an essay by Weir in the end pages of the e-copy I read.]

Kurtis J. Wiebe

—a Canadian comic book writer

From his comic book series Rat Queens, Vol. 1:

  • “Doubt isn’t weakness in faith, mother, it’s wisdom in spite of it.”

Richard Wright (1908 – 1960)

—an African American author and poet; some of his well-known works are Native Son and his autobiography Black Boy

From his novel, Native Son:

  • “He shut their voices out of his mind. He hated his family because he knew that they were suffering and that he was powerless to help them. He knew that the moment he allowed himself to feel to its fulness how they lived, the shame and misery of their lives, he would be swept out of himself with fear and despair. So he held toward them an attitude of iron reserve; he lived with them, but behind a wall, a curtain. And toward himself he was even more exacting. He knew that the moment he allowed what his life meant to enter fully into his consciousness, he would either kill himself or someone else. So he denied himself and acted tough.”
  • ‘ “Bigger, you’re going to die. And if you die, die free. You’re trying to believe in yourself. And every time you try to find a way to live, your own mind stands in the way. You know why that is? It’s because others have said you were bad and they made you live in bad conditions. When a man hears that over and over and looks about him and sees that his life is bad, he begins to doubt his own mind. His feelings drag him forward and his mind, full of what others say about him, tells him to go back. The job in getting people to fight and have faith is in making them believe in what life has made them feel, making them feel that their feelings are as good as those of others.” ‘
  • “…his courage to live depended upon how successfully his fear was hidden from his consciousness.”
  • “Exalted by the will to rule, they could not have built nations on so vast a scale had they not shut their eyes to the humanity of other men, men whose lives were necessary for their building.”
  • “Of all things, men do not like to feel that they are guilty of wrong, and if you make them feel guilt, they will try desperately to justify it on any grounds; but, failing that, and seeing no immediate solution that will set things right without too much cost to their lives and property, they will kill that which evoked in them the condemning sense of guilt.”
  • “The job in getting people to fight and have faith is in making them believe in what life has made them feel, making them feel that their feelings are as good as those of others.”


Rick Yancey

—an American author of young-adult fantasy and science-fiction books

From his novel The Monstrumologistthe first installment in the Monstrumologist series:

  • “We populate our nightmares with the wrong carnivores. Consider it: The lowly maggot consumes more raw flesh than lions, tigers, and wolves combined.”
  • “There are times when fear is not our enemy. There are times when fear is our truest, sometimes only, friend.”
  • “So often the monsters that crowd our minds are nothing more than the strange and thoroughly alien progeny of our own fearful fantasies.”
  • “And then, like some nightmarish leviathan rising from the deep, the broad shoulders broke the undulating earth, those terrible unblinking black eyes glittering in the glancing glow of the torch, the yawning maw stuffed with three-inch fangs in the middle of the creature’s triangular torso snapping as a shark’s when excited by the scent of blood in the water.”
  • “Self-pity is egotism undiluted, after all — self-centeredness in its purest form.”
  • “Memories can bring comfort to the old and infirm, but memories can also be implacable foes, a malicious army of temporal ghosts forever pillaging the long-sought-after peace of our twilight years.”

From his novel The Curse of the Wendigo, the second installment in the Monstrumologist series:

  • “Even the hardest cynic is gullible to his own lies.”
  • “It is the romantic ballad of death’s embrace; the solemn hymn of offal dripping from bloody teeth; the lamentation of the bloated corpse rotting in the sun; and the graceful ballet of maggots twisting in the ruins of God’s temple.”
  • “The cold stars spun to the ancient rhythm, the august march of an everlasting symphony.”
  • “We have gone far in our public places to push death aside, to consign it to a dusty corner, but in the wilderness it is ever present. It is the lover who makes life. The sensuous, entwined limbs of predator and prey, the orgasmic death cry, the final spasmodic rush of blood, and even the soundless insemination of the earth by the fallen tree and crumbling leaf; these are the caresses of life’s beloved, the indispensable other.”

17 thoughts on “Pop Out Quotes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.