If you don’t have an easy time coming up with these words on your own or if you’re in the mood for some literary inspiration, you are in so much luck. What have authors written about for centuries, if not love? Not much, that’s what, so there are plenty of quotes out there to get you started if you’re stuck.
Some of my favorite memories of past loves have to do with the letters, quotes, and heartfelt sharing of words — and I doubt that I’m alone in this. One of my favorite memories is of the only time a boyfriend spontaneously recited poetry to me. He got big points not just for doing it at all, but because he picked my favorite poet, Walt Whitman, without knowing this fact about me. The poem, “Once I Pass’d Through a Populous City,” was appropriate for how we met and where we lived:
Yet now, of all that city, I remember only a woman I casually met there, who detain’d me for love of me;
Day by day and night by night we were together, — All else has long been forgotten by me;
I remember, I say, only that woman who passionately clung to me;
Again we wander — we love — we separate again;
Again she holds me by the hand — I must not go!
He got major points for this, and although I haven’t seen him in many years, I doubt that I’ll ever forget it. And no matter where we go in life or who we have beside us at any given time, there’s really nothing better than a sweet memory of a time someone told you he or she loved you. It’s best to hear it in their own words, of course, but a little bit of inspiration from the masters never hurt anyone.
20 of the most beautiful quotes about love from literature:
20 Best Valentine’s Day Quotes from Books 1 of 21
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster 2 of 21
Ah, A Room with a View. I love the book, and in the case of this adaptation, loved the movie, too. True story: the film gave me big and lasting crushes on Julian Sands and Daniel Day-Lewis. Throw in Florence, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and it's easy to believe that love lasts forever.
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran 3 of 21
So true. Ever tried to control the outcome of a crush or a deeper relationship? Just me? Never works. But I have done things I never thought I'd do for love, with varied results. It's nice to be older and wiser.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 4 of 21
Have you read The Fault in Our Stars yet? The film is due out in June, so it's a good time to catch up with John Green's sad, beautiful story about keeping promises.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 5 of 21
The best and most beautiful things have happened to me out of the blue. You? Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist is a story about people and situations conspiring to help seemingly impossible things — like love — come true.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 6 of 21
Ah, Catherine and Heathcliff. Do you believe in soul mates? I don't think you can have one without the other, so the answer for me is "Yes."
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks 7 of 21
The Notebook ranks among the top books-turned-movies about love, commitment, and sacrifice for many people. "Despite our differences" sums up much of what's important about love, really. No one is going to be a carbon copy of you, and acceptance matters to everyone. (I wonder how many people are re-watching this on Valentine's Day?)
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin 8 of 21
Who says there isn't love in science fiction? Not Ursula K. Le Guin. The Lathe of Heaven is about a man whose dreams can alter reality, and I do believe this quote to be true. People change. Love changes. It's what we do with it along the way that matters.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 9 of 21
Mr. Darcy. Sigh. By the time he allowed himself to tell Elizabeth how he felt, every Pride and Prejudice reader and viewer has been well past ready. It's still beautiful every time it happens, though.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 10 of 21
Everyone should read Anna Karenina, and to this line from Tolstoy's classic novel, I say: "Preach." Love may be a universal experience, but nothing feels more personal and like it belongs to us alone. When it's good — that's a beautiful thing, but when it's bad — it hurts! It's important to remember that this is true of every single human heart, not just our own.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling 11 of 21
Severus Snape may not have been a nice guy on the surface, but not all things — or people — are what they seem. This pure expression of his love for Harry Potter's mother, Lily, is one of the most beautiful I've ever read. Some things are for always.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien 12 of 21
This is true love, isn't it? Talk about commitment. Lots of stories have set the promise of immortality up against the cost of leaving mortal love behind. I'm actually pretty grateful that I'll probably never have to make that call.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins 13 of 21
Sometimes you just need someone to tell you the truth about how they feel. It saves everyone a lot of time and trouble in the end.
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne 14 of 21
This Winnie the Pooh quote is really popular, but I must admit that I'm a little conflicted. Someone has to be sad when love is lost, right? I think it's a more loving act to stick around and keep the other person from suffering. I'm glad I'm not in charge of the time-space continuum.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 15 of 21
Ah, the tortures of crushes. They're particularly poignant around Valentine's Day, aren't they? Let's hope that at least once, the one we love and the one who loves us are the same person. Fingers crossed.
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway 16 of 21
A Farewell to Arms was my introduction to Hemingway's love stories, and I'm an eternally big fan. I love this idea of rediscovering a loved one, too. It's happened to me, and I have to say, sometimes it's even better the second time around. Perspective and time are great teachers.
Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote 17 of 21
Truman Capote had the range to create In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's and to leave us with this insight into the limitlessness of love. I believe in this. My mom has said "Love always find its way" my whole life, and although sometimes I have doubts, I always end up knowing it's true.
The Illustrated Rumi by Rumi 18 of 21
I love this Rumi quote. If I'm going to take guidance where love is concerned, I figure it may as well come from an ancient mystic, and isn't this true, anyway? "The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you." So lovely.
Touched by an Angel by Maya Angelou 19 of 21
Maya Angelou is one of our world's great poets and observers of the human condition, so I'm inclined to take her insights to heart. Like many people, I'm sure, I've mistaken dependence or infatuation for love. However, I know now that the only kind of love worth having is the kind that frees us to be who we are and to move through the world in happiness and in good company. That's good, big love.
Atonement by Ian McEwan 20 of 21
Who doesn't want to be loved like this at least once in their life? Atonement is a story of deep love and consequences. It's worth a read if you haven't checked it out yet.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 21 of 21
The Little Prince shows love in its purest forms — of help, of friendship, of simple human affection. The fox teaches the Little Prince a great truth — that what he has done for his rose is the most important thing. Even if no one ever sees his sacrifice, it is important. I love this book. It's one of the truly great love stories that has nothing really to do with romance.
All images by Laurie White