Pop Culture

The 12 Best Bookish Quotes from You’ve Got Mail

Christy Childers

Staff Writer

Christy Childers is a writer obsessed with books, travel, British television, & superheroes. She has lived in Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, & England, & is never happier than when she's visiting a new country or reading a new book. Blog: Postcards to Authors Twitter: ChildersChristy

While we at the Riot take some time off to rest and catch up on our reading, we’re re-running some of our favorite posts from the last several months. Enjoy our highlight reel, and we’ll be back with new stuff on Tuesday, January 3rd.

This post originally ran October 5, 2016.


I contend that You’ve Got Mail is the most quotable movie of all time. At the very least, it’s the film most often quoted by ME.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this, especially among readers. We love Nora Ephron and her whole ode to “the little bookstore.”

You’ve Got Mail came out in 1998 and it’s still as good as ever. It’s erudite, and witty, and so very quotable.

So without further ado, here are the 12 best bookish quotes from good old You’ve Got Mail.


“Confession: I have read Pride and Prejudice two hundred times. I get lost in the language, words like: Thither. Mischance. Felicity. I am always in agony over whether Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are really going to get together. Read it! I know you’ll love it.”


Joe Fox’s dad: “Perfect. Keep those West Side liberal nuts, pseudo-intellectuals…”

Joe Fox: “Readers, dad. They’re called readers.”

Joe Fox’s dad: “Don’t do that, son. Don’t romanticize them.”


George: The illustrations are hand tipped.

Joe Fox: And that’s why it costs so much?

George: That’s why it’s WORTH so much.

Joe Fox: AHh.


“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?”

Kathleen Kelly at her desk in You've Got Mail

“Once I read a story about a butterfly on the subway, and today, I saw one! It got on at 42nd and off at 59th, where, I assume, it was going to Bloomingdales to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake, as almost all hats are.”


“This is her best friend Tacy, whose real name is Anastasia, and then in the next book Betsy and Tacy become friends with Tib, whose real name, I am sorry to tell you, is Thelma.”


“When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.”


“I’d start with Ballet Shoes first, it’s my favorite.”


“When you are finished with Fox Books, The Shop Around the Corner is going to be responsible for reversing the entire course of the Industrial Revolution.”


“They have to have discounts and lattes because most of their workers have never read a book.”


“So you do not have to look to the usual places where good and evil face off, the places Herodotus called “the happy land of absolutes.” We have the perfect example here on the West Side where the cold cash cow, Fox Books, threatens survival of a temple to one of the twentieth century’s most profound truths: You are what you read. Save The Shop Around The Corner and you will save your soul.”

Birdie: Frank, that’s charming.

Frank: Is it a little over the top?



And finally: I know I already included this one at the top of this list (in that Pride & Prejudice quote), but really it stands so well on it’s own. I say it all the time:

“Read it! I know you’ll love it.”