One of the best things about love quotes from books is that writers so well articulate the experience of being in love that you start to fall in love a little—whether or not you are actually in a relationship! They make you nostalgic, they make you swoon, and they make you yearn. What I have assembled below are some of the best literary quotes about love. These are—to me—the best love quotes from books, whether the books are of poetry, individual poems, novels, or even nonfiction.
The Marquis dusted off the Italian theorbo. He restrung it, tuned it with a perseverance that could be understood only as love, and once again accompanied the songs of the past, sung with the good voice and bad ear that neither years no troubled memories had changed. This was when she asked him whether it was true that love conquered all, as the songs said.
“It is true,” he replied, “but you would do well not to believe it.”
—Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel García Márquez
I was afraid to look into the warm brownness of his eyes, I was afraid I would swoon, that I would throw my hands around him and lace my fingers together behind his neck and refuse to let go. I turned.
Physical attraction? Not a real thing. If, at thirty-six years old, I’m sitting over here talking about chiseled abs and perfect teeth, then I am undeserving of genuine romantic love.
—We are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears. The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep. It connected itself with other vaguely felt matters that had struck her outside observation and buried themselves in her flesh. Now they emerged and quested about her consciousness.
I was able to squirrel away 4,213 of Fusun’s cigarette butts. Each one of these had touched her rosy lips and entered her mouth, some even touching her tongue and becoming moist, as I would discover when I put my finger on the filter soon after she had stubbed the cigarette out; the stubs, reddened by her lovely lipstick, bore the unique impress of her lips at some moment whose memory was laden with anguish or bliss, making these stubs artifacts of singular intimacy.
—The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Other people seemed to turn up their volume when Sula was in the room. More than any other thing, humor returned. She could listen to the crunch of sugar underfoot that the children had spilled without reaching for the switch; and she forgot the tear in the living-room window shade. Even Nel’s love for Jude, which over the years had spun a steady gray web around her heart, became a bright and easy affection, a playfulness that was reflected in their lovemaking.
—Sula by Toni Morrison
If love be rough with you, be rough with love. Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Now and then my heart wanders off like a tomcat. It comes back later, it always comes back, who am I kidding?I don’t control it. I may control it. I really don’t know.
—“My Pet Heart” by Emily Hipchen
For the first eighteen years we were together, I’d give Hugh chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and he’d give me a carton of cigarettes. Both of us got exactly what we wanted, and it couldn’t have been easier. Then I quit smoking and decided that in place of cigarettes I needed, say, an eighteenth-century scientific model of the human throat. It was life-size, about four inches long, and, because it was old, handmade, and designed to be taken apart for study, it cost quite a bit of money. “When did Valentine’s Day turn into this?” Hugh asked when I told him that he had to buy it for me…“Eventually, we’ll celebrate by spaying a few dozen kittens,” I said, “but until that day comes, I want that throat.”
—“Understanding Owls” by David Sedaris
“Do you want to untie the ribbon?” I ask him. “After these many years, is that what you want of me?”
—Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
He was too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.
—Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
—“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot
…by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
—”Sonnet 130″ by William Shakespeare
I love you ’cause I changed my life
to love you
because you saw me one Friday
afternoon and decided that I would
—“Resignation” by Nikki Giovanni
and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you so quite new
—[i like my body] by E.E. Cummings
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.
—”For Women Who are Difficult to Love” by Warsan Shire
I wish I knew how to quit you.
—BrokeBack Mountain by Annie Proulx
Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love.
—Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
—Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
We loved with a love that was more than love.
—”Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe
—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
He had written to her just before he sailed for America. The Queen’s Pride was his ship, and he loved her. (That was the way his sentences always went: It is raining today and I love you. My cold is better and I love you. Say hello to Horse and I love you. Like that.)
—The Princess Bride by William Goldman
You don’t love because, you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults.
—The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
That any one should care in this heat whose flushed lips he kissed, whose head made damp the pajama pocket over his heart!
—The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The more you love someone, he came to think, the harder it is to tell them. It surprised him that strangers didn’t stop each other on the street to say I love you.
—Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.
—”Araby” by James Joyce
Man can never know the loneliness a woman knows. Man lies in the woman’s womb only to gather strength, he nourishes himself from this fusion, and then he rises and goes into the world, into his work, into battle, into art. He is not lonely. He is busy. The memory of the swim in amniotic fluid gives him energy, completion. Woman may be busy too, but she feels empty. Sensuality for her is not only a wave of pleasure in which she is bathed, and a charge of electric joy at contact with another. When man lies in her womb, she is fulfilled, each act of love a taking of man within her, an act of birth and rebirth, of child rearing and man bearing. Man lies in her womb and is reborn each time anew with a desire to act, to be. But for woman, the climax is not in the birth, but in the moment man rests inside of her.
Marrying a woman for her beauty makes no more sense than eating a bird for its singing. But it’s a common mistake nonetheless.
—Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
My love for you is frightening, Maha. Like Antar Ibn Shadad, I gallop towards metal eagles because I see a glimpse of your face there, our children’s faces and the high foreheads of the Arabs.
—Pillars of Salt by Fadia Faqir
Holding hands, for example, is a way to remember how it feels to say nothing together.
—The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The seeds of courtly love were imported in part from the Arab countries, the style and sentiment of whose poetry delighted troubadors in southern France. Howewomen differed from the idealized and longed-for women of the harem—Frenchwomen were available.
—A Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman
Shug say, Us each other’s people now, and kiss me.
—The Color Purple by Alice Walker
(Y)ou might have wounded someone you love, you might have woken the neighbors, you might have pushed your voice until it sounds cartoonish and alien, but this scream of yours, if it comes from deep enough inside you, it is your best bet.
—Let Me Clear My Throat by Elena Passarello
June, take everything from me but not Henry. Leave me Henry. He is not necessary to you. You do not love him as I do today. You can love many men. I will love only a few. For me, Henry is rare.
—Henry and June by Anais Nin
I can’t let him go. I can’t. There must be some way to bring him back. Oh, I can’t think about this now! I’ll go crazy if I do! I’ll think about it tomorrow. But I must think about it. I must think about it. What is there to do? What is there that matters? Tara! Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all…tomorrow is another day!
—Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
He looked back at her. She saw his eyes, tense and brilliant, fierce, not moving. But her will had left her. A strange weight was on her limbs. she was giving way. She was giving up.
—Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
—Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Soul meets soul on lovers’ lips.
—Prometheus Unbound by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Who, being loved, is poor?
—A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde
To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.
He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.
—Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
You can’t own a human being. You can’t lose what you don’t own. Suppose you did own him. Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don’t, do you? And neither does he. You’re turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can’t value you more than you value yourself.
—Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is the way you can both hate and love something you are not sure you understand.
There is a loneliness that must be particular to monsters, I think, the feeling that each is the only child of a species. And now that loneliness was over.
To see someone you love, in a bad setting, is one of the great barometers of gratitude.
He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke.
—The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Woman is sacred; the woman one loves is holy.
The problem, of course, was that [he] saw the world in black and white. And he got to decide what was black and what was white. You can’t love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little.
“Maybe…you’ll fall in love with me all over again.”
“Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?”
“Yes. I want to ruin you.”
“Good,” I said. “That’s what I want too.”
Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye.
What did we miss? What are some of your favorite literary quotes about love?