What to Write in a Book As a Gift: 40 Bookish Inscription-Ready Quotes

Stacey Megally

Staff Writer

Stacey Megally is a writer, runner, and incurable bookworm. Her writing has been featured in The Dallas Morning News, Running Room Magazine, The Bookwoman, and on stage at LitNight Dallas and the Oral Fixation live storytelling show. When she isn’t knee-deep in words or marathon training, she’s hanging out with her smart, funny husband and their two extremely opinionated dogs. Instagram: @staceymegallywrites

Is there any better gift than a book all wrapped up with a bow? The new-book smell and possibility of an unforgettable story are just the beginning. There’s also the hours of curling up with it, the thoughts and characters that stay with you long after—and of course, remembering the person who got it for you. The person who gifted you the book perhaps wrote an inscription to you inside the front cover. As the gift receiver, that inscription means as much as the book does—in fact, a quick Internet search brings up a plethora of cherished book inscription images, some decades old. So when you’re the giver, what to write in a book as a gift is one of the most important questions to tackle before getting out the wrapping paper.

What to write in a book as a gift. Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash:
What to write in a book as a gift? Start with one of these quotes.

Of course, you’ll want to write something personal—about the recipient or the occasion, or about the book or your favorite passage from it. No one other than you can come up with those words, but if you want to add a little something extra about the joy of books and reading, we’ve rounded up a list of quotes to help you send the perfect message.

What to Write in a Book As a Gift for Someone Who Could Read All Day, Every Day

In the winter she curls up around a good book and dreams away the cold. ―Ben Aaronovitch

Reading—the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay. —William Styron

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading. —Logan Pearsall Smith

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. —C.S. Lewis

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. —Joseph Addison

For Someone Whose World Expands Through Books

The world was hers for the reading. —Betty Smith

A book is a dream you hold in your hands. —Neil Gaiman

It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. —S.I. Hayakawa

Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere. —Mary Schmich

That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet. —Jhumpa Lahiri

Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere. —Jean Rhys

Reading is departure and arrival. —Terri Guillemets

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home. —Anna Quindlen

For Someone Who Collects Books Like They’re Going Out of Style

I have always imagined paradise will be a kind of library. —Jorge Luis Borges

I love the smell of book ink in the morning. —Umberto Eco

So many books, so little time. —Frank Zappa

Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. —Henry Ward Beecher

For Someone Who Loves A Book That Leaves Them Thinking

The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. —Harper Lee

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. —Haruki Murakami 

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say. —Italo Calvino

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. —Oscar Wilde 

For Someone Who Talks About Books As If They’re People

A first book has some of the sweetness of a first love. —Robert Aris Willmott

It is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially. —Donna Tartt 

There is no friend as loyal as a book. —Ernest Hemingway

With books, I slip out of my life and am with the choicest company. —Katherine Young

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. —Charles William Eliot

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book. —Marcel Proust

For the Friend Who Talks About Books With You for Hours

There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books. —Irving Stone

Books, like friends, should be few and well chosen. —Charles Caleb Colton

My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read. —Abraham Lincoln 

For Someone Who Appreciates a Little Humor

Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. —P.J. O’Rourke

There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it. —Bertrand Russell

“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read. —Mark Twain

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. —Groucho Marx

I think it is good that books still exist, but they do make me sleepy. —Frank Zappa

Never judge a book by its movie. —J.W. Eagan

For Someone Whose Dreams Are Fueled by Books

Books were my pass to personal freedom. —Oprah Winfrey

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader. —Margaret Fuller

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. —Frederick Douglas

You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. —James Baldwin

Couldn’t quite find just the right inscription in this list of quotes? Many of them are pulled directly from literature, so you can always open the book you’re giving and look for the right words within its pages. After all, just as they often do in books, authors have a way of expressing what you’ve always thought in a way you’ve never thought about saying it. On the other hand, their words might be the thing that inspires you to come up with the perfect sentiment yourself. But whoever’s words they are, a meaningful inscription is the most beautiful bow you can put on a book this holiday.

For more inspiration about what to write in a book as a gift, check out these quotes that celebrate the reading life and these quotes that remind us why we love books so much.