Toni Morrison is one of the most inspiring and inspirational writers of our time. A powerhouse of wisdom, the world has been captivated by her words since her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970.

Morrison didn’t publish her first novel until she was 40-years-old, and when asked why she began writing in an interview, she responded, “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” Write it, she did. And it took the world by storm.

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She’s a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner in literature, one of the first black American women to do so, an editor, a teacher, and a single mother of two. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything this woman can’t do.

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Because I’ve been collecting quotes from Morrison over the years, from interviews and her novels, here are 15 of the most powerful quotes from the acclaimed author that every single person should read at least once.

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Source: Princeton University

1. “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

2. “In order to be as free as I possibly can, in my own imagination, I can’t take positions that are closed. Everything I’ve ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it, to open doors, sometimes, not even closing the book—leaving the endings open for reinterpretation, revisitation, a little ambiguity.”

3. “Love is never any better than the lover.”

4. “…the oldest and most devastating pain there is: not the pain of childhood, but the remembrance of it.”

5. “At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don’t need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens – that letting go – you let go because you can.”

6. “As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”

7. “There is really nothing more to say-except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.”

8. “All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”

9. “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”

10. “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”

11. “Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”

12. “Serious is just another word for miserable.”

13. “To get to a place where you could love anything you chose–not to need permission for desire–well now, that was freedom.”

14. “What’s the world for if you can’t make it up the way you want it?”

15. “We live in the world…The whole world. Separating us, isolating us–that’s always been their weapon. Isolation kills generations. It has no future.”

 

What’s your favorite Toni Morrison quote?

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