25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years, as Told by Books

To celebrate turning 25 I wanted to share 25 life lessons as told by books. A lot of these quotes are from my all-time favorites, and others are from books I’ve read in the past year since finding my way back to reading. I’ve explained a little about the lesson in each quote, but some of the quotes just simply speak for themselves. Either way, there’s (hopefully) wisdom to be imparted, so get reading!

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1. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.—Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
I don’t take the traditional meaning from this. Personally, I like to focus on the word DWELL. It’s all well and good to have dreams, and I believe that we have them for a reason. You didn’t just come up with whatever idea is stuck in your head because you don’t want it. For the longest time, the thought of being a writer—not an author—was just a dream to me. I would sit and think about it for hours, but I’d never do much more than that. Now that I’ve kicked my butt in to gear and I’m actually WRITING, I’ve moved on to a new dream—of being a published author. And it’s not going to happen unless I work for it. I guess, that’s what I’m trying to say here; you need to WORK for your dreams, otherwise they stay just that.

2. The world is not a wish-granting factory.—The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This ties in a lot with #1 and is something we seem to have forgotten as a society, and I think it’s important to mention it. You don’t get things in life by wishing. You get them by working hard, making changes, and making sacrifices. No one wants to wake up at 5 am on their day off and drag their butt to the gym, or plow through some paperwork, or work out some plot hole that’s stumping them. But that’s how you get to wherever it is you want to go in life—by doing the things that you don’t want to do. If it was easy, everyone would do it, and would it really be worth it if there wasn’t some struggle involved?

3. The ones who love us never truly leave us…—Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
This is something that really hit home for me recently, with the loss of my Mom. I can’t describe the pain of losing someone close to you, but I can tell you that JK Rowling struck gold with this quote, and I’d like to think it’s because she went through that type of home-hitting loss herself. Every single part of my mother is still alive in me—from the way I phrase something to the way I carry myself to the way I see and treat others. She’s still with me when I have a coffee in a cafe or when I smell a certain scent or walk past a certain item in a shop. No one is truly gone until we let go of the things that remind us of them, and even then the things we do or say may remind someone else of that person, keeping a small part of them alive.

4. Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.—A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin
We see the things we look for in life. Simple as that. If you look for the bad, that’s what you’re going to see. So look for the good things in life.

5. “I think I’ve made a mistake.” “Then make it into something better.”—Caraval by Stephanie Garber
We all make mistakes—it’s part of being human. Don’t hide them away in some dark corner of your brain. Use the pain or embarrassment of it to your advantage.Never let a mistake be just that—learn from it. Otherwise, what was the point? There’s more to life than pain, sometimes you just have to work to find the “more” part. Those are the lessons in the mistakes.

6. …but believe me, there are far worse fates than death.—Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
I have a couple of lessons learned that tie into this one. The first is to TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. You only get one. the second is to never put more into anything than you get out of it. We are not put on this earth to give 100% of ourselves to others. Your happiness is important too. The third is to learn to say yes to experiences, and worry about the rest later. The mundane, everyday things will still be there later, and there’s always room to experience life. Sometimes you just have to make room for the experiences. You can still buy that eyeshadow palette or that book next week, but you won’t always be able to travel or adventure or spend time with family and friends.

7. Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.—A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
To segue from the somber quote above, this quote is pretty much my motto. You don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, or where life is going to take you in the end, so enjoy being you. Do the things you love without guilt or shame—unless what you enjoy is kicking puppies. Just go sit in a corner.

8. I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are evil.—The Return of the King By JRR Tolkien
Have you ever had an absolutely miserable day that you just could not get over until you finally got home, crawled into your bed, and just sobbed. Sometimes tears are the most healing thing. And not all tears come from sadness. I’ll admit it, I’ll cry over pretty much anything—I’ve cried out of frustration, anger, happiness, I’ve bawled at the least sad parts of a movie, I’ve teared up just thinking about something happy that happened 18 million years ago! If you want to cry, cry.

9. A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.—A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin
And what magical lives us bookworms live!

10. Stupid people are dangerous.—The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I don’t think this one really needs explaining. But I’m not just taking about stupid-people-at-large. I’m talking about the miserable, negative, toxic idiots in your life. Just let them go. This can be incredibly hard; the loss of a bad relationship is still a loss, but it’s necessary nonetheless.

11. It isn’t against the law to be an idiot.—Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
A follow-up to #10 . And what a sad, sad fact this is.

12. It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.—Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I could talk about mental health with this one, but I think there’s enough seriousness in this post so I’ll save that for another time. What I think of when I read this is my health and fitness journey. Think of it as, it takes ten times as long to start over than it does to stop. If I’d never stopped umpteen billion times for a “week long” break, I’d have achieved my goal physique, would have smashed my strength goals, and I’d probably be able to run a mile without thinking I’m going to die. But because I kept stopping, I’m back at the starting point again, back to struggling through workouts that used to be my warm-up—AGAIN.

13. Too many books. Too few centuries.—Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Anyone with a neverending TBR pile knows this to be true.

14. Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.—The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
This quote makes me think of my Dad, 110%. He has got to be the strongest man I know. He has endured some of the most unfair, painful things in life with grace and he has managed to keep a smile throughout it all. He taught me that a commitment is worth more than temporary heartache, and that sometimes we must hold others above ourselves. I’m not a religious person, so I might take this quote differently than others. To me, faith is about giving something a chance. To abandon something or someone because difficulties arise isn’t a method of self-assurance, it simply destroys whatever could have been, including what you could have been. Difficulties hurt, yes. But they also make us stronger, teach us, and bring us infinitely closer to the people who endure them with us. Like anything in life, hard times are what you make of them, and I’m one who likes to find the beauty in the hurt.

15. If a lot more of us valued good and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.—The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
This quote has been on my mind a lot recently. Have you ever noticed that some of the happiest people are the ones who don’t have a lot of material things? And I’m not talking about the minimalist trend—have you seen the price of some of this “minimalist” crap. A lot of people on the minimalist bandwagon still have far more than a lot of people dare dream of having. I’m talking about the people who have less out of necessity and not choice. They may not be rich in the standard sense, but they are wealthier than many when it comes to love, enjoyment, and perspective.

16. People were always getting ready for tomorrow. I didn’t believe in that. Tomorrow wasn’t getting ready for them. It didn’t even know they were there.—The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This is a pretty dour lesson to learn. But what I take from it is to LIVE IN THE MOMENT! There’s no point in worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month. You can’t control most of what will happen, so don’t worry about it, and if you do have some control over it, then why are you worrying! Deal with whatever comes when it comes and just simply enjoy right now. In the words of my most beloved Hufflepuff, Newt Scamander, “My philosophy is worrying means you suffer twice.”

17. The bad things can’t matter more than the good things.—Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
This is the only quote in this list from a book I haven’t read yet, but I just HAD to include it. Life is too short to be a miserable cow—do not let the little things get you down, don’t let a bad 5 minutes ruin your entire day. 5 minutes is literally 0.3% of your day. That means that 99.7% of your day was good. If you got 99.7% on a test would you be upset? Well, maybe, because that is a bit annoying. At that point you might as well just says it’s 100%

18. The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us.—Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
This just makes me feel all kinds of warm and fuzzy inside!

19. Grief does not change you…It reveals you.—The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Everyone can be the picture perfect human when things are going good. If it’s a facade, it’s much harder to maintain when things get tough. As humans, we definitely show our true colors when times are bad, whether we are actually grieving or simply angry. So if someone shows you their true nature—take note. It’s usually not a coincidence if someone’s being a wiener when things aren’t going their way.

20. We are all pieces of what we remember.—City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
We are all shaped by our memories—and apparently mine are somewhat lax. I thought that the quote from Lord of Shadows was the only one from a book I didn’t read. But after searching through my collection to find all of the books for the photos, I realized that I haven’t read this one either! Have I really fallen that far behind in the Shadowhunter series??? I was legitimately 100% convinced I’d read this book! Oh well, the quote is still beautiful and I’ll still talk about it… How we view our past shapes us. Look back with fondness, even on those memories that aren’t so fond, because they’ve made you who you are, for better or worse. You find what you look for in life—if you want to see the negative, that’s what your going to see. If you want to see the positive, that’s what you’ll see. This goes for what we are experiencing now, and what emotions we associate with our memories, and what lessons we take from them.

21. Better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than in the middle of some ladder you don’t, right?—The Circle by Dave Eggers
If you don’t like something in your life or you aren’t going where you want to, change it! Why put endless amounts of time and energy into something you don’t even want when the same amount, or less, can be put into doing what you actually want.

22. Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.—A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin
Friends who stick with you through the toughest parts of your life will be with you forever. Something like that is usually the sign of a true, committed friendship.

23. Fear cuts deeper than swords. The man who fears losing has already lost.—A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
Do the things that scare you. I don’t mean jump out of a plane. I mean, do the regular, every day things that make your stomach drop out of your ass while your heart is trying to climb out of your throat. You’re usually scared because some sort of change is involved. And change is scary. But it’s usually good for you. Fear, especially fear of change, will hold you back far more than anything else in this world.

24. …you sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.—Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
This is an amazing lesson to stick into a children’s book! I think children are too often told now that they have to go through a certain path in life to be successful—or at least I was—and that certain paths are meant for a certain group of people. But this simply isn’t true. You can do anything you set your mind to if you’re willing to put in the work and are determined to see it through.

25. You’re worth twelve of Malfoy.—Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
The last thing I’ve learned that I wanted to express through a quote is to never think you are worth less than you are. You are important. Your happiness is important, your dreams matter, your time is valuable, and your energy should be well spent. Never let anyone tell you different. If they do, feel free to take a page out of Hermione’s book. The saying, we accept the love we think we deserve, is true. So believe that you deserve the best, because you certainly do!

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Do you guys have any life lessons learned from books? Share in the comments!

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