Barbara Kingsolver quotes

  • Hope is a renewable option: If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Running #Hope #Morning

  • Something in me was always watching life from the outside, permanently obsessed with the notion of belonging vs. not-belonging [to a group]. It did not make for a happy childhood, but it was excellent training for a writer.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Childhood #Training #Groups

  • The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Hope #Dream #Life Lesson

  • I concentrate on character, theme, language, structure, voice. It actually surprises me that no matter what I write, people declare it "intently political." I'm just writing about the world I know, as it is. Wounds and griefs included.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Grief #Writing #Character

  • Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #People #Trying #Want

  • Poetry feels like a country I visit without a passport, where I look around furtively, grab hold of something precious, and try to smuggle it back across the border. Any poem I get written down feels like contraband to me.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Country #Trying #Borders

  • Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Life #Being Alone #Writing

  • Root out all the "to be" verbs in your prose and bludgeon them until dead. No "It was" or "they are" or "I am." Don't let it be, make it happen.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Roots #Verbs #Prose

  • It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Mom #Daughter #Mother

  • Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Inspirational #Memories #Twins

  • When I look out the window, I exhale a prayer of thanks for the color green, for my children's safety, for the simple acts of faith like planting a garden that helped see us through another spring, another summer. And I inhale some kind of promise to protect my kids' hopes and good intentions we began with in this country. Freedom of speech, the protection of diversity - these are the most important ingredients of American civil life and my own survival. If I ever took them for granted, I don't know.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Summer #Country #Prayer

  • You don't think you'll live past it and you don't really. The person you were is gone. But the half of you that's still alive wakes up one day and takes over again.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Grief #Past #Thinking

  • Few people know so clearly what they want. Most people can't even think what to hope for when they throw a penny in a fountain.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Thinking #People #Want

  • There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, 'There now, hang on, you'll get over it.' Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Depression #Cancer #Sadness

  • Every one of us is called upon, perhaps many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job...And onward full-tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another--that is surely the basic instinct...Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Jobs #Moving #Loss

  • It's a funny thing: people often ask how I discipline myself to write. I can't begin to understand the question. For me, the discipline is turning off the computer and leaving my desk to do something else.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Writing #Funny Things #Discipline

  • Thanks for this day, for all birds safe in their nests, for whatever this is, for life.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Bird #Safe #Nests

  • Eaters must understand, how we eat determines how the world is used.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #World #Used #Determine

  • Don't wait for the muse. She has a lousy work ethic. Writers just write.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Writing #Work Ethic #Waiting

  • Friends, there is nothing like your own family to make you appreciate strangers!
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Appreciate #Stranger

  • It's terrible to lose somebody, but it's also true that some people never have anybody to lose, and I think that's got to be so much worse.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Thinking #People #Terrible

  • Maybe life doesn't get any better than this, or any worse, and what we get is just what we're willing to find: small wonders, where they grow.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Wonder #Grows #Willing

  • After 'The Poisonwood Bible' was published, several people believed that my parents were missionaries, which could not be further from the truth.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #People #Parent #Missionary

  • As a biologist, I can't think of myself as anything but an animal among animals and plant.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Animal #Thinking #Plant

  • Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read it, and might even sit up in bed till early dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well, are made up.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Writing #Drawing #People

  • Misunderstanding is my cornerstone. It's everyone's, come to think of it. Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Thinking #Feet #Pavement

  • Cooking is 80 percent confidence, a skill best acquired starting from when the apron strings wrap around you twice.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Animal #Vegetables #Skills

  • It's the one thing we never quite get over: that we contain our own future.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Get Over

  • If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Dream #Sweet #Want

  • Households that have lost the soul of cooking from their routines may not know what they are missing: the song of a stir-fry sizzle, the small talk of clinking measuring spoons, the yeasty scent of rising dough, the painting of flavors onto a pizza before it slides into the oven.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Song #Animal #Vegetables

  • the conspicuous consumption of limited resources has yet to be accepted widely as a spiritual error, or even bad manners
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Spiritual #Errors #Limited Resources

  • A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after--oh, that' s love by a different name.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Baby #Cheer #Children

  • ...prodigal summer, the season of extravagant procreation. It could wear out everything in its path with its passionate excesses, but nothing alive with wings or a heart or a seed curled into itself in the ground could resist welcoming it back when it came.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Summer #Heart #Wings

  • I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Inspirational #Learning #Trying

  • In a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is make things as right as we can.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Life #World

  • But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after - oh, that's love by a different name. She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she's gone to sleep. If you put her down in the crib, she might wake up changed and fly away. So instead you rock my the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. Your heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She's the one you can't put down.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Dream #Baby #Drinking

  • If we can't, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Art #Real #Bread

  • I learned to write by reading the kind of books I wished I'd written.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Book #Reading #Writing

  • A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Good Life #Feelings #Throwing

  • Every betrayal contains a perfect moment, a coin stamped heads or tails with salvation on the other side.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Betrayal #Perfect #Tails

  • We're animals. We're born like every other mammal and we live our whole lives around disguised animal thoughts.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Animal #Mammals #Born

  • The truth needs so little rehearsal.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Honesty #Needs #Rehearsal

  • Like kids who only ever get socks for Christmas, but still believe with all their hearts in Santa.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Believe #Heart #Kids

  • Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act. THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is a bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Adventure #Winning #Discovery

  • It's surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Memories #Mindfulness #Unnoticed

  • I'm not pretending to be ingenuous; I know what I'm doing.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Pretending

  • You can be as earnest and ridiculous as you need to be, if you don't attempt it in isolation. The ridiculously earnest are known to travel in groups. And they are known to change the world.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Needs #World #Groups

  • The arc of history is longer than human vision. It bends. We abolished slavery, we granted universal suffrage. We have done hard things before. And every time it took a terrible fight between people who could not imagine changing the rules, and those who said, 'We already did. We have made the world new.' The hardest part will be to convince yourself of the possibilities, and hang on.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Fighting #People #Vision

  • I have seen women looking at jewelry ads with a misty eye and one hand resting on the heart, and I only know what they're feeling because that's how I read the seed catalogs in January.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Heart #Eye #Hands

  • Growing food was the first activity that gave us enough prosperity to stay in one place, form complex social groups, tell our stories, and build our cities.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Cities #Groups #Stories

  • The happiest people are the ones with the most community.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #People #Community

  • I'm of a fearsome mind to throw my arms around every living librarian who crosses my path, on behalf of the souls they never knew they saved.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Soul #Mind #Library

  • Wars and elections are both too big and too small to matter in the long run. The daily work - that goes on, it adds up.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Funny #Life #Running

  • Be still, and the world is bound to turn herself inside out to entertain you. Everywhere you look, joyful noise is clanging to drown out quiet desperation.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Patience #Looks #World

  • Stop a minute, right where you are. Relax your shoulders, shake your head and spine like a dog shaking off cold water. Tell that imperious voice in your head to be still.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Dog #Voice #Water

  • Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It's the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else's pain is as meaningful as your own.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Meaningful #Spiritual #Pain

  • You can’t replace people you love with other people…But you can trust that you’re not going to run out of people to love.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Running #People

  • With all due respect for the wondrous ways people have invented to amuse themselves and one another on paved surfaces, I find that this exodus from the land makes me unspeakably sad. I think of the children who will never know, intuitively, that a flower is a plant's way of making love, or what silence sounds like, or that trees breathe out what we breathe in.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Children #Flower #Thinking

  • Will you explain to me why people encourage delusional behaviour in children, and medicate it in adults?
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Children #People #Adults

  • Even feigning surprise, pretending it was unexpected and saying a ritual thanks, is surely wiser than just expecting everything so carelessly.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Animal #Vegetables #Miracle

  • What keeps you going isn't some fine destination but just the road you're on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, 'What life can I live that will let me breathe in & out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Running #Eye #And Love

  • There is no perfect time to write. There is only now.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Writing #Perfect

  • Why is it that only girls stand on the sides of their feet? As if they're afraid to plant themselves?
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Girl #Feet #Feminist

  • I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer's block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don't. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Jobs #Block #Waiting

  • Libraries are the one American institution you shouldn't rip off.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Rip #Book #Library

  • Because I could not stop for death he kindly stopped for me, or paused at least to strike a glancing blow with his sky-blue mouth as he passed.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Blow #Blue #Sky

  • The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I'm living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Running #Kindness #Wall

  • Many of us who aren't farmers or gardeners still have some element of farm nostalgia in our family past, real or imagined: a secret longing for some connection to a life where a rooster crows in the yard.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Real #Past #Secret

  • I considered her my ally, because, like me, she was imperfect.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Allies #Imperfect

  • To people who think of themselves as God's houseguests, American enterprise must seem arrogant beyond belief. Or stupid. A nation of amnesiacs, proceeding as if there were no other day but today. Assuming the land could also forget what had been done to it.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Stupid #Thinking #Land

  • How pointless life could be, what a foolish business of inventing things to love, just so you could dread losing them.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Loss #Losing #Foolish

  • He was my father. I own half his genes, and all of his history. Believe this: the mistakes are part of the story. I am born of a man who believed he could tell nothing but the truth, while he set down for all time the Poisonwood Bible.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Father #Mistake #Believe

  • There was a roaring in my ears and I lost track of what they were saying. I believe it was the physical manifestation of unbearable grief.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Grief #Believe #Track

  • Our holiday food splurge was a small crate of tangerines, which we found ridiculously thrilling after an eight-month abstinence from citrus.... Lily hugged each one to her chest before undressing it as gently as a doll. Watching her do that as she sat cross-legged on the floor one morning in pink pajamas, with bliss lighting her cheeks, I thought: Lucky is the world, to receive this grateful child. Value is not made of money, but a tender balance of expectation and longing.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Morning #Children #Food

  • The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don't know.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Important #Persons

  • It's frightening when things you love appear suddenly changed from what you have always known.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Changed #Things You Love #Frightening

  • The average food item on a U.S. grocery shelf has traveled farther than most families go on their annual vacations.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Animal #Vacation #Average

  • In my own worst seasons I've come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again(15).
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Life #Daughter #Dark

  • Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Change #Forgiveness #Moving

  • The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Balance #Injury

  • What I want is so simple I almost can't say it: elementary kindness.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Kindness #Simple #Want

  • But kids don't stay with you if you do it right. It's the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won't be needed in the long run.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Running #Jobs #Kids

  • That was when we smelled the rain. It was so strong it seemed like more than just a smell. When we stretched out our hands we could practically feel it rising up from the ground. I don’t know how a person could ever describe that scent.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Strong #Rain #Hands

  • It is harrowing for me to try to teach 20-year-old students, who earnestly want to improve their writing. The best I can think to tell them is: Quit smoking, and observe posted speed limits. This will improve your odds of getting old enough to be wise
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Wise #Writing #Thinking

  • Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Family #Mom #Mother

  • Memories do not always soften with time; some grow edges like knives.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Memories #Knives #Grows

  • Everything you're sure is right can be wrong in another place.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Travel

  • April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot wrote, by which I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can't keep, all passion is really a setup, and we're doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go out there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally. ... Come the end of the dark days, I am more than joyful. I'm nuts.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Crazy #Spring #Passion

  • Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Life #Trying #Lucky

  • The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Change #May #Salvation

  • Good fiction creates empathy. A novel takes you somewhere and asks you to look through the eyes of another person, to live another life.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Eye #Empathy #Looks

  • The talkers are rising above the thinkers.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Talking #Rising #Rise Above

  • Sleeping alone seemed unnatural to me, and pitiful, something done in hospitals or when you're contagious.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Sleep #Done #Sleeping Alone

  • Nonfiction requires enormous discipline. You construct the terms of your story, and then you stick to them.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Discipline #Sticks #Stories

  • I prefer to remain anomalous.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

  • Being a novelist and being a mother have exactly coincided in my life: the call from my agent saying that I had a contract for my first novel - that was on my answering phone message when I got back from the hospital with my first child.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Mother #Children #Phones

  • I made it to the childbearing phase without TV dependence, then looked around and thought, Well gee, why start now? Why get a pet python on the day you decide to raise fuzzy little gerbils?
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Python #Pet #Fuzzy

  • Every time I step onto an airplane, I turn to the right and take a good, hard stare into the maw of the engine. I don't know what I'm looking for. I just do it.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Airplane #Steps #Staring

  • I live in southern Appalachia, so I'm surrounded by people who work very hard for barely a living wage. It's particularly painful that people are working the farms their parents and grandparents worked but aren't living nearly as well.
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #People #Grandparent #Southern

  • Culture is a slingshot moved by the force of its past
    -- Barbara Kingsolver

    #Past #Culture #Slingshots