How to save your favorite quotes from books (& free art print!)

I’ve been rereading Bird by Bird the past few weeks, and I’m remembering how many underline-worthy sentences there are in it. I love those sorts of books—the ones that make you pause every few pages to dwell on and soak up a sentence that hits a vein of truth.

The problem is, we soak up the sentence but then forget it a few pages later when a new little gem emerges. I don’t know about you, but I have the worst memory. Jarrett has always had a knack for remembering quotes and favorite lines, but I would draw the longest “uhhhhhh….” if you asked me to name my favorite line from a book. It’s sad, really. And no matter how many times I read and reread a sentence, hoping to imprint it on my memory, it slips right through my fingers when I try to think of it later.

What to do, what to do? Outsource it!

best quotes from literature books

That’s right–I’ve given up trying to stockpile favorite quotes in my brain, and now I just hoard them in places I can easily access anytime. Here are my two favorite ways to build a library of favorite quotes from books:

1. Evernote

Do you use Evernote? It’s life-changing. I know that sounds dramatic, but seriously: it’s my new deep memory.

I use it for everything: lists of what to get at Costco, favorite quotes, monthly reviews, recipes, ideas for birthday and Christmas gifts, links for my weekly roundups, workflow checklists, everything. I don’t know how I remembered any of this stuff before Evernote. Did I save it in separate Word files? Stick it in forgotten journals? I don’t know. My memory is so bad that I literally don’t remember how I used to remember things. (Wait, maybe I just didn’t remember things back then…)

But Evernote is now the external hard drive for my brain, and it’s one of my favorite ways to squirrel away the little gems I find in my reading.

I keep one Evernote notebook titled “Life,” and that’s where all my favorite passages go. There’s favorite lines from Anne Lamott, of course, but also plenty of snippets of things I’ve read or heard anywhere: in an article, from a song, in yoga class, at church, in magazines, and even a few sayings from my Yayo that I want to hold on to.

I like to think of it as my library of thought, which is a phrase I’ve cribbed from someone or other, and whose origin I would know if I had kept better notes on quotations from the very start. But anyway, a “Life” notebook is the perfect place to stick your nose into when you need to give yourself a pep talk or shake a little bit of perspective into your mind.

2. Art prints

Anyone who’s a very visual thinker like me will love saving their favorite quotes as art! Every once in a while, I get an itch to turn one of my favorite quotes into an art print, so that I can really see and put into images what a quote feels like to me. Isn’t it fun to close your eyes sometimes and visualize words? It’s what makes reading so magical.

I have a whole collection of book-inspired art prints here, but you should totally try making your own sometime! It’s a lot of fun, and there’s nothing better than having truly custom, meaningful-to-you art hanging around your home or talking sweetly to you by your writing desk.

I use InDesign or Illustrator for art prints, but you could use whatever design program gets you the look you want. And you might be surprised by how much fun you have thinking in images rather than words every once in awhile.

As I was reading Bird by Bird this week, I picked up this quote:

“Maybe all we can do is make our remaining time here full of gentleness and good humor.”

In the book, it’s just a little sentence tucked into a parenthetical, but it jumped out to me right away.

To me, this quote felt like The Little Prince: soft and whimsical yet panoramic.



Anne Lamott quote art print

So here it is for you: a free Anne Lamott quote art print!

Download this art print for free here!

Hang it by your writing desk, frame it and place it on your nightstand, or just print it and tape it anywhere it might make you smile. 🙂

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Giveaway Winner!

The winner of one copy of Add a Pinch: Easier, Faster, Fresher Southern Classics is…

Cathy Baker! Cathy says:

“I’m a HUGE Robyn Stone fan! I cook many of her dishes but my favorite is her Honey Soy Pork loin but my favorite Southern recipe is mac and cheese, like my grandmother made.

Also, I enjoyed this post on generosity and marketing. I launched my first book Tuesday and struggle to find my voice when it comes to marketing. I don’t have the budget to offer mixers and other expensive things to my readers but I do desire to be generous so I’ll need to find more practical ways. One thing I love about Robyn’s site is her willingness to share herself with the readers and if that’s not generous, I’m not sure what is. :)”


Thank you so much for reading and entering the giveaway, Cathy–we’re all sending positive thoughts your way for your first book launch!

What I’m Reading This Week:

The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing a Novel (Jessica Lourey for The Write Life): I’m a big believer in the healing power of writing (and reading!), and Jessica has such a powerful story of how writing helped her overcome her husband’s sudden suicide. I also completely agree that writing doesn’t have to be published to have meaning. No one–not me, not another literary agent, not a publisher–can decide whether your writing is worthwhile. As long as it helps you, it matters.

Writing Groups 101: How to Find Your Perfect Match (Kristen Pope on The Write Life): Make this summer the summer you get out of the house and actually meet some writers in your neighborhood!

Q&A: Jump Into Video and Make Mistakes, Says David Lebovitz (David Lebovitz on Video. You can’t escape it. So why not play around with it, pressure-free, and see how much fun you might be able to have? Here’s my guide for how introverted writers can dip their toes into video.

The Optimist’s Daughter (Eudora Welty): We’re off to Greece for our honeymoon next week, so I dug into my “To Read” list (which yes, lives on Evernote!) and pulled up this novella by Eudora Welty. I’m not sure you could call it a beach read, but read it on a beach I will.

What We’re Eating This Week:

Half the week in DC, half the week in NYC, then taking off for Greece = utter meal confusion.

Monday: One Pot Harissa and Beef Penne (adapted from SkinnyTaste: Fast and Slow). I’ll be sharing this recipe with you all next week, dispatched from Greece where I will be blissfully off #TheGreeceDiet!

Tuesday: ??? Can question marks be a meal? Sometimes they’re all that comes to mind when I think about dinner.

Wednesday: Taking my mom out to dinner for Mother’s Day! I’m thinking salads. “Yes, salad. Right…” she murmured as she dreamed about linguine with clams.

Thursday: Drinks out with an editor and nibbling on whatever I can scavenge in the city.

Friday: I’ll be taking pitches at the Literary Speed Dating event at Food Book Fair, so come by and say hello! Also tell me what I should eat for dinner, because the imagination deficit is REAL this week. Wish me godspeed and a full belly.


5 thoughts on “How to save your favorite quotes from books (& free art print!)

  1. Another way to save your favorite quotes (or info to use later) is a commonplace.
    Commonplace books have been around for centuries- especially back when most people couldn’t afford their own books and had to share others’ or ask info.
    Commonplacing is still around today as well- many politicians use them.

    You could use a book, or an index card system like Ryan Holiday.
    These options are the physical / tangible version of Evernote.

    My website link goes to my blog where i talk about my commonplace or “Knowledge Box”.

    1. You’re right–a commonplace book is another great way to collect quotes and other snippets! Thanks for thinking of that and sharing. I’m so bad at carrying journals that I’ve mostly given up on them and just do my quick jotting in iPhone apps.

      Thanks so much for sharing these great ideas, Luna!

  2. Can you please do a more in-depth post on how you set up Evernote to record quotes and your thoughts about books? I am trying to find a setup that works for me right now, but am not quite there and could use some inspiration.

    1. That’s a great idea, Katie! I’ll work on a longer post about Evernote and saving quotes in the next few weeks. Thanks for reading!

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