“What keeps me awake at the wheel is the thrill of trying something completely new with each book. I’m not a risk-taker in life, generally speaking, but as a writer I definitely choose the fast car, the impossible rock face, the free fall.”

— Barbara Kingsolver

“The trees exhaled in communion, rode their new continents, survived the end of the world.”

— “Forests of Antarctica”
How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)

“Remember to leave a window open,
oven door closed, stones on the ground
not in your pockets. Maybe just one
precious in a fist, or against a hot cheek.”

— “Dancing with the Devil: Advice for the Female Poet”
How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)

“An even dozen, as it happens,
changeable as the lunar egg
and milky like that, breasts
that have waxed and waned
answering the tides and tugs that
rule the world: men and children.”

— “Six Women Swimming Naked in the Ocean”
How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)

“As people do, we’ve come looking for proof that the dead of the past were just like us. And grow quiet, having found it.”

— “Pompeii”
How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)

“Announce your rebel kindness in letters painted
much too large on the back of your jacket. Children
will stare, dogs bark. Doors bolt. Anyway, walk.”

— “How to Love Your Neighbor”
How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)

“When someone mattered like that, you didn’t lose her at death. You lost her as you kept living.”

― Unsheltered

“When men fear the loss of what they know, they will follow any tyrant who promises to restore the old order.”


“I never learn anything from listening to myself.”

― Flight Behavior

“There are always more questions. Science as a process is never complete. It is not a foot race, with a finish line…. People will always be waiting at a particular finish line: journalists with their cameras, impatient crowds eager to call the race, astounded to see the scientists approach, pass the mark, and keep running.”

Flight Behavior

“Science doesn’t tell us what we should do. It only tells us what is.”

Flight Behavior

“I should like to write my books only for the dear person who lies awake reading in bed until page last, then lets the open book fall gently on her face, to touch her smile or drink her tears.”

The Lacuna

“ ‘Mr. Shepherd, ye cannot stop a bad thought from coming into your head. But ye need not pull up a chair and bide it sit down.’ ”

The Lacuna

“Where my kids are concerned I find myself hoping for the simplest things: that if someday they crave orchards where their kids can climb into the branches and steal apples, the world will have trees enough with arms to receive them.”

― Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

“Even now, in every season, there comes a certain day with a scent on its air or a birdsong needled through it like a silver promise, some germ of evidence for a life beyond my own that calls me out the door.”

— Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands

“For every second of humanity’s raucous history, every breath any of us has ever taken was absorbed and answered silently by leaves.”

— Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands

“By the rule of biological law, the living world possesses us, not the other way around.”

— Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands

“Our task is to convince ourselves that wildness deserves to persist, not because of what it can give us but simply because of what it is. Because it was here first. Because life, by definition, is its own reason for being, and the only justification it needs. Because we ourselves arose ultimately from the rich mud-scented cells of the fecund earth and now must fight our adolescent urge to destroy the evidence.”

— Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands

“The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”

— Small Wonder

“Solitude is a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot, a tug of impalpable thread on the web pulling mate to mate and predator to prey, a beginning or an end. Every choice is a world made new for the chosen.”

Prodigal Summer

“Art is the antidote that can call us back from the edge of numbness, restoring the ability to feel for another.”

— High Tide In Tucson

“Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.”

— The Poisonwood Bible

“I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.”

— The Poisonwood Bible

“Many people rely hard on five games that showcase upper-body strength (football, baseball, basketball, boxing, and hockey) as reassurance of a certain order, gender-wise, in the universe. Me, I bear in mind that women live seven years longer than men, on average, and figure that’s the sport I’ll sign up for.”

— High Tide in Tucson

“The way of a parent’s love is a fool’s progress, for sure. We lean and we lean on the cherished occupation of making ourselves obsolete.”

High Tide in Tucson

“I’m always looking at the dialectic between the truth we believe exists outside ourselves and the truth we invent for ourselves.”

Pigs In Heaven

“No matter what kind of night you’re having, morning always wins.”

Pigs In Heaven

“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.”

Pigs In Heaven

“Remember the moon survives,
draws herself out crescent-thin,
a curved woman. Untouchable,
she bends around the shadow
that pushes himself against her,
and she waits.”

— “Remember the Moon Survives”
Another America

“But the heart is a chamber that fills again
at the sight of red mud villages,
women pounding tortillas.
The blood returns. The soldiers are deserting.
Their study of war was a plowshare of schemes and glass
and home is the unyielding animal soil.
The only fight is here.”

— “The Blood Returns”
Another America

“I can lie here in the watershed of your sleep, instead, watching dreams pass under
the perfect aqueduct of your bones. Had I slept, it would only have been another hour
in which you were lost to me.”

— “Watershed”
Another America 

“I am the only animal
that can die a hundred times
and still fear death inside.
If we expect survival,
allow me this.
As long as I continue to be cut,
let me still bleed.”

— “The Loss Of My Arms and Legs”
Another America

“My nation has doors wide as granaries
to turn the believers out
to run here on dark hooves,
through your cities,
where red cascades of flowers
sigh of the conquest.
Our feet click on your stones
but we’ve carried off nothing.
The sins
are still back there, staining the altar.”

— “Escape”
Another America

“Why is it that only girls stand on the sides of their feet? It’s as if they’re afraid to plant themselves.”

— Animal Dreams

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.”

— Homeland and Other Stories

“The women who walked to work every morning in their coveralls, hairnets, and hard hats, telling jokes and swinging their lunch buckets, were tugging at the moorings of the status quo.”

— Holding the Line

“Anyone who has lived in a town deeply divided over a life-and-death issue knows that if you aren’t willing to declare your allegiances, you’re unlikely to be served a cup of coffee in a restaurant, much less engender anyone’s trust.”

— Holding the Line

“If you want to know a woman’s worldview, ask her what she wants for her children.”

— Holding the Line

“A human being can be good or bad or right or wrong, maybe. But how can you say a person is illegal?”

― The Bean Trees

“In a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is make things as right as we can.”

― The Bean Trees