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25 Quotes from books that explore the complex nature of humanity

To be human is the most incredible and unique thing you can be on this planet. We are strong and powerful one minute then terrified and doubtful the next. We have a million emotions running through us at once and we ache to find meaning in our lives and understand everything in the world – and universe – around us.

But to be human is not easy, and the nature of humanity is so complex that you could spend your entire life just trying to get to the root of it.

Here are 25 times where the complex nature of humanity was explored in books.

1. “Every soul is special. They’re all beautiful. They’re all far more significant than anyone on this rock realizes. I think when people are at their best, they’re acting in accordance with their soul. The ones who have gone bad don’t have bad souls. They’ve just given up on keeping in touch with them.”
Jim Butcher, Vignette

2. “The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals.”
George Orwell, In Front of Your Nose: 1945-1950

3. “So you see, Good and Evil have the same face; it all depends on when they cross the path of each individual human being.”
Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

4. “Humanity is so weird. If we’re not laughing, we’re crying or running for our lives because monsters are trying to eat us. And they don’t even have to be real monsters. They could be the ones we make up in our heads. Don’t you think that’s weird?”
T.J. Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea

5. “What was it that made this human love so much more desirable to me than the love of my own kind? Was it because it was exclusive and capricious? …Or was it simply better somehow? Because these humans hate with so much fury, was the other end of the spectrum that they could love with more heart and zeal and fire?”
Stephenie Meyer, The Host

6. “I love mankind, he said, “but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole, the less I love man in particular.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

7. “My grandmother lived a remarkable life. She watched her nation fall to pieces; and even when she became collateral damage, she believed in the power of the human spirit. She gave when she had nothing; she fought when she could barely stand; she clung to tomorrow when she couldn’t find footing on the rock ledge of yesterday.”
Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller

8. “Idris: Are all people like this?
The Doctor: Like what?
Idris: So much bigger on the inside.”

Neil Gaiman, Doctor Who

9. “Keep in mind, Eragon, that no one thinks himself a villain, and few make decisions they think are wrong. A person may dislike his choice, but he will stand by it because, even in the worst circumstances, he believes that it was the best option available to him at the time.”
Christopher Paolini, Eragon

10. “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

11. “I’d never lived on a planet where such atrocities could happen, even before the souls came. This place was truly the highest and the lowest of all worlds- the most beautiful senses, the most exquisite emotions…the most malevolent desires, the darkest deeds. Perhaps it was meant to be so. Perhaps without the lows, the highs could not be reached.”
— Stephenie Meyer, The Host

12. “The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.”
Carl Sagan, Cosmos

13. “If you are not the hero of your own story, then you’re missing the whole point of your humanity.”
Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

14. “To love another human in all of her splendor and imperfect perfection , it is a magnificent task…tremendous and foolish and human.”
Louise Erdrich, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

15. “I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race — that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words damning and brilliant.”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

16. “The human mind isn’t a terribly logical or consistent place. Most people, given the choice to face a hideous or terrifying truth or to conveniently avoid it, choose the convenience and peace of normality. That doesn’t make them strong or weak people, or good or bad people. It just makes them people.”
― Jim Butcher, Turn Coat

17. “Someday I will understand Auschwitz. This was a brave statement but innocently absurd. No one will ever understand Auschwitz. What I might have set down with more accuracy would have been: Someday I will write about Sophie’s life and death, and thereby help demonstrate how absolute evil is never extinguished from the world. Auschwitz itself remains inexplicable. The most profound statement yet made about Auschwitz was not a statement at all, but a response.
The query: “At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God?”
And the answer: “Where was man?”

William Styron, Sophie’s Choice

18. “What had human beings become? Did war make us evil or just activate an evil already lurking within us?”
Ruta Sepetys, Salt to the Sea

19. “Love is forever. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be love. The world is beautiful. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be the world.”
Rick Yancey, The Last Star

20. “If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

21. “Human reason can excuse any evil.”
Veronica Roth, Divergent

22. “In school we learn that mistakes are bad, and we are punished for making them. Yet, if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes. We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk.”
Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad

23. “There is strange comfort in knowing that no matter what happens today, the Sun will rise again tomorrow.”
Aaron Lauritsen, 100 Days Drive: The Great North American Road Trip

24. “If we wish to know about a man, we ask ‘what is his story–his real, inmost story?’–for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us–through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives–we are each of us unique.”
Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

25. “Without humans on Earth, without the human brain and soul to see it all, nothing really existed. Not the sun, nor the moon or the stars – nothing. Because without our distinctly human ability to see it all – to pause, to consider – none of it, nothing that existed in the whole of the universe and beyond, was really there at all.
Once the human race was lost, there would be no one left to wonder at life and all that was amazing and wonderful and frightening, would be gone. The whole universe would no longer exist, simply because there would be no one around to look up and see it. Humans were the most important part of the universe, because they were the only thing that made it real.”

Melanie Hudson, The Last Letter from Juliet

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