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9 Ray Bradbury Quotes to Inspire and Revive You

We're celebrating the late author in honor of his August 22nd birthday. 

Ray Bradbury quotes
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  • Wikimedia CommonsPhoto Credit: Bradbury at the Miami Book Fair International in 1990.

Many writers dream of penning fiction that is timeless and eternal. The legendary Ray Bradbury was no different. Born on August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois, he decided to become a writer at the young age of 12 in order to live forever through his work. Most people would agree that he accomplished his goal.

Highly prolific, Bradbury wrote many novels, countless short stories, and even some screenplays. He received many awards throughout the course of his distinguished career including an Emmy, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize jury for his “deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.” 

Bradbury passed away on June 5, 2012 and left behind a body of work celebrated for its beautiful prose, social commentary, and coming-of-age nostalgia.

Let's explore these insightful Ray Bradbury quotes from the author's fiction, nonfiction, interviews, and more.

Ray Bradbury quotes

"Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories." -Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is perhaps Ray Bradbury’s most famous and well-known novel. Set in a dystopian society in which books are illegal and burned when discovered, the novel tackles themes of state-based censorship and knowledge suppression. 

But even amongst those heavy topics, Bradbury still found ways to impart a key belief that runs throughout his entire bibliography: seize the day and live your life.

"You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." -1993 Seattle Times interview

While Bradbury wrote Farenheit 451 during the McCarthy era, he would later elaborate that it was his concerns about the effects that mass media had upon literacy that inspired the novel, not any worries about censorship. In this Seattle Times interview, he would further elaborate and clarify his opinion.

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Ray Bradbury quotes

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." -Zen in the Art of Writing

Zen in the Art of Writing collects essays where Bradbury explores not the mechanics of writing, but the philosophies and creative joys that fueled a career that lasted well into his 80s. 

This simple piece of advice illuminates a fact that every writer must learn at some point: you must love the work. That love will sustain you through late nights to meet deadlines, revisions, criticism, obscurity, creative blockages, real life interruptions, and all the other irritants that go hand-in-hand with writing.

"Libraries raised me. I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years." -Ray Bradbury, speaking to The New York Times

Considering the importance Bradbury placed on literature, it comes as no surprise that he was a huge advocate and defender of public libraries. In 2009, he launched an effort to help save a California library on the verge of closure due to lack of funding.

"When you look around at some of the new developments, the architecture of so many of our cities is so dreadful, and they sort of plan people out of existence. There’s no place to sit down, there’s no place to eat outdoors, all the things that make living…so beautiful." -Ray Bradbury, speaking to Tangent

Ray Bradbury famously never obtained his driver’s license. The lack of it never bothered him either. Instead, he rode his bicycle around Los Angeles. Since he didn’t use a car, Bradbury was keenly aware of cityscapes, how they evolved over the years, and the ways people navigated through them. 

His insightful observations from this classic Tangent interview are no less relevant today.

"People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better." - "Beyond 1984: The People Machine"

In his 1979 essay, “Beyond 1984: The People Machines,” Bradbury raises a good point. We spend a lot of time trying to predict the future. But if we’re afraid of what the future might bring, we'll devote countless hours to anticipating the various terrible things that might happen. But perhaps our energy would be better served thinking of ways to build a better future instead—for both ourselves and society as a whole.

The full essay can be read in the below collection. 

Ray Bradbury quotes

"If we listened to our intellect we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go in business because we'd be cynical: "It's gonna go wrong." Or "She's going to hurt me." Or, "I've had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore…" Well, that's nonsense. You're going to miss life. You've got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down." -Ray Bradbury, speech to Brown University

In this speech given at Brown University, Bradbury revisits his favorite theme: living your life. It’s an important reminder and deserves reflection. We can spend a lot of time making plans and imagining all manner of scenarios, but in the end, none of that prepares us for the reality of life. At some point, you need to take the first step and figure it out along the way. 

"Important thing is not the me that's lying here, but the me that's sitting on the edge of the bed looking back at me, and the me that's downstairs cooking supper, or out in the garage under the car, or in the library reading. All the new parts, they count. I'm not really dying today. No person ever died that had a family." -Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine takes place during a single summer and follows a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding. Set in a town based on Bradbury’s childhood home in Illinois, it explores small-town life and nostalgia. This quote reminds us that while death can loom large—especially in the mind of a child—the essence of a person exists in memories, experiences, and the people who remember them.

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Ray Bradbury quotes

"Is Death important? No. Everything that happens before death is what counts." -Something Wicked This Way Comes

When Bradbury was 12, he met a carnival magician who told him to live forever. Intrigued by the idea, he began to write. After all, what better way to live forever than through the stories you tell? 

Set in the same town where Dandelion Wine takes place, Something Wicked This Way Comes explores themes of life and death during a different season from the previous novel: autumn. In this unforgettable quote, Bradbury strikes another aspect of death while once again echoing his opinions about life. Your actions and your experiences throughout your life are what matter most.

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