The Most Popular Quote From Little Women

When Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" was first published in 1869, it was immediately a sensation. It's not only a classic with legions of fans but has inspired female writers for generations. From Nora Ephron to Margaret Atwood to Simone de Beauvoir, the book's influence is undeniable. Most of those writers reference the character Jo March as the reason they're writers, with Susan Sontag saying in an interview that she'd have never become a writer if it weren't for Jo (via The New Yorker).

Jo, who was Alcott's alter ego, was ahead of her time. As Sarah Lyell wrote of the character in The New Times on the novel's 150th anniversary: "...independent, unconventional, irreverent, impatient, devoted to her writing... Jo has always appealed to tomboys, rebels, and freethinkers, her passion for creativity providing aspiring writers with a glimpse of how to operate in the world."

Although the premise isn't exactly groundbreaking — four sisters coming of age in a New England town during the Civil War — Alcott's gift for the written word and the stories about those four sisters is what makes "Little Women" so lovable. "Little Women" is so adored that it was first adapted for the stage in 1912, with multiple stage adaptions since then. It's also been made into a movie seven times, with the most recent adaptation directed by Greta Gerwig, who cast Saoirse Ronan in the role of Jo.

While "Little Women" is chockfull of phenomenal quotes, there's one quote that readers go back to time and time again.

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Yes, according to Insider, "I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship" is one of the most popular quotes from "Little Women." And, despite the fact that it's Jo who's the most independent of the bunch, it's her sister Amy who says this line after she has married Laurie and is asked about their future plans together.

This quote is one of several in the book that involves the mention of storms. At one point in the novel, Beth says to Jo, "You are the gull, Jo, strong and wild, fond of the storm and the wind, flying far out to sea, and happy all alone" (via Shmoop).

Although both these uses of "storm" are beautiful and speak to the strength of each character, it's interesting that while Amy isn't afraid of storms, Jo is fond of them — showing how different these two sisters are. And, for those who haven't read "Little Women," Jo and Amy are polar opposites — Amy does burn Jo's manuscript, after all.

Similar books to Little Women

While there will never be another Louisa May Alcott or "Little Women," there are other coming-of-age novels out there that are classics in their own right and worth reading. Oprah Daily put together a list of 16 such books that include "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," by Betty Smith, which is also somewhat autobiographical; "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving, which also takes place in New England; "My Brilliant Friend" by Elena Ferrante, which is a four-book saga; and "Dominicana" by Angie Cruz.

Although Alcott would go on to write several other books, including "Good Wives" and "Little Men," it's "Little Women" that's the classic and the one that consistently finds itself on lists for the greatest or best novels of all time (via The Guardian). Its impact on our culture and on the lives of everyone who's ever read it can be seen near and far. Not unlike "Sex and the City," where the audience tends to define themselves as a Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, or Miranda, the same can be said for the March sisters. You might be a Jo, Beth, Amy, or Meg — or maybe a Laurie instead.