One must be rich in thought and character to owe nothing to books, though preparation is necessary to profitable reading; and the less reading is better than more:—book-struck men are of all readers least wise, however knowing or learned.
Reading serves for delight, for ornament, for ability.—The crafty contemn it; the simple admire it; the wise use it.
Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man; and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not.
Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
I read for three things: first, to know what the world has done during the last twenty-four hours, and is about to do today; second, for the knowledge that I specially want in my work; and third, for what will bring my mind into a proper mood.
It is well to read everything of something, and something of everything.
In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature the oldest. The classic literature is always modern. New books revive and redecorate old ideas; old books suggest and invigorate new ideas.
Reading without purpose is sauntering, not exercise. More is got from one book on which the thought settles for a definite end in knowledge, than from libraries skimmed over by a wandering eye. A cottage flower gives honey to the bee, a king's garden none to the butterfly.
To read without reflecting, is like eating without digesting.
It was from my own early experience that I decided there was no use to which moneycould be applied so productive of good to boys and girls who have good within them and ability and ambition to develop it as the founding of a public library.
They that have read about everything are thought to understand everything too; but it is not always so. Reading furnishes the mind only with the materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours. We are of the ruminating kind, and it is not enough to cram ourselves with a great load of collections. Unless we chew them over again, they will not give us strength and nourishment.
Happy is he who has laid up in his youth, and held fast in all fortune, a genuine and passionate love for reading.
There are four kinds of readers. The first is like the hour-glass; and their reading being as the sand, it runs in and runs out, and leaves not a vestige behind. A second is like the sponge, which imbibes everything, and returns it in nearly the same state, only a little dirtier. A third is like a jelly-bag, allowing all that is pure to pass away, and retaining only the refuse and dregs. And the fourth is like the slaves in the diamond mines of Golconda, who, casting aside all that is worthless, retain only pure gems.
Force yourself to reflect on what you read, paragraph by paragraph.
By reading a man does, as it were, antedate his life, and make himself contemporary with past ages.
When in reading we meet with any maxim that may be of use, we should take it for our own, and make an immediate application of it, as we would of the advice of a friend whom we have purposely consulted.
By reading, we enjoy the dead; by conversation, the living; and by contemplation, ourselves. Reading enriches the memory; conversation polishes the wit; and contemplation improves the judgment. Of these, reading is the most important, as it furnishes both the others.
Some read to think, these are rare; some to write, these are common; some to talk, and these are the great majority.—The first page of an author frequently suffices all the purposes of this latter class, of whom it has been said, they treat books, as some do lords, inform themselves of their titles, and then boast of an intimate acquaintance.
Read, and refine your appetite; learn to live upon instruction; feast your mind and mortify your flesh; read, and take your nourishment in at your eyes, shut up your mouth, and chew the cud of understanding.
Read, read, search, and refine your appetite; learn to live upon instruction; feast your mind and mortify your flesh.—Read and take your nourishment in all your eyes; shut up your mouth, and chew the cud of understanding.
Every book salesman is an advance agent for culture and for better citizenship, for education and for the spread of intelligence.
If a book is dull, that is a matter between itself and its maker; but if it makes me duller than I should otherwise have been, I have a grievance.
The man who is fond of books is usually a man of lofty thought, and of elevated opinions.
Always have a book at hand, in the parlor, on the table, for the family; a book of condensed thought and striking anecdote, of sound maxims and truthful apothegms. It will impress on your own mind a thousand valuable suggestions, and teach your children a thousand lessons of truth and duty. Such a book is a casket of jewels for your household.
Think as well as read, and when you read. Yield not your minds to the passive impressions which others may make upon them. Hear what they have to say; but examine it, weigh it, and judge for yourselves. This will enable you to make a right use of books—to use them as helpers, not as guides to your understanding; as counselors, not as dictators of what you are to think and believe.
We should be as careful of the books we read, as of the company we keep. The dead very often have more power than the living.
One must be an inventor to read well.—As the proverb says, "He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry out the wealth of the Indies."—There is creative reading as well as creative writing.—When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world.
If we encountered a man of rare intellect we should ask him what books he read.
Reading should be in proportion to thinking, and thinking in proportion to reading.
If the riches of the Indies, or the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe, were laid at my feet in exchange for my love of reading, I would spurn them all.
Leibnitz has obtained this fruit from his great reading, that he has a mind better exercised for receiving all sorts of ideas, more susceptible of all forms, more accessible to that which is new and even opposed to him, more indulgent to human weakness, more disposed to favorable interpretations, and more industrious to find them.
A man of ability, for the chief of his reading, should select such works as he feels are beyond his own power to have produced. What can other books do for him but waste his time or augment his vanity?
The pleasure of reading without application is a dangerous pleasure. Useless books we should lay aside, and make all possible good use of those from which we may reap some fruit.
Few are sufficiently sensible of the importance of that economy in reading which selects, almost exclusively, the very first order of books.—Why should a man, except for some special reason, read an inferior book at the very time he might be reading one of the highest order.
When there is no recreation or business for thee abroad, thou mayst then have a company of honest old fellows, in leathern jackets, in thy study, which may find thee excellent divertisement at home.
Thou mayest as well expect to grow stronger by always eating as wiser by always reading. Too much overcharges nature, and turns more into disease than nourishment. It is thought and digestion which make books serviceable, and give health and vigor to the mind.
There are three classes of readers: some enjoy without judgment; others judge without enjoyment; and some there are who judge while they enjoy, and enjoy while they judge. The latter class reproduces the work of art on which it is engaged.—Its numbers are very small.
The first time I read an excellent work, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend; and when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting with an old one.
It is wholesome and bracing for the mind to have its faculties kept on the stretch. It is like the effect of a walk in Switzerland, upon the body. Reading an essay of Bacon's for instance, or a chapter of Aristotle, or of Butler, if it be well and thoughtfully read, is much like climbing up a hill, and may do one the same sort of good. Set the tortoise to run against the hare, and even if he does not overtake it, he will do more than ever he did previously—more than he would ever have thought himself capable of doing. Set the hare to run with the tortoise, he falls asleep.
Read much, but not many works.
When I take up a book I have read before I know what to expect; and the satisfaction is not lessened by being anticipated, I shake hands with and look the old tried and valued friend in the face, compare notes, and chat the hour away.
By conversing with the mighty dead we imbibe sentiment with knowledge. We become strongly attached to those who can no longer either hurt or serve us, except through the influence which they exert over the mind. We feel the presence of that power which gives immortality to human thoughts and actions, and catch the flame of enthusiasm from all nations and ages.
There is a gentle, but perfectly irresistible coercion in a habit of reading well directed, over the whole tenor of a man's character and conduct, which is not the least effectual because it works insensibly and because it is really the last thing he dreams of.
If I were to pray for a taste which should stand me under every variety of circumstances, and be a source of happiness and cheerfulness to me through life, and a shield against its ills, however things might go amiss and the world frown upon me, it would be a taste for reading. Give a man this taste, and the means of gratifying it and you can hardly fail of making him happy. You make him a denizen of all nations, a contemporary of all ages.
Had I read as much as others, I had remained as ignorant as they.
One of the amusements of idleness is reading without the fatigue of close attention, and the world, therefore, swarms with writers whose wish is not to be studied but to be read.
For general improvement, a man should read whatever his immediate inclination prompts him to; though if he has a science to learn, he must regularly and resolutely advance. What we read with inclination makes a stronger impression. If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention, so there is but half to be employed on what we read. If a man begins to read in the middle of a book, and feels an inclination to go on, let him not quit it to go to the beginning. He may perhaps not feel again the inclination.
The foundation of knowledge must be laid by reading. General principles must be had from books, which, however, must be brought to the test of real life. In conversation you never get a system. What is said upon a subject is to be gathered from a hundred people. The parts of a truth, which a man gets thus, are at such a distance from each other that he never attains to a full view.
One ought to read just as inclination takes him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good.
What is twice read is commonly better remembered than what is transcribed.
Some read books only with a view to find fault, while others read only to be taught: the former are like venomous spiders, extracting a poisonous quality, where the latter, like the bees, sip out a sweet and profitable juice.
Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking makes what we read ours. So far as we apprehend and see the connection of ideas, so far it is ours; without that it is so much loose matter floating in our brain.
A page digested is better than a volume hurriedly read.
As you grow ready for it, somewhere or other, you will find what is needful for you in a book.
Resolve to edge in a little reading every day, if it is but a single sentence.—If you gain fifteen minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of the year.
Deep versed in books, but shallow in himself.
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.
The love of reading enables a man to exchange the wearisome hours of life, which come to everyone, for hours of delight.
Much reading, like a too great repletion, stops up, through a course of diverse, sometimes contrary opinions, the access of a nearer, newer, and quicker invention of your own.
Even with all the leisure in the world and an income large enough to gratify all desires, men will seldom read serious books at the rate of twenty a year.
He picked something valuable out of everything he read.
No man can read with profit that which he cannot learn to read with pleasure. If I do not find in a book something which I am looking for, or am ready to receive, then the book is no book for me however much it may be for another man.
Read not books alone, but men, and amongst them chiefly thyself.—If thou find anything questionable there, use the commentary of a severe friend, rather than the gloss of a sweet-lipped flatterer; there is more profit in a distasteful truth than in deceitful sweetness.
Multifarious reading weakens the mind more than doing nothing, for it becomes a necessity, at last, like smoking: and is an excuse for the mind to lie dormant whilst thought is poured in, and runs through, a clear stream over unproductive gravel, on which not even mosses grow. It is the idlest of all idleness, and leaves more of impotency than any other.
I read hard, or not at all; never skimming, and never turning aside to merely inviting books; and Plato, Aristotle, Butler, Thucydides, Jonathan Edwards, have passed, like the iron atoms of the blood, into my mental constitution.
There was so much of splendor and of glory, there was so much of wonder and delight, that there can be no ending of our story although the book is closed and it is night.
Exceedingly well read and profited in strange concealments.
How well he is read to reason against reading.
It is manifest that all government of action is to be gotten by knowledge, and knowledge, best, by gathering many knowledges, which is reading.
Imprint the beauties of authors upon your imagination, and their good morals upon your heart.
We should accustom the mind to keep the best company by introducing it only to the best books.
What blockheads are those wise persons, who think it necessary that a child should comprehend everything it reads.
Reading is seeing by proxy.
Insist on reading the great books, on marking the great events of the world. Then the little books can take care of themselves, and the trivial incidents of passing politics and diplomacy may perish with the using.
The mind should be accustomed to make wise reflections, and draw curious conclusions as it goes along; the habit of which made Pliny the Younger affirm that he never read a book so bad but he drew some profit from it.
One may as well be asleep as to read for anything but to improve his mind and morals, and regulate his conduct.
The average person cannot over-read without peril of mental plethora, any more than he can overfeed with impunity. Literary dissipation is as weakening in its effects as dissipation of any other kind.
A discursive student is almost certain to fall into bad company. Homes of entertainment, scientific and romantic, are always open to a man who is trying to escape from his thoughts. But a shelter from the tempest is dearly bought in the house of the plague. Ten minutes with a French novel or a German rationalist have sent a reader away with a fever for life.
Get a habit, a passion for reading; not flying from book to book, with the squeamish caprice of a literary epicure; but read systematically, closely, thoughtfully, analyzing every subject as you go along, and laying it up carefully and safely in your memory. It is only by this mode that your information will be at the same time extensive, accurate, and useful.
You may glean knowledge by reading, but you must separate the chaff from the wheat by thinking.
Never read a book through merely because you have begun it.
The man whom neither riches nor luxury nor grandeur can render happy may, with a book in his hand, forget all his troubles under the friendly shade of every tree, and may experience pleasures as infinite as they are varied, as pure as they are lasting, as lively as they are unfading, and as compatible with every public duty as they are contributory to private happiness.