A truly good book attracts very little favor to itself. It is so true that it teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down and commence living on its hint. When I read an indifferent book, it seems the best thing I can do, but the inspiring volume hardly leaves me leisure to finish its latter pages. It is slipping out of my fingers while I read. It creates no atmosphere in which it may be perused, but one in which its teachings may be practiced. It confers on me such wealth that I lay it down with regret. What I began by reading I must finish by acting.
Journal, 19 February 1841
It is not all books that are as dull as their readers.
Books, not which affords us a cowering enjoyment, but in which each thought is of unusual daring; such as an idle man cannot read, and a timid one would not be entertained by, which even make us dangerous to existing institutions—such call I good books.
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Many college text-books which were a weariness and a stumbling-block when studied, I have since read a little in with pleasure and profit.
Journal, 19 February 1854
If men were to be destroyed and the books they have written were to be transmitted to a new race of creatures, in a new world, what kind of record would be found in them of so remarkable a phenomenon as the rainbow?
Journal, 13 March 1859
The woodchopper reads the wisdom of the ages recorded on the paper that holds his dinner, then lights his pipe with it. When we ask for a scrap of paper for the most trivial use, it may have the confessions of Augustine or the sonnets of Shakespeare, and we not observe it. The student kindles his fire, the editor packs his trunk, the sportsman loads his gun, the traveler wraps his dinner, the Irishman papers his shanty, the schoolboy peppers the plastering, the belle pins up her hair, with the printed thoughts of men.
Journal, 10 March 1856
The book exists for us perchance which will explain our miracles and and reveal new ones. The at present unutterable things we may find somewhere uttered. These same questions that disturb and puzzle and confound us have in their turn occurred to all the wise men; not one has been omitted; and each has answered them, according to his ability, by his words and his life.
The Library is a wilderness of books.
Journal, 16 March 1852
We like to read a good description of no thing so well as that which we already know the best, as our friend, or ourselves even.
Journal, 13 October 1860
In books, that which is most generally interesting is what comes home to the most cherished private experience of the greatest number. It is not the book of him who has traveled the farthest over the surface of the globe, but of him who has lived the deepest and been the most at home.
Journal, 20 November 1857