Bad books are like intoxicating drinks; they furnish neither nourishment, nor medicine. Both improperly excite; the one the mind; the other by body. The desire for each increases by being fed. Both ruin; one the intellect; the other the health; and together, the soul. The safeguard against each is the same - total abstinence from all that intoxicates either body or mind.
In the first place, the human mind, no matter how highly trained, is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many tongues. The little child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books - a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind to God. And because I believe this, I am not an atheist.
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, weight 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 live too much in books and not enough in nature, and we are very much like the simpleton of a Pliny the Younger, who went on studying a Greek author while before his eyes Vesuvius was overwhelming five cities beneath the ashes.
I have ever gained the most profit, and the most pleasure also, from the books which have made me think the most: and, when the difficulties have once been overcome, these are the books which have struck the deepest root, not only in my memory and understanding, but likewise in my affections.
All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.
A single mind can acquire a fair knowledge of the whole field of science, and find plenty of time to spare for ordinary human affairs. Not many people take the trouble to do so. But without a knowledge of science one cannot understand current events. That is why our modern our modern literature and art are mostly so unreal.
Of all intellectual friendships, none are so beautiful as those which subsist between old and ripe men and their younger brethren in science or literature or art. It is by; these private friendships, even more than by public performance, that the tradition of sound thinking and great doing is perpetuated from age to age.
Somewhere among the youth of today are minds capable of discovering ways to world peace, ways to deeper and more fulfilling lives, ways to new appreciations of beauty in art or literature or music, just as there have been minds capable of splitting the atom. Ours is the task of breaking through the thought barrier which keeps our young people from realizing their creative potentiality.
Good books are to the young mind what the warming sun and the refreshing rain of spring are to the seeds which have lain dormant in the frosts of winter. They are more, for they may save from that which is worse than death, as well as bless with that which is better than life.
A myth is a collective 'dream' of an entire people at a certain point in their history... But a myth not only lives in literature and imagination, it immediately finds its way into the behavior and attitudes of the culture - into the practical daily lives of the people.