The following quotes were excerpted from The Book Lovers' Anthology, an anthology edited by The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. The book is a collection of quotes about the joys and importance of reading.
May I a small house and large garden have!
And a few friends, and many books, both true.
-Abraham Cowley, The Wish
The Pleasure Derived from Books
It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive from the best books. They impress us with the conviction that one nature wrote, and the same reads. We read the verses of one of the great English poets, of Chaucer, of Marvell, of Dryden, with the most modern joy, -- with a pleasure, I mean, which is in great part caused by the abstraction of all time from their verses. There is some awe mixed with the joy of our surprise, when this poet, who lived in some past world, two or three hundred years ago, says that which lies close to my own soul, that which I also had wellnigh thought and said.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Scholar
Old Authors to Read
Alonso of Aragon was wont to say, in commendation of Age, that Age appeared to be best in four things; Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
-Francis Bacon, Apophthegme
Liberty and Bad Books
The men who died to buy us liberty knew that it was better to let in a thousand bad books than shut out one good one. We cannot, then, silence evil books, but we can turn away our eyes from them; we can take care that what we read, and what we let others read, should be good and wholesome.
-Charles Kingsley, Village Sermons: On Books
Only a Novel
‘What are you reading, Miss ----?’ ‘Oh! It’s only a novel!’ replies the young lady; while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. ‘It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda’; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed; in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit or humour, are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.
-Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
The Secret Influence of Books
Books have always a secret influence on the understanding: we cannot at pleasure obliterate ideas; he that reads books of science, though without any fixed desire of improvement, will grow more knowing; he that entertains himself with moral or religious treatises will imperceptibly advance in goodness; the ideas which are often offered to the mind will at last find a lucky moment when it is disposed to receive them.
-Samuel Johnson, Adventurer
Read Few Books Well
Read few books well. We forget names and dates; and reproach our memory. They are of little consequence. We feel our limbs enlarge and strengthen; yet cannot tell the dinner or the dish that caused the alteration. Our minds improve though we cannot name the author and have forgotten the particulars. Read all books through; and bad books most carefully, lest you should lose one good thought, being determined never to look into them again. A man may read a great deal too much.
-J. Horne Tooke, Recollections of S. Rogers