"We are underbred and low-lived and illiterate; and in this respect I confess I do not make any very broad distinction between the illiterateness of my townsman who cannot read at all and the illiterateness of him who has learned to read only what is for children and feeble intellects."
Yay! At last, another weekend quote to feature on this blog. This time it is Thoreau's. I truly love his idea on reading. What is the benefit of one's ability if he never uses it? He who is able to read but reads nothing has no advantage over him who cannot read at all. The disadvantage, on the contrary, is that he has put effort to learn how to read but never reads anyway.
That being said, reading as Thoreau here writes, involves more than just reading whatever your eyes meet. It's about choosing and choosing carefully what is to read. There are too many books in the universe to read in one's lifetime, so reading 'whatever' is not the best option there is. Thoreau mentions the books of antiquity, such as the Bible (which I still struggle to finish), the Greeks and the Romans.
It doesn't mean, of course, that reading other 'lighter' books is useless. No! But Thoreau reminds us not to neglect amazing literatures of the past. "For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man?" he asked.
By the way, that's the quote that I will (hopefully) discuss on this blog next. Happy weekend.