This is not a book. This is libel, slander, defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty... what you will. I am going to sing for you, a little off key perhaps, but I will sing.
For a good book has this quality, that it is not merely a petrifaction of its author, but that once it has been tossed behind, like Deucalion's little stone, it acquires a separate and vivid life of its own.
Tradition is but a meteor, which, if it once falls, cannot be rekindled. Memory, once interrupted, is not to be recalled. But written learning is a fixed luminary, which, after the cloud that had hidden it has passed away, is again bright in its proper station. So books are faithful repositories, which may be awhile neglected or forgotten, but when opened again, will again impart instruction.
Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.
Books in a large university library system: 2, 000,000. Books in an average large city library: 1 0,000. Average number of books in a chain bookstore: 30, 000. Books in an average neighborhood branch library: 20, 000.
The good of a book lies in its being read. A book is made up of signs that speak of other signs, which in their turn speak of things. Without an eye to read them, a book contains signs that produce no concepts; therefore it is dumb.
Books are fatal: they are the curse of the human race. Nine-tenths of existing books are nonsense, and the clever books are the refutation of that nonsense. The greatest misfortune that ever befell man was the invention of printing.
Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason: they made no such demand upon those who wrote them. Those works, therefore, are the most valuable, that set our thinking faculties in the fullest operation. understand them.