Who said: "Read the best books first..."

BookBrowse's Favorite Quotes

"Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all." - Henry David Thoreau

Henry David ThoreauThoreau's words are even more relevant today than they were in his time. According to So Many Books, the cumulative bibliography of the world was about 3.3 million titles in 1850 - around the time Thoreau wrote this; today it is more than 60 million!

Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817. He began his lifelong habit of journal keeping while at Harvard. After graduating in 1837 he taught briefly but resigned to protest the use of corporal punishment on the students, specifically whippings.

Shortly afterwards, he and his brother, John Thoreau, opened a private school in Concord based on Transcendentalism (the popular literary and philosophical movement that asserted the primacy of the spiritual and transcendental over the material and empirical, and apparently grew from a desire to create an uniquely American body of literature and philosophy to mirror the independence that America had enjoyed politically since 1776).

The school was closed when John fell ill (and later died) and Thoreau moved in with Ralph Waldo Emerson (one of the founders of Transcendentalism), where he continued writing his journals.

Although some of his work was published during his lifetime, such as Walden, Or Life In the Woods (1854), he was little known outside his immediate circle. Most of his writing was not published until after his death in 1862; and his reputation as a major literary figure was not established until the 20th century.

More Quotes

This quote & biography originally ran in an issue of BookBrowse's membership magazine. Full Membership Features & Benefits.

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.