Some literary sources advise to read fewer books, but read them with greater care. Matthew Arnold gave it as his opinion that the best literature was to be found within the covers of five hundred books. Daniel Webster preferred to master a few books rather than to read indiscriminately. It was his contention that reading a few great writers who have built up the permanent literature of the English language, well mastered, was better than skimming a multitude of ephemeral works.
Hobbs, the English philosopher, once said, “If I had read as many books as other people, I would know as little.” Charles H. Spurgeon counseled his students: “Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them, masticate them and digest them… A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed”
Canon Yates suggested that when one has found a book really worth digesting, that three readings are required to absorb its contents. The first reading should be rapid and continuous. The second reading should be careful, slow, and detailed making notes. After an interval, the third reading should be fairly rapid and continuous, and a brief analysis should be written in the back of the book*.
“Some books are to be tasted,
Others to be swallowed,
And some few to be chewed and digested” (Francis Bacon)
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
*Quote from Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership (Chicago: Moody Press, 1967), 99-102.