Read Old Books Now



“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.” - Mile Bertin

There is a lot of wisdom in old books. Yes, we’ve all heard that, but how many low hanging fruits are out there in ancient texts? According to the book The Morning of the Magicians, a lot.

The authors of the book provide numerous examples. The most extreme example is that the location and extent of gold in California was well known, in books and other materials, for centuries before the gold rush started in 1848, yet no one cared enough to dig:

I haven’t been able to find the Gazette de Hollande article with the exact coordinates, but I did find the Natural and Civil History of California (Actual: 1739, published: 1757)

A few sections from the book pertaining to gold and silver mines (Keep in mind: Old English text uses an ‘f’ character to represent the soft ‘s’, i.e. house was spelled ‘houfe’):


So we should heed to Joseph Joubert’s words: “Nothing makes men so impudent and conceited as ignorance of the past and a scorn for old books.”

There are countless ‘golden nuggets’ (both literal and figurative) to be found in old books.

Rivarol - “Every State is a mystery ship with its anchor in the sky,’ so it could be said, in speaking of time, that the ship of the future has its anchors in the sky of the past. Forgetfulness alone threatens us with the worst shipwrecks.”

Read old books.

Thanks to @wrathofgnon for finding the initial passage.

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Isaac Asimov, the famous science fiction writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, described libraries in the most astute terms:

It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you — and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.