What makes a book great, a so-called classic, it its quality of always being modern, of its author, though he be long dead, continuing to speak to each new generation.
Unless their use by readers bring them to life, books are indeed dead things.
To achieve lasting literature, fictional or factual, a writer needs perceptive vision, absorptive capacity, and creative strength.
The good writer, the great writer, has what I have called the three S's: the power to see, to sense, and to say. That is, he is perceptive, he is feeling, and he has the power to express in language what he observes and reacts to.
I can speak of my own criterion for judging whether or not a book is good or bad. I ask of it a single question, From how deep and true an impulse did it spring? Was it written merely to shock? Only to make money? Or was it written to create something more perfect and more lasting than the life experience from which it came?
Books themselves need no defense. Their spokesmen come and go, their readers live and die, they remain constant.
A book is one of the most patient of all man's inventions. Centuries mean nothing to a well-made book. It awaits its destined reader, come when he may, with eager hand and seeing eye. Then occurs one of the great examples of union, that of a man with a book, pleasurable, sometimes fruitful, potentially world-changing, simple; and in a public library...without cost to the reader.