C. S. Lewis on the value of reading old books:
Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook—even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. … To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.
The quote comes from an introduction he wrote for a translation of On the Incarnation. In the same book, Lewis recommended reading one old book for every contemporary book or two. I agree that reading old books provides perspective on the present, and I do read old books from time to time, but I don’t come close his recommended ratio of old books.
What are some old books you’ve enjoyed or intend to read?
Update: Related post, Old math books