Master Books, But Do Not Let Them Master You. Read To Live, Not Live To Read

Creator: Edward Bulwer-Lytton, popular and prolific English writer

Context: Bulwer-Lytton wrote on this theme in 1848 within his novel “The Caxtons” which was serialized in “Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine”. A character in the story employed antimetabole cleverly when imparting guidance. Emphasis added to excerpt: 1

My father no longer sought to curb my intellectual aspirings. He had too great a reverence for scholarship not to wish me to become a scholar if possible; though he more than once said to me somewhat sadly, “Master books, but do not let them master you. Read to live, not live to read. One slave of the lamp is enough for a household; my servitude must not be a hereditary bondage.”

Related Article: Read In Order To Live.


  1. 1848 May, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 63, Number 391, The Caxtons, Part II, Chapter 7, (Serialized novel), Start Page 525, Quote Page 525, William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh, Scotland. (Google Books Full View) link