How we cite our quotes:
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. (Economy.9)
Most people are miserable, even when they appear to be content. They're stuck in a rut, working for luxuries that they cannot afford. Way to be a total downer, Thoreau.
When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence – that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality. (Where I Lived.21)
For Thoreau, spiritual enlightenment isn't just about knowledge. It's a complete mood-changer, getting you in touch with the true pleasures in life.
The result [of reading trashy books] is dullness of sight, a stagnation of the vital circulations, and a general deliquium and sloughing off of all the intellectual faculties. (Reading.7)
We need good books in order to refine our ability to be happy. Trashy books only dull our senses, turning us into virtual zombies.