Thoreau encourages reading, although he admits that even he had trouble finishing his copy of Homer's Iliad while he was farming.
According to our author, reading ancient Greek authors such as Homer and Aeschylus (go ahead and try to pronounce that one) in the original Greek is crucial to a real education. It requires a kind of slow, intense process of reading that trashy books just don't (nothing against Nora Roberts).
Real literature is closest to life, he says, and it is essential to bringing out man's intellectual potential.
Thoreau proposes that the entire village become a university – why should learning be confined to just a few students at university? Working together, the entire village could collectively generate wisdom, and ultimately a better life.