From his Notebooks, (the best Emerson to read, in my view) circa 1841:
We are too civil to books. For a few golden sentences we will turn over & actually read a volume of 4 or 500 pages. Even the great books. “Come,” say they, “we will give you the key to the world” — Each poet each philosopher says this, & we expect to go like a thunderbolt to the centre, but the thunder is a superficial phenomenon, makes a skin-deep cut, and so does the Sage — whether Confucius, Menu, Zoroaster, Socrates; striking at right angles to the globe his force is instantly diffused laterally & enters not. The wedge turns out to be a rocket. I have found this to be the case with every book I have read & yet I take up a new writer with a sort of pulse beat of expectation.