Most of what makes a book 'good' is that we are reading it at the right moment for us. Alain de Botton
portrait of the Grand Duchess Cathrine Alexeevna, as a young bride, around 1745.
I just finished Robert Massie's book Catherine the Great- Here is a passage that I marked,
Catherine refused to leave her room "until I felt strong enough to overcome my depression" (Catherine's words) She remained the entire winter of 1754-55 in this narrow, little room with its ill fitting windows through which freezing drafts blew...To shield herself and to make life bearable, she turned again to books. That winter she read the Annals of Tacitus, Montesquieu's L'Esprit des Lois(The Spirit of Laws), & Voltaire's Essai sur less Moeurs et l'Esprit des Nations(Essay on the Manners and Spirit of Nations). The work of Tacitus, she said, caused a singular revolution in my brain to which, perhaps the melancholy cast of my thoughts at this time contributed. I began to take a gloomier view of things and to look for deeper and more basic causes that really underlay and shaped the different events around me."