I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy.
I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn't shake us awake like a blow on the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we'd be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.
You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.
So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.
One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.
We are separated from God on two sides; the Fall separates us from Him, the Tree of Life separates Him from us.