The Homestead library was once filled floor-to-ceiling with books. Dickinson, a voracious reader, wrote in a letter to her trusted mentor Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “Father…buys me many Books—but begs me not to read them—because he fears they joggle the mind” (L261). Dickinson read a wide variety of literature: novels, essays, poetry, religious texts, scientific books, popular periodicals, and newspapers. Her poems are filled with allusions to the vast catalog of material she was exposed to over the course of her reading life.
Emily Dickinson to T.W. Higginson (L261), April 25, 1862, in The Letters of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1958), 2:404.