I have often said, “Books don’t change people, paragraphs do — sometimes sentences.”
This may not be fair to books, since paragraphs find their way to us through books, and they often gain their peculiar power because of the context they have in the book. But the point remains: One sentence or paragraph may lodge itself so powerfully in our mind that its effect is enormous when all else is forgotten.
It might be useful to illustrate this with two books by Jonathan Edwards that have influenced me most. Here are the key paragraphs and lessons from these books. Most of the rest of their content I have long forgotten (but who knows what remains in the subconscious and has profound impact?).