Me, poor man, my library was a dukedom large enough!…. So, of his gentleness, knowing I lov’d my books, he furnish’d me from my own library with volumes that I prize above my dukedom! (Prospero in The Tempest by William Shakespeare)
To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.
A. C. Grayling
A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.”
The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.
To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.”
Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed.”
Reading has at all times and in all ages been a source of knowledge, of happiness, of pleasure and even moral courage. In today’s world with so much more to know and to learn and also the need for a conscious effort to conquer the divisive forces, the importance of reading has increased. In the olden days if reading was not cultivated or encouraged, there was a substitute for it in the religious sermon and in the oral tradition. The practice of telling stories at bed time compensated to some extent for the lack of reading. In the nineteenth century Victorian households used to get together for an hour or so in the evenings and listen to books being read aloud. But today we not only read, we also want to read more and more and catch up with the events taking place around us. The various courses and classes being conducted in rapid reading support this belief.
The amount of reading one should get through is of course nobody’s business. There is no end to it for there is a variety of subjects to read about. The daily newspaper or the popular magazine while it discusses topical issues and raised controversies, it also provokes thought and throws light on human nature. It brings the news of wars, rebellions, organizations, political stances, heroic deeds etc., together and helps knit a world of some sort. There is then the serious reading undertaken for research and for satisfying one’s longing for knowledge. It may be a subject of scientific significance, or a subject of historic or philosophic importance – varying according to the taste of the person. This kind of reading disciplines the mind and trains one for critical and original thinking. There is yet another kind of reading -reading for pleasure. Though serious reading is also a source of pleasure, reading which is devoted mainly to it differs in one respect. It grows upon one, it gives before demanding and it soothes and relieves tension and loneliness. The only kind of reading which neither stimulates thought nor provides knowledge is one which is approached negatively, with the simple motive of escape and of “killing” time.
A person who is widely read is able to mix with others: he is a better conversationalist than those who do not read. He can stand his ground. Reading broadens the vision. it is in a way a substitute for travel. It is not possible to travel as much as one would like to and reading can fill in the gap created by the lack of travel. “Reading”, as Bacon wrote in his essay. ‘Of Studies’. “maketh a full man: conference a ready man: and writing an exact man”. Thus a widely-read man is a better conversationalist and is able to see the other point of view.
Literature is a form of art which can cross barriers and if one does not know the language in which a piece of literature is written, one is willing sometimes to learn the language. Even if one does not learn a language one reads the literary work in translation. This contributes to the growth of understanding and tolerance amongst people. Reading also helps one to see the present in relation to the past and the future, and thus develop a historical perspective.
Care is needed to ensure that reading does not become a substitute for real life. The moment one ceases to enjoy the ordinary pleasures and happiness of life and is content to enjoy them vicariously through fictional and historical representations, one loses all the benefits of reading and loses contact with life.
With the cinema and television taking up a great deal of attention of children, teenagers and even adults, the habit of serious reading is dying out. People are content to read abridged versions. see films, go through illustrated comics and be content. But just as reading should not become a substitute for the joy of living or drive out the other forms of entertainment, other substitutes should not be accepted for the pleasure of reading which lies in the act itself. One may be selective, may be discriminating but no one can afford to shut himself off from this rich and ever-growing world of literature.
Reading is one of the best hobbies a person can have. But it’s saddening to know that majority of us aren’t introduced to the fabulous world of books. If you are one of the non-book readers who feels you “don’t need no stinking books”, here are some reasons to start the habit…before you are left behind!
Reading is an active mental process: Unlike sitting in front of the idiot box (TV), reading makes you use your brain. While reading you would be forced to reason out many things which are unfamiliar to you. In this process you would use the grey cells of your brain to think and become smarter.
Reading improves your vocabulary: Remember in elementary school when you learned how to infer the meaning of one word by reading the context of the other words in the sentence? You get the same benefit from book reading. While reading books, especially challenging ones, you will find yourself exposed to many new words you wouldn’t be otherwise.
Gives you a glimpse into other cultures and places of the world: How would you know about the life of people in Mexico if you don’t read about it? Reading gives you an insight into the diversity of ethnicity of people, their customs, their lifestyles etc. You become more aware about the different places and the code of conduct in those places.
Improves concentration and focus: It requires you to focus on what you are reading for long periods. Unlike magazines, Internet posts or e-Mails that might contain small chunks of information, books tell the whole story. Since you must concentrate in order to read, like a muscle, you will get better at concentration.
Builds self-esteem: The more you read, the more knowledgeable you become. With more knowledge comes more confidence. More confidence builds self-esteem. So it’s a chain reaction. Since you are so well read, people look to you for answers. Your feelings about yourself can only get better.
Improves memory: Many studies show if you don’t use your memory, you lose it. Crossword puzzles are an example of a word game that staves off Alzheimer’s. Reading, although not a game, helps you stretch your memory muscles in a similar way. Reading requires remembering details, facts and figures and in literature, plot lines, themes and characters.
Improves your discipline: Making time to read is something we all know we should do, but who schedules book reading time every day? Very few… That’s why adding book reading to your daily schedule and sticking to it, improves discipline.
Improves creativity: Reading about diversity of life and exposing yourself to new ideas and more information helps to develop the creative side of the brain as it imbibes innovation into your thinking process.
You always have something to talk about: Have you ever found yourself in an embarrassing situation where you didn’t have anything to talk about? Did you hate yourself for making a fool of yourself? Do you want a remedy for this? It’s simple. Start reading. Reading widens your horizon of information. You’ll always have something to talk about. You can discuss various plots in the novels you read, you can discuss the stuff you are learning in the business books you are reading as well. The possibilities of sharing become endless.
Reduces boredom: One of the rules I have is if I am feeling bored, I will pick up a book and start reading. What I’ve found by sticking to this is that I become interested in the book’s subject and stop being bored. I mean, if you’re bored anyway, you might as well be reading a good book, right?
If you want to break the monotony of a lazy, uncreative and boring life, go and grab an interesting book. Turn the pages to explore a new world filled with information and ingenuity.
Writers and Writing
To hell with reality! I want to die in music, not in reason or in prose. People don’t deserve the restraint we show by not going into delirium in front of them. To hell with them!
Increased literacy means that more people is reading than ever before, but the majority read dull newspapers, trivial magazines, gossip news, popular fiction or facebook and twitter posts, not the work of committed and obscure authors. I always viewed the public and its tastes with the greatest suspicion and I have never sought a vast success. As a result I will finish into that great majority of minority writers, or the great unread, just as my modernist predecessors. I am not a spokesman of my age, but I consider myself a traditional revolutionary and anarchist writer, I believe in old and new values and I struggle against stupidity in all its forms, but as a member of the most secret avant-garde I can’t be read by a wide public and personally I am almost proud and glad of it.
Carl William Brown
You can’t write any comments on my blogs, I am not interested in reading them and what’s more I don’t like spam!
Carl William Brown
P.S. If you want to promote yourself and write something on our sites, or publish your advertisements and take some active part in our artistic experience first you must contact us, using our mail address or our Twitter and Facebook pages. See you soon and keep fit! Bye, bye!
Carl William Brown