English Essay on “The Art of Reading” for School, College Students, Long and Short English Essay, Speech for Class 8, 9, 10, 12 and Competitive Exams.

The Art of Reading

People who have no taste for reading are to be pitied. They miss one of the purest pleasures of life. But of those who read much, some read too little for no profit. This may be due to one, or both, of two reasons. They may read the wrong kinds of books, or they may read the right books in a wrong way. The art of reading concerns the choice of books, and the right reading of the books chosen.

Ruskin divided books into two classes–books for the hour, and books for all time. A book for the hour “is simply the useful or pleasant talk of some person whom you cannot otherwise converse with, printed for you”; for example, bright accounts of travel, witty and wise discussions on current questions, light fiction, and so on. There is no harm in reading such books ; but it is a great mistake to allow such light reading take the place of the study of true books – books for all time, the classics of literature. Such great books have stood the test of time, and preserve the highest thought of the world’s great thinkers. It is the right reading of such treasuries of wisdom that gives the mind true culture; for, as Matthew Arnold says, “Culture is the contact with the best that has been said and thought in the world”. A great book is a book that is great in matter and in style; it is great thought greatly expressed.

Bacon, in his essay “Of studies”, says: “Some books are to be tasted, some to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. That is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously ; and some few to be read wholly and with diligence and attention.” This means that there are different ways of reading different types of books. Ruskin’s “books for the hour” may be tasted or swallowed ; but his “books for all time” are to be “chewed and digested”; that is “read wholly, and with diligence and attention”.

A book that is worth reading is worth reading with care and thought. The art of reading is to think while you read, so as to digest thoroughly the thought expressed. If you do not at once grasp the full purport of a passage, go back and read it again till you do. Also, read critically ; do not swallow all you read without chewing it first, turning it over in your mind and considering from every angle. You may skip through a light book of the hour ; but a real and great book should be studied, and read again and again. As Bacon says: “Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider”.

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