The Pleasures of Reading
Says the poet
“My days among the dead are past
Around me I behold
Wherever these casual eyes are cast
The mighty minds of old
My never failing failing friends are they
With whom I converse day by day.”
Reading a book is perhaps the greatest source of pleasure to a cultured person. Reading broadens his outlook, drives away his narrow prejudices and lightens up his mind with truth and knowledge.
Books are our best friends. They never deceive or desert us in our hour of need like so many of our human friends. And the advantages once received from the reading of books remain with us throughout our lives.
It is a great pleasure for us to read the books of the master minds of the past who have brightened up the ages with the strength and beauty of their vision. As we read their books, we seem to see them appear before us. We seem to talk with them and they also seem to instruct us through the medium of their books. Reading the great poetry of the past we seem to be carried away to a kingdom of joy and forgetfulness, a kingdom where there is no care, no worry, no anxiety. We come to be acquainted with the master minds of the world like Valmiki, Kalidas, Tagore, Shakespeare, Milton and Shelley, Shaw, Yeats and Owen and many others through the medium of their literary productions and feel inspired by their beauty, grace and idealism.
Reading books is also one way of passing our spare time. A person given to the reading of books can never find time hanging heavily on him. When you have time and no work to do take a book from the shelf, and time will pass pleasantly. Reading also relieves us of our mental suffering. When one is struck down with sorrow he may, with a book in his hand, forget all his trouble in the comfort of his bedroom or under the shade of a tree.
Reading not only gives us pleasure, it also enriches our mind. Through books we can reap the advantage from the experience of noble minds. Through it we come to have a keener insight into life and its problems, and a lasting interest in our neighbours and surroundings. Life does not have a dull and monotonous aspect any longer but in every page we come across fresh wonders and mysteries waiting for us.
We have, however, to be very careful in our selection of books to read. In the world of today, we find countless writers writing very large numbers of books—good, bad and in-different. Before the invention of the printing press it was difficult for a man to get hold of the manuscript of a good book but now due to the great number of books available for reading it has become very difficult for us to choose what books to read and what to reject. The selection of proper books has now become a matter of great interest, as well as necessity to the reader. Luckily we are called up to select our reading only when we have finished our educational career. During the years spent in the school and college, the student gets very little time for selective reading as he has to concentrate his attention towards the text books prescribed in the schools and colleges.
True education only begins when our educational career ends. A young graduate in the course of his conversation with his old professor, proudly remarked, “I have just finished my education”. “Have you?” replied the grey-haired professor, “I have just begun mine.” The statement is quite true. Every man of true education and culture is a student all his life. And it is only the men with a mature mind and deep knowledge who can properly select books for his reading. He can get an insight into the merits of a book by simply glancing over a few pages here and there and can quickly decide which books are to be tasted, which are to be chewed and which are to be digested”. It is only he who can get proper enlightenment and interest from his reading of books.
Far more numerous are the people who do not take so much care in their selection of reading material. They generally read a book only to pass an idle hour without taking care of what they are reading. And the danger lies in the fact that there are not many good books available in comparison with the large amount of cheap books we find circulating around us. People read any sort of books with object of killing time but in the process they end by killing their souls also. So in order to be a good reader one must be selective in one’s reading. He should also read faithfully with his best attention in all kinds of things in which he has a real interest and which he finds to be really fit for what he is engaged in.