Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/143

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



THREE is a wide variety of motives any one of which may lead a person to become a reader. Sir John Herschel wrote:

Were I to pray for a taste that should stand me in stead under every variety of circumstances, and be a source of happiness and cheerfulness to me during life, and a shield against its ills, it would be a taste for reading.

A Suwanee reviewer deals with reading as an elegant pastime, the mental profit yielded by it being considered incidental. The reading of books as he thinks of it is to be classed with the viewing of pictures, a sort of esthetic exercise, delightful, uplifting, cultivating and, incidentally, informing, not resorted to, however, for the sake of information, at least not primarily for the sake of this, but for the refined pleasure to be derived from the exercise.

Reading for pleasure and diversion is perfectly legitimate when people have time and inclination for this; and it is well to urge those having time for it to cultivate also the inclination; but that is not the aspect of reading to which we would draw attention now. It is proposed to discuss reading as an earnest occupation, carried on with the direct purpose of drilling and storing the mind, its pleasurable and esthetic results, important as they are in themselves, being quite secondary. The theme, then, is reading as a distinct, invaluable, and too little recognized educational resource.

Consider first the very great encouragements to reading which now exist, and then note certain methods for responding to these encouragements, for utilizing the magnificent and ever-improving opportunities to read profitably opened to all in our modern life.

A cordial invitation to wide reading is extended by the presence all about us of ample literature, representing every department of thought, in forms perfectly convenient and incredibly cheap.

Carlyle said:

Of all things which men do make here below by far the most momentous, wonderful and worthy are the things we call books.

And Macaulay:

I would rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books than a king who did not love reading.