Reading of light literature is a useful occupation for leisure hours. It does not entail any great mental strain, and the reading provides the required relaxation and recreation.
Good novels give us an insight into human character, and · an easy and interesting description of social problems. Social vices and defects are exposed, and we learn a good many practical lessons from novels.
Of course, there are good novels and bad novels. The latter are very dangerous to morals. They rouse the passions, and create false sensations and excitement. This is bad for the normal and healthy development of mind. The exaggerated descriptions and vivid realistic pictures cause abnormal excitement, and thus the one great advantage of reading such books, that is, light refreshment disappears, and the low, artificial scenes, brought before the mind, absorb so much attention that we forget everything else. Reading of such low kind of books engenders a taste and a craving for morbid sensationalism, which is not at all healthy for us. Commonplace events cease to interest us, and we want something extraordinary, unusual. These unreal, imaginary characters and scenes create an unhealthy state of mind which ceases to take interest in ordinary affairs. The constant reader of such unhealthy literature, whose mind is fed on these unreal and untrue pictures, becomes incapable of any serious thinking.
We must, therefore, study only good novels. A good storyteller is a great moral teacher, and his method is the most instructive. These books are meant only for discursive reading and should not be allowed to take the place of serious reading. Novels should as far as possible be kept out of the path of young boys and girls, or only the best novels should be placed in their hands. Among writers of modern fiction, Bennet, Corelli, Wells, and Haggard may be mentioned as suitable for young readers. There is no better way of enlarging the vocabulary and improving the power of expression of a young student than the reading of novels.