The invention of the printing press has flooded the market with books. The consequent increase in the number of readers possessing different tastes has led authors to write books suitable to these varying tastes, no matter whether they are good or bad. At the present day we find books which are of permanent benefit to readers, while there are others, again, which are only of a passing interest.
Under these circumstances, it becomes necessary to adopt some method in the selection and choice of books, or else there is the danger of being overwhelmed by them, or reading perhaps only those books which are had. The reading of books by making a random choice, instead of conferring any benefit on the reader, only serves to confuse him, without doing any good.
It is needless to say that there are both good and bad books. To ascertain it is necessary to consider which among them offer the best instruction. It must not be supposed that books which teach moral lessons are, as a rule, the most þeneficial. The standard of a good book is not the morality it preaches, but the extent to which it develops the thinking power and that it induces us to be moral. It follows, therefore, that the choice of books should be confined to those which supply the most valuable information and have quality enough to develop the intellect and form our character. It is sheer waste of time to read second or third-class books which do not increase knowledge. when first rate books are available.
Among the class of books generally regarded as the best, there are both dry and interesting ones. But because the natural tendency of the reader is towards the latter class, the former should not be set aside, for it is quite possible that even dry books may satisfy the required standard. Books which are interesting generally carry away the reader by virtue of their interest and the danger is that the reader of such books can only derive shallow knowledge from the reading. The interest of such books is so great that he has ‘not the time or capacity to go deep into them. Dry books, on the other hand, give to the reader at least some intellectual profit, for in reading this type of books, a reader has to bring his intellect into play, if not for anything else, at least to concentrate his attention upon the subject-matter. But of course absolutely dry books do more harm than good by unnecessarily taxing our brain.
It is almost impossible to lay down any fixed scheme for the choice of books, or to draw up a list of a hundred best books so bewildering is their number. As a general rule, those books which
appeal to our tastes and inclinations, or are of help in the profession we adopt in life, should be largely read. The quality of good books depends on the power they possess of giving the greatest stimulus to thought and supplying the best and the most correct information.