Essay on the Habit of Reading Books

Outline:

  • Three important steps in the process of learning
  • Reading habit in early age
  • Lord Bacon’s quotation
  • Two methods of reading
  • The choice of reading material
  • Purpose of reading
  • Happiness gained by knowledge
  • Pleasures of different genres of literature
  • Literature not an escape from life
  • Aesthetic pleasure
  • Scripture and religious treatises’ reading
  • Reading, a great mental exercise
  • One must read books for ideas
  • Reading is a source of wisdom

“Reading maketh a full man, conversation a ready man; and writing taketh an exact man”.

One is never too old to learn; is a wise saying. Learning is a complex process. There are three important steps in the process of learning:

  1. Listening
  2. Reading
  3. Writing

All of them are equally important. Listening is the first and primary step in learning. If one is not a good listener, one cannot be a good learner. Like listening, reading is also an art. Every body is not a good and wise reader; and everybody does not enjoy or profit from reading. “How well he’s read to reason against reading” says Shakespeare about a reader? Wise reading and good education go together.

The pleasures of reading depend on whất you read, why you read and how you read. The reading habits are formed in the early stage of life, during student life. One should always form a habit of intelligent, serious, concentrated and purposeful reading. Reading opens the doors for understanding the contents and paves the way for enjoyment and pleasure. The pleasures of reading are varied and many, depending on the what’s, why’s and how’s of the process.

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As listening helps in fertilization of ideas reading is conducive in increasing ideas and knowledge, This is what Bacon means by saying: “Reading maketh a full man”. Effective reading is a source of both knowledge and pleasure. It is rightly said: “Studies serve for delight, for ornament, for ability”. Good reading ability includes comprehension, the art of surveying, skimming, scanning, intensive reading and critical reading.

Sub-vocalization is a common foe of rapid reading. It means saying the words to oneself as one reads. This habit can be overcome by reading actively for ideas and getting involved in the reading. Then only reading can be beneficial and pleasant.

In the words of Charlee H. Vervaline:

“There are two methods: Core subject reading and cross-fertilization. Both of these forms of communication from author to reader provide a continuing education rationale that can take you where you want to go”.

The choice of reading subjects or matter differs from person to person. The saying what is one man’s meat, is another man’s poison, applies well in reading. It also depends on the educational background, age, sex, mood and the time at one’s disposal. The spiritual-minded delve in scripture and religious books. Some like to read literature like poetry, drama and fiction while others pour on occasional literature short stories, essays, biographies and articles. Some read scientific subjects and contemplate on the mysteries of the universe; and some are engrossed in reading social subjects like history, economic, sociology and politics. There are many who wish to walk in the company of philosophers, artists, thinkers and critics. Still many while spend away their time in reading fresh and cheap matter. The pleasure that the readers derive may be spiritual, sentimental or serious. It is born out of reflection and contemplation.

The reading matter is very varied and multifarious. The whole market is flooded with books and occasional reading material. There are books of the hour that have no lasting value for they die a natural death after two or three years. Such matter is abundant in the markets and appeal most to the non-serious modern readers. Then there are books for all-time that have stood the tests of the time. Such are the classics that appeal to the serious and educated persons. Time has written no wrinkles on their faces and they have been a perennial source of pleasure and enjoyment. They also make the reader wise and worthy. It is worthwhile to devote one’s days and nights as Maculae has said, to such books. He once said that he preferred the pleasure of reading books to the pleasure of staying in a king’s palace.

The measure of pleasure depends on what and why one reads. Most of the readers have a hobby to read simply for pastime, to induce oneself to sleep or even to kill time. They do not take a dip into the matter. Such reading is devoid of profit and pleasure. As Alexander Pope has said:

“Mistakes like straw on the surface float

Those who search for pearls must dive below”.

The purpose and aim of reading are divergent and different. Scholars read both for knowledge and pleasure; while the students read merely to pass the examinations. They generally cram. The serious reader for research or remembering; but most of the readers and students, as a general trend, read not to learn and remember but to forget. It is a strange anomaly.

Nature has given man brain to know, to think, to understand, to reflect, to discover, to invent and to feel the deep joy that comes to all who fulfil, nature’s laws. No words can describe the happiness and beatitudes that the pursuit of knowledge conforms on its votaries. A wise reader has both the joy of knowing and joy of living. Indeed, most delicious and more wholesome are the fruits of knowledge! Read to learn and to enjoy the pleasure of the exercise.

Literature holds out the greatest pleasures for the readers. Poetry, drama and fiction have the widest realism rich with treasures of beauty and joy. Poetry pleases the readers by the witchery of words. The pleasures of reading poetry never cloy. It stimulates the imagination and emotions enter into the texture of poetry and beauty is its very breath of life. It nobles the readers.
Drama and fiction hold a mirror to life. They bring out the light and shade, ups and downs and joys and sorrows of life. The persons the men and women with whom we rub our shoulders in daily life without being conscious, spring to life and make the readers to move and feel with them.

Short stories and one-act plays, the new forms in modern literature, thrill the readers and lift them from the world of reality into the world of imagination. Biographies and historical novels make the reader-wise, brave and persevering. They not only teach us lessons but also please us. They tell the readers that life is earnest; life is real. It is worth living and worth enjoying.

Literature is not an escape from life as some think, but it confronts life and gives us courage to confront life. It is like a big ever-running stream. Every one can drink and quench his/her thirst from it. In fact the more the reader has the more he wants. All the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the low and the high, the scholars and clowns can stoop down and drink from the ever-running stream.

As you cannot pump the ocean dry, nobody can fathom the ocean of knowledge. All, literature, science, arts and humanities consistently pour their waters into the unfathomable. It is so immense and wide that human eyes cannot even survey its boundaries. Literature deals with emotions, feelings and sentiments in man’s life. The great writers while writing about their times and age also write about themselves, their likes and dislikes.

Books on physical sciences, astronomy and cosmology probe into the secret of atoms, the heavenly bodies and the mysteries of the universe and the creation. They bring the readers closer to the reality and reveal the physical truth. They publish the joys of achievements and great accomplishments.

It is indeed a great joy and pleasure to meet and think with the intellectual giants like Aristotle Hipparchus, Archimedes, Eratosthenes, Aristarchus, Hippocrates, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Cuvier, Darwin, Pasteur, Aryabhata, Al-Haitham Einstein and many others who have patiently devoted their lives to science and thus paved the way for advent of.

“… the crowing race

of those that, eye to eye, shall look

on knowledge; under whose command

Is earth and Earth’s, and in their hands

Is Nature like an open book.”

For aesthetic pleasure, the readers can turn to books on Art – the five classical arts: poetry, music, painting, sculpture and dancing. Creation and communication are the prerogatives’ of man, the lord of creation. G. Gentile defines Art as ‘the soul of thought’. Ruskin declares that Beauty is “expression of the creating spirit of the universe.” Art has the unique power of taking us out of ourselves, out of our petty personal self. As we read and interpret, great art proclaims itself by the ennobling effect that it produces on our soul; a valid test. In fact they produce self-oblivion in the reader and the perceiver. They have great social appeal. Great artistic creations make us realize. “How beautiful are Nature’s Phases; how wonderful are God’s images.”

Man is a composite having three aspects of human personality physical, mental and moral. Like the authors and writers, the spiritualist and the philosophers derive great peace and pleasure from reading the scriptures and religious treatises. They inspire and ennoble human soul. They have been the source of knowledge and wisdom for the mystics and great sufies. They teach that all the good deeds and virtuous actions spring from prayer and contemplation. Morality (goodness), truth, justice, tolerance, love, sense of duty, the spirit of service, patriotism and peace are the virtues that make our life beautiful and purposeful. Above all they produce contentment the first condition of happiness. They enjoin on the readers to think and reason out and find out that life is a tragedy for one who feels and comedy for one who thinks. (Aristotle).

Reading is a great mental exercise; in fact a part of mental culture. After dwelling on what to read and why to read, let us concentrate on the third aspect. How to read? Students are advised to read till they reach the optimum after which the mind refuses to receive and to remember. One cannot concentrate after reaching the optimum limit. General readers have the habit of jumpy reading to skip over the matter. It is foolish, for it is a sheer waste of time and energy. The Wise always read to add to their sum total of knowledge, to learn and make practical use of what they learn.
One must read books for ideas; the ideas must be understood and grasped. No enjoyment and pleasure is possible without proper understanding. The reading can be improved through intelligent and purposeful reading. The ‘way’ the books are read, will influence how much the reader can get out of them; and the ease with which he/she can apply to what one learns. The reading should be intensive without which no high degree of compression and retention is possible. So read carefully and thoroughly.

For many, reading is a pastime, for some it is a hobby, but for the wise it is a source of wisdom and pleasure. Reading must make the reader-wise. Read for wisdom-discriminative knowledge that tells what is good what is bad, what is fair what is fout; what is right and what is wrong; above all what is to be done and what is not to be done. There lies real pleasure. Knowledge is proud that it knows much; wisdom is humble that it knows little. So read to be wise. This world is full of pleasures but of all pleasures, the pleasure of reading is the noblest and the best. Read the most readable book and which is the Holy Quran.

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