What does it mean to Read?

To live fully means to be continually disturbed, both intellectually and emotionally. You may remember that someone described was as “long periods of unutterable boredom punctuated by short moments of extreme terror”. Life may be equally well described as long periods of dullness, performing the drudgery of routine, punctuated by ecstatic moments of delight. And, for most of us, the greater part of this delight comes from reading – books, magazines, blogs, the news, websites and more. We read primarily for enjoyment. “Studies”, says Bacon, “serve for delight.” If you read without enjoyment, you are merely tiring yourself to no purpose.

If you read without enjoyment, you are merely tiring yourself to no purpose.

“Read not to contradict and confute”, he says, however, “nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.”

In other words, reading to appear learned and cultured or to save yourself the trouble of thinking implies intellectual dishonesty and insincerity; you must read in order to think and start one’s own natural vein of thought. A tired mind needs physical exercise and a tired body needs mental exercise. Reading is not meant to do your thinking for you; if it does, it is pernicious, because it prevents your own personality from ever developing to it’s full growth.

You read to enlarge your circle of friends, to increase your range of emotions and ideas, to escape from your own dullness, to get the other fellow’s point of view, to add to your knowledge of men, countries, science and politics, to outgrow your own opinions; you read to become troubled, amused, astonished, delighted, in short disturbed – for it is absolutely necessary for your growth that you are constantly disturbed.

When you know Perry Mason as if he were your intimate friend, when you have fallen in love with someone in a book more hopelessly than you ever loved a real person; when you have laughed at a character more heartily than you ever did in your life, when you have felt one of Leo Tolstoy’s character’s miseries more deeply than your own – you will have at-least a glimpse of the lasting enjoyment that is there waiting for you.

This article was modified from the original by GEOFFERY CRUMP(For Weal of All) to suit contemporary times.

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