How to Read a Book: The Art of Getting a Liberal Education

How to Read a Book: The Art of Getting a Liberal Education

How to Read a Book: The Art of Getting a Liberal Education

How to Read a Book: The Art of Getting a Liberal Education

Excerpt

I have tried to write a light book about heavy reading.

Those who take no pleasure in knowing and understanding should not bother to read it. Those who believe that all their leisure time should be devoted to the effortless pleasures of the movies, the radio, and light romances should not bother to read it.

I am talking to the rest of us.

Reading--as explained (and defended) in this book--is a basic tool in the living of a good life. I need not defend the goodness of living humanly or reasonably, though it looks as if we might have to defend our right to do so.

Reading, I repeat, is a basic tool. Those who can use it to learn from books, as well as be amused by them, have access to the stores of knowledge. They can furnish their minds so that the prospect of hours spent alone is less bleak. Nor, in the hours they spend with others, need they fear that hollow sound of empty conversation.

Most of us find conversation dull. We seem to have little to say after the first few familiar topics are exhausted by the repetition of the same old remarks. The press and the radio provide the topics. They are the same for the most part, and so are the commonplaces we utter in comment. That is why we turn to gossip and scandal, or give up conversation entirely for bridge or movies. And if we cannot talk to one another interestingly, what dull company we must be when we are left to ourselves.

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