The truant school boy thinks that reading is a dull affair, he’s anxious to escape from the prison of the classroom. He would say that there is no pleasure in reading. And he wonders how anyone can read unless compelled to do so by some external pressure. He would write an essay on the pains of reading.
But this fellow would not be able to write out a word unless he reads books and learns to think correctly and systematically.
This, indeed, is the greatest pleasure of reading.
Whatever we read, novels or travel books that are generally regarded as pleasant, or a difficult work on philosophy that brings headache to the shirker, it must mean an exercise of the mental faculties. A play of the mind, and is bound to give pleasure.
The more advanced a man is, the more delight he’ll find in reading. The ordinary man may think that subjects like philosophy or science are very difficult. And the philosophers and scientists read these subjects not for solace but some other ends. But this is not true. The mathematician finds the same solace in mathematics as the school boy in adventure stories. For both it is the play of the intellect or the imagination, a mental recreation and exercise.
Different types of books give us different types of pleasure. First, in order of popularity is Novel-reading. Novels contain pictures of imaginary men and women in imaginary situations. And they give us an opportunity of escaping into a new world which is very much like our world yet different from it. Here, we seem to live a new life. The experience of this new life gives us a thrill of pleasure to which there are few parallels.
Next in order of popularity are travel books, biographies and memoirs. These tell us tales of places we’ve not seen and of great men of whom we are interested. Such books give us knowledge since they are all true.
History belongs to the same class as biography. Only it is more graver and complicated. For those who are interested in the story of men in the past nothing can be more absorbing than history. It doesn’t give us the lives of great men but contains the record of humanity as a whole. That is why it’s compass is larger and its attitude more impersonal.
Pleasure and profit- these are the two chief attractions of reading. Ordinarily, we think that reading is for profit. It brings us position, honour and money. But the other aspect is not less important. Reading is one of the greatest enjoyments of life. To a book-lover nothing is more fascinating than a favorite book.
We all, absorbed in our daily occupation want occasionally, to escape out of our drudgery into a whole new world. And reading books can just give us that opportunity to escape into the wonderland for a fresh breath of refreshment.