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Thứ Hai, 19 tháng 1, 2015

On Reading


                The first thing necessary to the pleasure of reading is that when people are young they should acquire the habit of reading. This is becoming more and more difficult. Before I was aware of things in the world; the Penny Post had already begun to make a change adverse to reading, by consuming a vast amount of time in correspondence that was unnecessary, trivial, or boring. Railways have altered people’s habits by making them move about much more. But railways have this compensating advantage that although they take people much away from home, a long railway journey affords a first-rate opportunity for reading. They were not, therefore, an unmixed disadvantage. But now things are changing. The motor-car is altogether unfavourable to reading. People consume more time in moving about than they did; and they consume it under conditions which, even for people with good eyes, must make reading difficult, if not impossible. The telephone is a deadly disadvantage; it cuts time up into fragments and irritates the spirit. Wireless, with all its delights, is now being added as a distraction to divert people from time that might be given to the pleasure of reading. The cinema is another change in the same direction, and flying is becoming more and more common. All these things must make it more difficult for successive generations to acquire the habit of reading, and, if that habit be acquired, to maintain it. Even before all these changes, it was not easy to maintain the habit, but it could be done.