Why Read What You Don’t Have To?

Is reading overrated? I mean, do you have to read every page from cover to cover? There’s Frenchman who says don’t worry about reading a book for talking or even teaching about it. He may be full of hot air, but Lennard J. Davis says he may have a point or two:

Let’s remember that even one of the greatest readers of literature, Samuel Johnson, admitted that “Paradise Lost is one of the books which the reader admires and puts down, and forgets to take up again. None ever wished it longer than it is.” In fact, Johnson seemed to have made quite a career of not reading. He once lamented to his friend Mrs. Thrale, “Alas, Madam! How few books are there of which one can ever possibly arrive at the last page.” And reacting to advice that once started, a book should be read all the way through, he opined, “A book may be good for nothing; or there may be only one thing in it worth knowing; are we to read it all through?”

I agree with the last comment and wish I could practice it better.

One thought on “Why Read What You Don’t Have To?”

  1. I’ve always thought it would be a good idea to write the three main points, or in the case of fiction the three ‘good parts’ of each book on the inside front cover.

    Especially with the ‘help’ books my church library has donated to it.

    I remember reading about a woman who bought a cookbook that had a recipe for loon soup. Written over the recipe were these words ‘do not eat loon soup’.

    It’s a good quote to remember. Not quite as well known as ‘your mileage may vary’ but useful.

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