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The Guide to Reading — the Pocket University Volume XXIII   By:

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THE POCKET UNIVERSITY VOLUME XXIII

THE GUIDE TO READING

EDITED BY DR. LYMAN ABBOTT, ASA DON DICKINSON AND OTHERS

CONTENTS

BOOKS FOR STUDY AND READING By Lyman Abbott

THE PURPOSE OF READING By John Macy

How TO GET THE BEST Out OF BOOKS By Richard Le Gallienne

THE GUIDE TO DAILY READING By Asa Don Dickinson

GENERAL INDEX OF AUTHORS

GENERAL INDEX OF TITLES

THE POCKET UNIVERSITY Books for Study and Reading BY LYMAN ABBOTT

There are three services which books may render in the home: they may be ornaments, tools, or friends.

I was told a few years ago the following story which is worth retelling as an illustration of the use of books as ornaments. A millionaire who had one house in the city, one in the mountains, and one in the South, wished to build a fourth house on the seashore. A house ought to have a library. Therefore this new house was to have a library. When the house was finished he found the library shelves had been made so shallow that they would not take books of an ordinary size. His architect proposed to change the bookshelves. The millionaire did not wish the change made, but told his architect to buy fine bindings of classical books and glue them into the shelves. The architect on making inquiries discovered that the bindings would cost more than slightly shop worn editions of the books themselves. So the books were bought, cut in two from top to bottom about in the middle, one half thrown away, and the other half replaced upon the shelves that the handsome backs presented the same appearance they would have presented if the entire book had been there. Then the glass doors were locked, the key to the glass doors lost, and sofas and chairs and tables put against them. Thus the millionaire has his library furnished with handsome bindings and these I may add are quite adequate for all the use which he wishes to make of them.

This is a rather extreme case of the use of books as ornaments, but it illustrates in a bizarre way what is a not uncommon use. There is this to be said for that illiterate millionaire: well bound books are excellent ornaments. No decoration with wall paper or fresco can make a parlor as attractive as it can be made with low bookshelves filled with works of standard authors and leaving room above for statuary, or pictures, or the inexpensive decoration of flowers picked from one's own garden. I am inclined to think that the most attractive parlor I have ever visited is that of a bookish friend whose walls are thus furnished with what not only delights the eye, but silently invites the mind to an inspiring companionship.

More important practically than their use as ornaments is the use of books as tools. Every professional man needs his special tools the lawyer his law books, the doctor his medical books, the minister his theological treatises and his Biblical helps. I can always tell when I go into a clergyman's study by looking at his books whether he is living in the Twentieth Century or in the Eighteenth. Tools do not make the man, but they make his work and so show what the man is.

Every home ought to have some books that are tools and the children should be taught how to use them. There should be at least an atlas, a dictionary, and an encyclopædia. If in the evening when the family talk about the war in the Balkans the father gets out the atlas and the children look to see where Roumania and Bulgaria and Greece and Constantinople and the Dardanelles are on the map, they will learn more of real geography in half an hour than they will learn in a week of school study concerning countries in which they have no interest. When there is reading aloud in the family circle, if every unfamiliar word is looked up in a dictionary, which should always lie easily accessible upon the table, they will get unconsciously a widening of their vocabulary and a knowledge of the use of English which will be an invaluable supplement to the work of their teacher of English in the school. As to cyclopædias they are of all sizes from the little six volumed cyclopædia in the Everyman's Library to the twenty nine volumed Encyclopædia Britannica, and from the general cyclopædia with more or less full information on every conceivable topic to the more distinctive family cyclopædia which covers the life of the household... Continue reading book >>




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