The Wonderland of Books
By Jawaharlal Nehru
Why does one read books?
Ultimately it is to understand life.
Our individual experiences are narrow. But books give us the experiences of others, often the wisest of their generation, and lift us out of our narrow ruts.
Gradually as we go up the mountainsides, fresh vistas come into view; our vision extends further and further, and a sense of proportion comes to us.
We are not overwhelmed by
our petty and transient loves and hates and we see them what they are hardly noticeable ripples on the immense ocean of life.
This larger vision enables us to see life whole and live it well.
This vision and sense of proportion are essential to keep us on the right path and steady us when storms and heavy winds bear down on us.
There is a strange magic about good literature. This magic comes to us slowly as we make friends with good books; and when we have begun to feel it, we have found the key to the wonderland of books. They never fail us, these friends that neither age nor change.
I have got more pleasure from books than from almost anything. There is only one other thing which is, in its own way, more magical; and that is music.
Literature, art, music, science—all make our life rich and deep,
they teach us how to live.
Mountains of new books continue to appear. Many of them are boomed up for a while and then forgotten. The avalanche of books
that is descending on us is very largely trash, and it is not easy to separate the chaff from the grain.
A lapse of period will sift the good
from the bad and the indifferent;
and a book that has survived the test of time is likely to be good, to be literature.
It is far safer to read the famous classics of old that have influenced thought for so long. With that background it is easier to exercise a wise choice in modern literature.
A worthwhile book deserves time and attention. Think of the pains and the great deal of thinking that the author has put behind
what he has written; and we just rush through it, and forget soon enough what we read.
A very good habit to develop is
to keep a notebook in which
we can jot down anything that
strikes us specially in a book we read. These notes help us to remember much.