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THE time spent at college is generally considered to be the period best fitted for, and most occupied by, reading. It certainly is the best for such occupation, since reading must be most profitable when done in connection with the study of such subjects as interest and attract us. The knowledge which we acquire in the lecture or recitation room helps us to understand and appreciate many works which might otherwise seem too advanced; and, on the other hand, the perusal of entertaining books on science or history inspires us with new interest in previously dry facts, and fills up the outline which alone is furnished by the instructor. The years in college are also the only ones which afford much time for acquiring any knowledge of literature. On entering active life our cares and occupations increase, we are wholly occupied by business or professional duties, and can pay little attention to mental culture and refinement. If this is the best opportunity, it should be used to advantage in the way which will most benefit us in after life.
We would not suggest a course of professional reading, but the perusal of works which give polish and culture. To many the question must naturally arise, "What shall I read?" In answer, we can do no better than quote the words of an old writer on the same subject: "In brief, sir, study what you most affect." The remark is full of truth, and it seems only natural that whatever most interests us we shall study and read to the greatest effect.
The most congenial subject having been chosen, it should be pursued with method and perseverance to afford a true benefit. It is better to read several works on one subject, and thoroughly master that one, than to dip into volume after volume, and acquire a superficial knowledge of many topics, which will pass away even sooner than it was acquired. Moreover, reading pursued in an intelligent manner is sure to be a source of great pleasure as well as of instruction. In speaking of his books, Southey justly remarks, -
"With them I take delight in weal,
And seek relief in woe."
And so with all of us. Favorite books become old friends, and through their works we feel a sort of friendship and brotherhood with the authors themselves.
Much also can be said concerning the manner of reading. Strict attention and a kindly feeling toward the author enhance our interest in a book otherwise unattractive; while a cynical and faultfinding person can never be thoroughly entertained:-
"It is rather when
We gloriously forget ourselves, and plunge
Soul-forward, headlong, into a book's profound,
Impassioned for its beauty and salt of truth, -
'T is then we get the right good from a book."
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