It is said that books are the best friends of man. In this context books include all reading material, viz., magazines, periodicals and newspapers. Why do people read ? They read because they like to read. It is not that everybody likes to read. Reading is a habit, which requires to be cultivated in course of time. But once a man has developed this habit like a hobby, he finds great pleasure in it. Books are no doubt, valuable treasures of knowledge and experience. These treasures are open and available to all. For those who have developed a taste for reading, there is something more than mere knowledge. It is this something that explains the happiness, the pleasure and sensuous satisfaction that the reading of books bestows. Reading provides knowledge and is a source of recreation. It delights and gives pleasure. Reading touches directly the spirit of man and gives a satisfaction of fulfilment. It is a best past-time. A man after having worked hard during the day, takes a newspaper, magazine or i book and reads it and relaxes himself. He enjoys reading whether it if* a drama, a poem or a fairy-tale. While reading he forgets all hll cares and worries. He finds solace. He feels relieved of the monotony of everyday life. When a man takes up a book or a rangimnc and devotes himself to its reading, he absorbs himself so much in it that he becomes unaware of his surroundings. He gets completely lost in the reading. It is at that time that he gets the real pleasure of reading.
Raiding material can be divided into books, magazines, and newspapers. Books are of various kinds and on various subjects which we shall discuss a little later. Magazines cover a large variety of subjects. There are magazines devoted to particular subjects such as film magazines, sports magazines, magazines for women, etc. Newspapers mainly contain important and topical news and views. There are editorials and right-ups also in newspapers.
Books are of various types. Classification of books may be attempted on numerous grounds. According to Ruskin, books can be divided into two types—books of the hour and books of all time. His classification of books is based on the nature of pleasure they provide. Such books as give us temporary pleasure are categorised as books of the hour. Short stories, travel accounts, novels and literary compositions give us temporary pleasure and hence they are books of the hour. On the other hand, books of all time are those which appeal to our soul and leave an everlasting impression on our minds. Such books were valued in the past, they are valued now and would similarly have the same value in future. There is a large number of books which can be put into this category. The Ramayan, the Mahabharat, the Bible, the Gita and the plays of Shakespeare, Kalidas and Tagore are books of all time, because they are a source of inspiration to the people in the present and they will continue to inspire people in future. Another famous essayist Bacon said in his famous essay Of Studies. “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some of them are to be chewed and digested.” It means that some books are to be read in parts, some are to be read but not with full attention, and some books are to be read with diligence and attention. To the first category belong newspapers, magazines and novels, etc. They are to be read hurriedly. To the second category belong such books as are to be read completely. To the third type belong the book which are to be read again and again. They are books on philosophy, science and religion. The more we read them, the more knowledge we get from them.
The reading material also can be divided into two types. There are some books and certain reading materials that are meant for light reading. Such books and materials enable us to pass our time in a worthwhile manner. They give us some useful information. Newspapers, magazines, accounts of travels and adventures fall under this category. Newspapers and magazines give us knowledge of current affairs and events. Accounts of travels and adventures take us away from the dull and grim realities of every day life to strange, wonderful and unknown regions of the globe and a little of the culture and civilisation of the people inhabiting those regions. They are valuable treasures of experience. Books and materials on science, philosophy and literature are meant for serious reading. They make us wise, enlighten our soul and enrich our experience.
Our reading should be judicious. We must be very careful in the selection of books and reading material. A well chosen book is the best companion. Cheap novels can ruin our life, but a good book can refine and broaden our outlook. Reading provides the best food for our mind. It guides us when we are in trouble, and cheers us
when we are sad. It gives us joy which perhaps no other thing can give. It provides a fund of pleasure. It supplies us with a store of knowledge. Apart from the recreation that it provides, it ^elevates our soul and makes us noble. It unfolds the mysteries of the world and nature before us. It makes a man perfect.