I. THE AMATEUR READER. MAKE no mistake: reading is an art, though it may seem as much an instinctive action as eating. It is by no means necessary to read every word of a book to have read it to the best advantage. Skipping and skimming are often condemned as vices of the desultory and idolent, and so indeed they often are, when they are involuntary. But the really expert reader skips and skims deliberately. Like Dr. Johnson, he “tears the heart out of a book.” He has not the time to waste on reading the unessential. Very likely only certain parts of a book are of service to him. Why should he do more than glance over the rest to see that he is missing nothing important to him? You will notice that as you read you take in, not single words at a glance, still less (as a child does) single letters, but whole sentences. That is, I believe, the common rate of reading. But Shelley could read, his eye and mind grasping at one glance an entire paragraph or even page. It does not matter how fast you read, so long as you read with your mind awake. As we all know, very much reading only half holds the attention, and is almost a vice. The morbid craving for printed matter, for any printed matter, no matter what, is not a help, but an active impediment to thinking.
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