The “Posture” of “Enjoying Reading”
The history of a nation’s development, in a sense, is that of her reading. It is so true for a person, too.
In Germany, kids, since they were born, are accompanied by baby books, most of which, of course, are made of plastic or cloth; they can bring the books into bath tube and see small books floating. This is the first foundation stone of kids’ reading.
Jewish people think highly of reading. They lay a coat of honey on books to let kids know since they came into the world that books are sweet; they also like to put books at bedside and in the corridor so that they can read them at any time. As the data shows, there is one library for each 4500 Jewish people. Reading for enjoyment has deeply integrated into their blood and enabled them to shine in the long history of human beings. According to the statistics, since 1901 to the present there have been around the world 800 odd Nobel Prize winners, almost one quarter of whom are of Jewish descent; Jewish people, however, account for less than three thousandths of the world population.
Chinese nation is also keen on reading. The couplet from a poem written by Liu Yuxi, poet of Tang dynasty, goes, “Surrounded by water are several tranquil cottages, in which I read by the dim lamp at night”, which gives us a leisurely and peaceful impression of reading. “The oil lamp seems as interesting as that in my childhood”, as Lu Fangweng, (also known as Lu You, poet of South Song dynasty) recollected reading in his childhood. As for literary quotations that had been passed down through the ages like “bore a hole on the wall to make use of the neighbor’s light to study”, “read by the light of bagged fireflies or the reflected light of snow” and assiduous study by “tying hair on the house beam and jabbing side with a needle to keep awake”, the love of books is much revered. It would naturally make us feel woeful to compare reading in China with that in foreign countries: we occasionally overemphasize “assiduous learning” while neglect “enjoy learning”; overemphasize “straighten clothes and sit properly” while neglect “read in the way as wished”; overemphasize “material gains” of reading while neglect its “purposes”, which makes it difficult to integrate reading into our blood and render it a part in our daily life; moreover, preoccupation with material gains is very much likely to banalize knowledge and mislead reading.
For posture of reading, it is really not necessary in the least to be particular about. The “Three Ons” (on horseback, on bed and on closestool) way of reading of the ancients seems somewhat inelegant, it, in fact, had grasped the essence of reading. Nowadays, “morning reading” in the park, “reading in motion” on the bus and “night reading” on bed by light all without exception are beautiful sceneries. Just as someone put it, “Only being regarded as something regular can there be reading… reading, in its true sense, is easy and it goes with our lives.” Only by taking reading as something regular and our lifelong partner can we really and truly understand that “reading is bliss”.
Physical posture of reading may be of little matter, while spiritual posture can never be absent. The “spiritual posture” is thirst for learning, awe to classics and book selection. Nowadays, in the era of information explosion, there is overwhelming number of books and periodicals, selection of which often confuses people a lot. It is an attitude to be fond of reading; however, whether you can be good at reading depends on your ability. By reading books of theory, solid “foundation” can be laid; by reading classics, the “commanding height” can be conquered; by reading books of great masters, “horizon” can be greatly broadened; by reading books of philosophy, “golden ideas” can be acquired. Let the heart bend over the classics to have soul-to-soul dialogue, and then it can naturally be possible to accumulate wisdom, gather nerves, cultivate morality and become reasonable, thoroughly understand life, nourish our own mental world, comprehend the time mission and then sincerely carry it out.
As a line from The Read-aloud Handbook has it: “reading is the ultimate weapon, destroying ignorance, poverty and despair.” Few in the world can be eternal, yet word, the intellectual treasure, is an exception. “Bow our heads to read and raise to think”; enter the world of books and bend over words, this is per se a posture, the most graceful posture in the world, one bringing hope to the nation and each of us.
Selected from People’s Daily, April 23, 2012, page 4. By Xiang Xianbiao.