The Pleasure of Reading | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 20, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 20, 2010

The Pleasure of Reading

Man in a shop behind Lalbagh Kella. Photo: Ihtisham Kabir

How many types of books are there? The philosopher Francis Bacon answered four centuries ago: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”
Seldom asked is the complementary question: how many types of readers are there? Many options come to mind. Some read only if they have to; others read anything they can get hold of; yet others search for challenges. Some like poetry, while others enjoy non-fiction. Some readers start a book hesitantly until the writer casts a spell on them; others open books with great gusto but abandon them after a few pages.
This list could go on forever, but perhaps there is a simpler classification: those who get pleasure out of reading and those who don't.
The man in the photograph, lost in his book, reminds me of the pleasure of reading.
I discovered this pleasure early because, as a child, I was surrounded by people who encouraged me to read. My parents of course, but also uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents all indulged my reading habit. My mother treated me to a new book every time I excelled in an exam.
What a blessing this turned out to be! Without books, life would lose much of its charm. Through books we live not one life, but many, not in one place and time but spanning galaxies and centuries. We enter many worlds real or imaginary populated by the characters of the books. A good book can have us breathing, feeling, living and loving through its characters.
I know nothing about this man. But he and I have this in common: the pleasure of reading can put a spell on both of us.

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