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The difference between good books and bad books - How to choose a book, how to read it?

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The difference between good books and bad books - How to choose a book, how to read it?

How many works, how many books declared masterpieces by publishers or literary associations are forgotten within less than six months! Or a few important books gathering dust on shelves... So, how do we choose books? How should we read the books we choose?

...You ask which books should be read.

Probably, my recommendations will surprise you. My wise teacher Alen used to affirm that it is not necessary to read too many books, and he confirmed the superiority of this principle in his own personal example.

His library consisted of works of a few important authors - Homer, Horace, Tacitus, Saint-Simon, Rousseau, Stendhal, Balzac, George Sand, Victor Hugo, and of course, philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Auguste Comte. In later years, he added the works of Roland, Valère, Claudel, Proust, Kipling. His selection was extremely modest, but he greatly admired all these brilliant works. By constantly rereading them, he discovered new lines for himself each time.

Alen used to think that someone who couldn't find the necessary page upon opening a book didn't truly know the author. He simply didn't know! In which novel of Balzac is the first encounter between Vautrin and Rastignac described? In which novel does the reader meet Félix de Vandenesle again, now in his married time? Or, in which novel of Proust is the Ventadour septet discussed for the first time? One couldn't be considered a true reader if they couldn't answer such questions.

"To find is not important, it is important to transform what you found into your mind," Valéry used to say. A woman who has carefully read and embraced a few real masterpieces may be more knowledgeable in the future than a woman who reviews three new books throughout the day.

Does this imply that one shouldn't pay attention to modern writers? Of course not. Moreover, remember that some of those writers will turn into famous names, famous signatures, in the morning. But excessive consumption is also unnecessary.

So, how should one proceed?

First of all, one must take some time to "hold on" to the literary product of the year. How many works, how many books declared masterpieces by publishers or literary magazines are completely forgotten before six months have passed!

Let's wait a bit without overloading our memory. Let's carefully monitor the rapidly growing variety of books in the world and try to choose friends from among them. Each of us has favorites among contemporary writers. Everyone should follow their creativity! I read the writings of a few young writers whom I hope for and believe in their talent. But I don't want too many of such writers. Otherwise, we will drown.

So, once you are sure of the spiritual or aesthetic value of a book, you must obtain it. It is only possible to get to know closely and from all sides the works that are always at our fingertips.

So, how should one read?

If a book "holds onto" us, we read it quickly, at a fast pace, with interest. We simply scan the pages and read breathlessly. But when reading later (they read a good book repeatedly, again and again), you should have a pen in your hand. There is no better way to take notes of enjoyable passages or deep thoughts - you can't formulate pleasure and judgment otherwise. You must promise yourself that you will not miss anything while reading the works of authors you value from the heart. A reader who skips the long descriptions of streets or houses in Balzac's works cannot be considered a true connoisseur.

 

The most productive method of reading is the "star-shaped" reading: the reader expands their area of interest by moving in different directions (as if with the lights of the stars) starting from the main topic. For example: I'm reading Proust and I admire him. By delving into his works, I learn that Proust himself was influenced by Reski and George Sand. I start reading Reski and George Sand: it's impossible not to be interested in the works of someone admired by a writer like Proust.

Thanks to Chateaubriand, I met Juberle. Charles de Gaulle directed me to "Euridice Lost Twice". Maurice Barrès had previously introduced me to Chekhov and Gogol. Spiritual bonds of friendship are formed just like this.



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