We have all been reading since our childhood. As is water to fish, so is reading to us.

As we walk on the ladder of progress, accompanied by mentors and friends, and wander in words and paragraphs, reading cultivates everyone, teaches everyone, and enriches everyone.

It is like a lighthouse, standing tall in the boundless ocean of time. It is like a lamp for our feet, guiding us through the gloomy valley. And it is like a string of bright stars, twinkling in the open night sky.

You might wonder, “Where do all these books come from?”

In ancient times, in an era beyond our imagination, people of different nationalities and different skin colors created their own languages and formed their own unique cultural practices. Meanwhile, they had also jointly created something that belongs to the spiritual civilization of all humankind: books.

From the different knots on the rope to the antique marks on the tortoise shells, from the inscriptions on ancient bronze objects to rolls of bamboo slips and parchments, from the neat black words on white papers to the characters flooding on the screens… books appear to us quietly.

People often like to ask children, “Have you read yet?”

How would they understand the meaning of the word “read?”

Is it to know the pronunciation of all the words in a book and be able to read them word by word, or is it that they have reached the age to go to school? Is it to learn all the main points of textbooks, or is it to read all the literary masterpieces throughout the ages?

This question may have been troubling children from generation to generation, but there is another question that has troubled almost all human beings, that is, what is the actual purpose of reading?

It is often said that “Books are the ladder for human progress.” Perhaps just like ladder climbing, reading is to raise people’s knowledge level. It is also said that “Books are the nutrients for the whole world.” Maybe reading is to fill people’s spiritual world with nutrition. Furthermore, it is said that “Books are like medicine, and reading cures foolishness.” Probably, reading is for healing people’s minds…

The ancients often said, “On the book, there is a shade of jade; In the book, there is a house of gold.” to encourage people to study hard. And they usually set self-cultivating, family-regulating, state-governing, and world-ordering as the purpose of reading. Or they point, “To ordain conscience for Heaven and Earth, to secure life and fortune for the people, to continue lost teachings for past sages, to establish peace for all future generations.”, which has been known as the ultimate goal of ancient scholars. But to modern people, this may just be the way the ancients try to improve personal cultivation and promote political stability.

In modern times, people are gradually awakening and learned to compete in society. The so-called “people must struggle in order to survive in competitions”, and the efforts of reading give people more dignity and options in the future. Perhaps we read, is to find a dream job, to live in a better life. However, we all say “live and learn”. Is the purpose of reading really that simple?

The young Zhou Enlai once said, “Reading for the rising of China!” What a lofty aspiration it is! The elderly Lu You used to say, “The original intention of reading is for the civilians.” How concerned he is for his nation and people. A person like this who reading hard for the nation is so indomitable!

Mr. Zhou Guoping once said: “What is the purpose of reading? If we exclude pursuing the scholarship, which is a very practical purpose, reading is that I am absorbing nutrients and enriching myself. Francis Bacon also indicated: “Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability.” Enrich ourselves with reading, how elegant the temperament of it!

Jia Pingwa also had such a paragraph: “There must possess benefits if you like reading. For example, you can know the greatness of the universe, and understand the hardship of life; you can have self-awareness, and anticipate things. You will not be grief for suffering and not hilarity in being favored. Being not lonely when alone, and not solitary when solitude. Thus, you shall refuse the desire for power, abandon flashy, but with free and easy. Living in the hustle and bustle with self-esteem, self-possessed, self-improvement, and self-reliance, but no humble, no dread, no vulgar, and no flatter.”, which shows how we understand to conduct in society. How optimistic and open-minded!

Today, no matter what you are reading for, for the nation and people, for personal temperament, or for the way of conducting ourselves in society… maybe it is all that we humans pursuing the most essential, the most original, the most sincere, and the most beautiful emotion in our hearts!


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