" Of making of many books there is no end". So wrote the wise author of "Ecclesiastes" ( a book in the Bible) over two thousand years ago. In his days fifteen hundred years before the invention of printing books had to be written out by the hand in parchment a slow and laborious process. Yet in the opinion of that wise man. There were even then too many! What would he say if he were alive today? Nowadays in one language only scores of new books are published in a month and thousands in a year. Think of the number in all the languages in the world!
Thinking of books in English only no one can hope toured them all. Even a man of leisure can read only a limited number of books in a year. And most readers are busy people who can spare only a little time a day to reading. Try as we can a large number of books must remain for ever unread. So a choice of books must be made.
On what lines should the choice be made? We it is well to begin with classics. A classic is a book that has stood the test of the time and has been placed by critics and readers of taste in the first class a book that is the rage of the moment may be forgotten in a few years. It may be worth reading or it may not. But a book that has been read for generations with pleasure and profit has proves itself to be worth reading. So let the young reader begin with some of these. Let him read in fiction some of the novels of Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, in history Macaulay, Gibbon, Green , in poetry Milton, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Tennyson, Browning, in general literature Lamb's Essay, De Quincey, Ruskin, Carlyle, Stevenson and so on. These books will help to form his taste of good literature.
For the rest individual taste must determine the choice. Some will take to history and biography some to travel and adventure some to science and philosophy. Others to general literature and poetry. Whatever the subject chosen the best books old and modern should be sought out and read carefully. After all it is not the number of the books one reads that counts most. A few books read thoughtfully will be of more value to the reader than many skimmed through and forgotten.