Reading for Learning and Knowledge

2 Pages 567 Words August 2015

In the absence of official readership statistics in Tunisia, one is bound to believe that the rumored fact that the Tunisian common reader reads no more than one single book per year may reveal the depressing state of our culture and schools, on one hand, and the book and printing industry, on the other! For me, reading is like the art of cuisine; it is a matter of culture and curiosity. It has to be as varied as possible. An intelligent reader will try his or her hand at all sorts of texts. Like a curious chef who tries to accommodate different flavours and exotic ingredients in a large selection of dishes and recipes, the astute reader will explore a never-ending spectrum of texts and narratives, because reading in itself is a wonderful adventure that may lead to the discovery of the world about us (the other) and to the discovery of ourselves (the self). What else do we hope for?
There seems to be two main purposes for reading: pleasure and learning, both of which may actually boil down to the one and same, that is, sheer pleasure. Learning is an intellectual pleasure, par excellence. A society that has an enticing reading policy is an open society which keeps changing and developing. On the contrary, a society that does not seek pleasure for its own sake cannot think of promoting reading as a source of entertainment and knowledge. This type of society is only interested in power and monopoly stacked in the hands of a political oligarchy or party; and it is keen on the control and containment of its subjects. It is a closed society curled upon itself, resisting change and development.
It is disheartening to note that many higher-education institutions still store tens of thousands of books behind closed doors and prevent students and young researchers from having free access to the bookshelves. Free access to books and periodicals is the rule in most European universities libraries! Some of our librarians join insult to injury whe...

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