How to Use Books

“. . . . Newspapers are like every other kind of influence. What you get from them depends on what you bring to them.
You must not expect the newspapers to be a popular educator complete and all-sufficing in penny numbers. That isn’t their job. Their function is to provide you with the latest chapters of books you are supposed to have read from the beginning elsewhere; to tell you the most recent happenings; not what has gone before to cause those happenings. That you must find out for yourselves by reading.
If you regard them as pure entertainment, as a means of whiling away a railway journey, if you don’t yourself think about the ‘news’, if you aren’t willing to regard critically the events of your own day, if you are not prepared to try and sort out the important and significant things from the superficial and know why and how they are significant, how can you expect to play an intelligent part as a citizen of a democratic nation? Yet, undoubtedly, it is your duty to do so. To an ever-increasing extent the affairs of the world are, for good or for ill, governed by the opinions of ordinary men and women. Unless these opinions are based upon a reasonable and knowledgeable interest you mustn’t expect much from democracy. Therefore if any phase of current events should appeal to you, if any item of news should drive home to you your absolute ignorance of its main features, follow it up, not by making a task of it, but by finding readable books covering the ground in a popular manner.
Such reading will help you to be critical, providing the facts and ideas with which to check the newspapers’ presentation of events and movements – both the things they tell and the things they omit to tell. We are not suggesting that your newspaper this morning, or any day, is deliberately trying to delude you. That may be unlikely – but it is for you to judge. And you’ll be very unwise to forget that the recent war would never have happened if large numbers of ordinary people, in certain countries, had not allowed themselves to be misled.”

(pages 23-24)

Subject headings associated with the quotation

1. Press. 2. Newspapers. 3. Democracy.

Bibliographic Description

McColvin, Lionel R. (Lionel Roy), 1896-1976, author
Text (visual) : unmediated
How to Use Books / by Lionel McColvin. – First paperback edition. – [Cambridge] : Cambridge University Press, 2016.
93 pages ; 18 cm.
First published in London for the National Book League by Cambridge University Press, 1933. – Second edition, 1947. – Reprinted, 1948.
ISBN 9781316612002

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