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Anisha Mishra

on 20 April 2015

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Leonard Alfred George Strong (8 March 1896 – 17 August 1958) was a highly popular English novelist, critic, historian and poet, and published under the name "L. A. G. Strong." He served as a director of the publishers Methuen Ltd. from 1938 to 1958.
Born in Plymouth, England.
Earned a scholarship to Wadham College, Oxford.
L.A.G Strong
Reading for pleasure
The name of the essay is self explanatory as the essay describes the reasons why a person reads; the main reason being, reading for pleasure.

The essay explains why people should read what they like and only what they like. No one should force anyone to read anything. Strong illustrates the point by recounting his own experiences with books while growing up. He explains that reading should be a passion and not be treated as a chore or task.

Lines 1-15
L.A.G STRONG's previous Works
Leonard Alfred George born on 8th march 1896 worked as a director of Publishers 'Methum ltd.'
One of his early writings was ' A defence of ignorance'
Most of his works include short stories, plays, children's books, poems, biography, criticism, and film.
Examples of his Fictions are The Bay. Philadelphia: J. P. Lippincott company, 1942. ; King Richard's Land: A Tale of the Peasants' Revolt. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1933.
Examples of his Short stories are Travellers: Thirty-one Selected Short Stories. London: Methuen, 1945. (James Tait Black Memorial Prize) ; The Buckross Ring and Other Stories of the Strange and Supernaturals
Examples of his Poems are ''An Old Woman, Outside the Abbey Theatre,” “The Mad Woman of Punnet’s Town,”
Lines 66-92
As he grew older he became completely independent on his choice of reading and chose comic books and penny-bloods.
- Penny bloods: Literature sold at one pence or maybe a little more.
On the train people would shake their heads seeing him reading these books but his father argued that one day he would grow out of these books. His father knew that if he forbade him to read the books, Strong would still read them.
- Claude Duval: committed many robberies and was executed.
"Sherlock homes were better value than than Sexton
- Sexton Blake is a fictional detective who appeared in many British comic strips and novels throughout the 20th century.
Sherlock Homes was more exciting and more satisfying, it was more realistic.
Lines 32-49
The blame goes on teachers for forcing books that are not suitable for the children, a book that they cannot digest easily.
The worst is for people who force themselves to like the book, they do not gain their individual taste and preference, they force to like whatever is given to them.
People do not know what is good, they only know what is supposed to be good. People judge books, pictures, music and recordings on the label (such as creator or author).

Lines 16-31
You should be friendly with books and treat it like a human, not like medicine as this is rude to the book and silly for you. A connection needs to be made between the book and yourself.
Another reason why people read books is to PLEASE THEIR TEACHERS. Few may like the suggested books but some may not.
David Copperfield - 8th novel by Charles Dickens a classic.
2 things happen to people who cannot like the book given by the teacher; they dislike the genre and author or they get guilty. They should like it but they do not.
Lines 50-65
"Does it do any good to advise people to read certain books?"
- Vanity fair: Novel by William Makepeace Thackeray that follows the life of two young women in 19th century Britain. It is considered a classic.
- The old curiosity shop: Novel by Charles Dickens.The plot follows the life of Nell Trent and her grandfather, both residents of The Old Curiosity Shop in London. Tragic story of the orphans journey with her grandfather, which leads to her death and his too.

When a person suggest a book to read it depends of the adviser and the person receiving the advise.
He has been independent on his choice of reading, he learnt to read sooner than most kids as he had weak ankles and learned to walk slowly. His grandmother read a lot to him (school stories). From the school stories he went to:
- Eric, or, Little by Little is a book by Frederic W. Farrar. A boy goes to India to get educated where he ends up losing everything.
-St. Winifred's by Frederic William Farrar. The story is another one about the intimate details of a life in a boys' boarding school in late Victorian England.
Only sensible reason for reading is if we enjoy it or hope to enjoy it.
2 types of reading; private reading and technical reading. Technical reading refers to the reading of subject books. Private reading refers to the reading of books for pleasure and entertainment.
People have queer reasons for reading; "so that they are able to say they have read it" and they feel it will do them good so they take it as a duty.
Strong explains that if the work being read is a technical book, then even without interest and as a duty they can read it. If it is literature then this way cannot be applied to the novel or poem as it will just be a waste of time.
Lines 92-100
His favourite magazine: The Captain was a magazine for young boys, published monthly in the United Kingdom from 1899 to 1924. It is perhaps best known for printing many of P. G. Wodehouse's early school stories, such as many of those featured in the collection Tales of St. Austin's (1903).
He says that P.G. Wodehouse was better than the adventures of Tom Merry of Harry Wharton and Co.

When Strong was recovering from measles his dad read him stories by W.W Jacob's, which he fell in love with. He would look for books by him everywhere he went as he found them hilarious.
- W.W Jacobs: William Wymark Jacobs, was an English author of short stories and novels. Although much of his work was humorous, he is most famous for his horror story "The Monkey's Paw".
A boy at school suggested to him that if he liked Jacobs then he would love Dickens, which he tried and the boy was correct.
Lines 119-145
Priggish: self-righteously moralistic and superior.
Sissy: cowardly.
Lines 146-164
Most people have naturally good taste and have read all types of books but this is not the case as many just stick to one "sort" and wont ever find out that there are other sorts of reading. They know what they like unless someone forces them to read early in their life which puts the pleasure of reading completely.

Strong does not believe that anyone should be forced to read and tat
only a sane person
reads for pleasure. It is the readers personal choice and teachers should only broaden the perspective of the reader so that he/she understands that there is much delight with greater variety of reading.
The point of reading good books is that they give you more pleasure than the ones which are not as good as they are "less well written and less true".

Strong concludes his essay by stating that he only reads books to gain pleasure from them, if he finds them boring then he simply stops. The last line is powerful and say that no one can bully him into liking something he did not like, and he will also not force any one else.
Lines 101-118
William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. Strong recollects his introduction to the author, emphasising that the teacher had helped to make Shakespeares plays more interesting.

In 1907 his father took him to see Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, he was an English actor and theater manager. Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree was in the Merchant of Venice (a play by William Shakespeare). After this play, Strong continued to read all the plays he could find and he clearly states that it was for only one reason:
because he liked them
He enjoyed poems too, due to his teacher who would ensure communication from the students, whether they liked the work or not. The english teacher would not "ram" things in front of them.

Strong enjoyed poetry and felt that others would too unless it was being forced upon them, being told to memorise the whole work or being bullied for enjoying poetry. Apart from these reasons he saw no reason to not find pleasure in poetry.
Charles Dickens: He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era ( 20 June 1837 till 22 January 1901). Some of his very famous works which you may be familiar with is Oliver twist and A Christmas Carol.

The school mistress (teacher) helped Strong to enjoy poems, book and plays and did not judge them on "labels", he just liked a book if he enjoyed it. He enjoyed
David Copperfield
The captain
due to the simplicity that the teacher taught it in.
You should read because you like it and not read something that bores you.
- Dick Turpin: was an English highwayman whose exploits were romanticised following his execution in York for horse theft.
- Jack Sheppard: was a notorious English thief and gaol-breaker of early 18th-century London.
These novels were adventurous at first but he soon grew out of them; just like we grow out of other things (fairies, teddy bears and Jemima Puddle-Duck.
We cannot stick onto one genre as it become monotonous and we feel like changing. A thought oppoiste to this is that some people never grow out of some books (penny-bloods and gangster books) and can never read anything else.
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