16 April 2018

Why Soldiers Read

Edward Earle Purinton, Personal Efficiency in Business (New York: Robert M. McBride, 1920), pp. 258-261:
When a man is training to meet death, literary tastes undergo transformation; he ceases to care for the latest news of the sporting circle or the social set or the political grab-bag or the local gossip manufacturers; he has no time to waste on the petty, foul, superficial or trite in literature. But death is no more serious than life, and a man training to meet life should learn to read as wisely and effectively as a soldier. From the statements of military authorities and the records of camp and field librarians we have noted a few of the main reasons and purposes that American soldiers have in mind when they take up a certain book or periodical. They do not always analyze their own mental process, but the results of their instinctive choice of books reveal their subconscious choice, whether analyzed or not.
They read to prepare themselves for new tasks, opportunities and responsibilities.

They read to learn the trend of current events in their line of action the world over.

They read to be able to forecast probabilities and rise to the top in emergencies.

They read to broaden their minds and equip themselves with knowledge that was lacking in their early education.

They read to take their minds off the dangers and difficulties of their work.

They read to soften the pain of wounds and the memory of scars.

They read to conquer loneliness by the mental and moral companionship a good book affords.

They read to shorten the suspense of waiting for only God knows what to happen to them.

They read to overcome physical fatigue with mental refreshment.

They read to understand and remember more clearly what they are fighting for.

They read to think harder and thus to fight better.

They read to get in line for a commission and other chances for promotion.

They read to avoid wasting time and strength in dangerous or vicious amusements.

They read to improve themselves in matters of dress, morals and military conduct.

They read to learn the exact truth in case of argument.

They read to help solve personal and professional problems of all kinds.

They read to break up the depressing monotony of mechanical routine.

They read to develop the free imagination that must offset compulsory action.

They read to learn how to handle their minds and bodies more effectively.

They read to renew their courage, faith, optimism, endurance.

They read to grasp more firmly the basic truths of life and to ground themselves in principles on which they stand immovable.