Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students


Worthless Reading

The world is deluged with books that might better be consumed than circulated. Books on sensational topics, published and circulated as a money-making scheme, might better never be read by the youth. There is a satanic fascination in such books. The heartsickening recital of crimes and atrocities has a bewitching power upon many, exciting them to see what they can do to bring themselves into notice, even by the wickedest deeds. The enormities, the cruelties, the licentious practices, portrayed in some of the strictly historical writings, have acted as leaven on many minds, leading to the commission of similar acts. CT 133.2

Books that delineate the satanic practices of human beings are giving publicity to evil. These horrible particulars need not be lived over, and no one who believes the truth for this time should act a part in perpetuating the memory of them. When the intellect is fed and stimulated by this depraved food, the thoughts become impure and sensual. CT 134.1

There is another class of books—love stories and frivolous, exciting tales—which are a curse to everyone who reads them, even though the author may attach a good moral. Often religious statements are woven all through these books, but in most cases Satan is but clothed in angel robes to deceive and allure the unsuspicious. The practice of story reading is one of the means employed by Satan to destroy souls. It produces a false, unhealthy excitement, fevers the imagination, unfits the mind for usefulness, and disqualifies it for any spiritual exercise. It weans the soul from prayer and from the love of spiritual things. CT 134.2

Readers of frivolous, exciting tales become unfitted for the duties of practical life. They live in an unreal world. I have watched children who have been allowed to make a practice of reading such stories. Whether at home or abroad, they were restless, dreamy, unable to converse except upon the most commonplace subjects. Religious thought and conversation was entirely foreign to their minds. With the cultivation of an appetite for sensational stories, the mental taste is perverted, and the mind is not satisfied unless fed upon this unwholesome food. I can think of no more fitting name for those who indulge in such reading than mental inebriates. Intemperate habits of reading have an effect upon the brain similar to that which intemperate habits of eating and drinking have upon the body. CT 134.3

Those who indulge the habit of racing through an exciting story are simply crippling their mental strength and disqualifying their minds for vigorous thought and research. Some youth, and even some of mature age, have been afflicted with paralysis from no other cause than excess in reading. The nerve power of the brain was kept constantly excited, until the delicate machinery became worn and refused to act. Some of its fine mechanism gave way, and paralysis was the result. CT 135.1

There are men and women now in the decline of life who have never recovered from the effects of intemperance in reading. The habit formed in early years grew with their growth and strengthened with their strength. Their determined efforts to overcome the sin of abusing the intellect were partially successful, but they have never recovered the full vigor of mind that God bestowed upon them. CT 135.2