THE DEAN'S CORNER -- March 1926

Dean 0. J. Ferguson


Read what?
What books?
Aye, there's the rub!
For what purpose do we read books?

Of course we must make it plural. There are more reasons, my dear Horatio, than one.

There are books which we read for information; books we read for amusement; books we read for instruction; books we read for life, as Lewisohn says; and books which Heaven only knows why anybody should read! Who is to know what to read?

Fortunately in the great list of things appearing in print and demanding our attention, there are people whose business it is to evaluate them and review them. Again, literature has been in the making so long that there are established standards and a great library of worthy examples. We need not confine our attention or interests to any one field. We may roam at will from travel to poetry; fiction to history; philosophy to romance; theology to science. In fact, it is very desirable that we should browse around and do general reading as we may make opportunity.

There is always something discouraging and appalling about a long list of books presented with the comment that "No man can be considered educated unless———", etc. You know the way they say it. Even a hint to that effect makes one resentful. Hence, in presenting below, to engineering students, a short list of titles, I need only say that they are not the books. They are merely some books, the reading of which will prove of interest and of value. No pretense is made to "cover" great literature. In fact we scarcely enter that field. I hope, at some later time to have published more formally a little leaflet presenting a wider range of subjects with classifications that may help the inquirer to direct his attention more effectively. In the meantime, there are shown titles, in the listing of which I have been assisted by a publication of the College of Engineering, University of Illinois and also by Miss Beatrice Johnson, Professor of English, Washington State Normal School, Bellingham, Washington.