February is a month of language and books in Bangladesh but in the world it is a month of International Mother Language. All these happened because of the Language Movement on 21st February in 1952. Bangla-speaking people in the eastern part of the then Pakistan fought against Urdu for Bangla. May be the language martyrs and the veterans visualized the future of West Pakistan and also the influence the country would garner in the international community. So they fought for Bengali which is next to Arabic language-speaking Muslim community. Two hundred eighty million people in 26 countries speak Arabic while 250 million people use Bangla in eight countries. The latter is the fifth language in the world for which Salam, Barkat, Rafik and Jabber sacrificed their lives.
In 1950s over 50000 journals were published but the figure reached 1000000 in 2000. So many scholars are publishing so many scholarly articles at a rate of 694 journals per day. Nearly 29 journals per hour and over one journal in two minutes. What a mammoth amount of journals are published? So many intellectual stuff for scholarly people only. Journal companies are there to do these jobs all day and night. Intellectual property rights law is there for safeguard them. Patent offices are equally busy in delineating their sisterly jobs in cooperation with the academicians and journal companies. Everything is being done for humanity, anyone related with these industries may easily claim. But reality is that the more the research works, researchers, research funds the more the world is getting dogged by problems.
Many publishers and writers pass hectic time in book writing and publishing in February in Bangladesh. But seeing the spree of book publications in the world one Bangladeshi can easily mistake the whole year for February. The publication madness all the year round is equally hectic. In spite of the exponential decline in readership, thanks to TV, internet, movie and other visual media, the world is now producing 1051200 a year. Wow! At a rate of a book per every thirty seconds. What a gigantic number of books the industry publishes! So many books in one single year! Seemingly publication of books is booming when book reading is beleaguered rather the habit nose-dives. The former is in the zenith and latter is in the nadir. Whereas in the dawn of human history there were no books for the humanity except some commandments or directives. Adam the first homo sapiens without book was the best man on the earth who was ever born. Noah needed no book to guide his people though very small in number. Other prophets also followed the path of purifying the humanity, some without nothing or the previous or some with some commandments. Several thousand years elapsed without a complete book.
For the first time in human history on Moses/Musa (peace be upon him) got a book called ‘Torah’ to guide his people. It was the first complete book of the human history when there was not too many people. When Prophet Jesus/Issa (peace be upon him) was living there was as many as 25 crore people. There were then only three major books — Old Testament (the Torah), Jabur and New Testament (the Injhil or Bible). The Jabur was revealed on Dawood/David (peace be upon him). The time of Musa was preceded by Issa. The time was around three thousand years ago when there was a small number of people on earth. According to CIA fact sheet of demography the planet was inhabited by over 250 million when Prophet Issa/Jesus (peace be upon him) lived. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was living on the planet at best 350 million people lived in on the earth and during 1800AD there were one billion people. Now it is 7.1 billion. And now according to ‘The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing’ (1450-1800) the publication spree peaked in 2000 to 52 million whereas in 1550AD only 500 titles came to market.
How many books one can read in 50 years
If a reader reads voraciously all through his/her life s/he might have read more than one per second. So 3600 words can be read in an hour. Book reading speed varies book to book, time to time and person to person. One can read more than that very easily. But if you are examined on what you have written you must need more time to scan than skim. Rapid reading of story books is very easy.
As Francis Bacon in his essay ‘Of Studies’ said,
STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight, is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment, and disposition of business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best, from those that are learned. To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humor of a scholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience: for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need proyning, by study; and studies themselves, do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation. Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books, else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit: and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know, that he doth not. Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores. Nay, there is no stond or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit studies; like as diseases of the body, may have appropriate exercises. Bowling is good for the stone and reins; shooting for the lungs and breast; gentle walking for the stomach; riding for the head; and the like. So if a man’s wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again. If his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the Schoolmen; for they are cymini sectores. If he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call up one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study 197 the lawyers’ cases. So every defect of the mind, may have a special receipt.
Very illogically indeed without any option of eating, drinking, merry-making, toileting or even sleeping a bookworm can read 1892160000 words (189.21 crore or 1892.1 million) in a solar year. And if he reads incessantly for 50 years in his life s/he could hardly read 94608000000 words (9460.80 crore or 94608 million). The calculation may open up your eyes and you will be wondered how many books you can read in your life. The more you spend time for eating, drinking, merry-making, toileting or even sleeping the less you read. But you can read 30 words when a whole book is being published every after 30 seconds. So you can’t read more than 30 words of the books, be it small or huge like those of Encyclopedia of Britannica let alone finish the latest books published in last one week. Don’t ponder on those published before your birth collected old collections in the Congress Library, British Library or Dhaka University Central Library.
How many books are needed to make human sensible?
Once I asked one of my leftist colleague of the guidance of humanity. He replied, ‘One composition at the end of Bengali grammar book’. Hmm… He probably over-simplified life along with its critical and serious questions. What he meant that a couple of proverbs — never tell a lie or always speak the truth and the such like. Are such cliché proverbs enough to answer the question of the humanity and enough to guide them properly. May be he wanted scientific inventions or secular civic laws to shoot the troubles of life. And answer the questions related with it. That 17 years schooling makes one capable of learning a life skill is known by everyone but there will be a few to tell how many hours in ethics and values classes needed to make one very sensible and moral. The question of morality and ethics is rather one of the lowest ranking discourses among the academicians dominating the western world than being popular.
The holy Torah, The holy Injhil contained some commandments while the holy Quran contains some guidelines for the humanity. It is usually said that some 500 shariah ayats are enshrined in the holy Quran. Four great prophets had their books to guide and the rest of the prophets had to guide their community in line with the books of the four great prophets. It may be very logical for the development of science and technology but to be a good leader or leaders one must need not so many books rather some commandments. May be ten or 500 commandments are enough. You don’t need to read a book every after thirty seconds to be a good professor, scientist, doctor or a journalist. Do you!