Reader Know Thyself

by N Rubakin



1 Read carefully each question and underline the answer which applies to you.

2 Should you wish to give more information, write it at the end of the question or on a separate sheet.

3 Return your completed questionnaire to the Institut International de Psychologie Bibliologique (Lausanne, Avenue des Mousquines, 38, Telephone 25363).


1 How old are you? 16-20? 21-25? 26-30? 31-35? 36-45? 46-60? over 60?

2 Sex: Male? Female? Married? Unmarried?

3 Nationality and mother tongue? Which other languages do you know?

4 Your environment: Town? Village? Factory? Shop? Office? School? Any other?

5 How do you earn your living: Manual labour? Intellectual work? Annuity? How many years have you been in your occupation?

6 In which type of school have you studied or are you studying: Primary? Secondary? Higher? Professional? How many years of study have you had?

7 What appeals to you in the book? a The knowledge you get from it? b The ideas it awakens in you (eg in explaining life around you, suggesting a judgment of value)? c Moral outlook and enlightenment about the meaning of life? d Any practical suggestions about your work? About improving the conditions of life? Your personal life? Your family’'s? Social? National? International? e Any social or political trends: Socialist or antisocialist? Liberal or conservative? Religious or antireligious? Communist or anticommunist? f The pleasure of reading as a mere pastime?

8 Are you able to read two books concurrently? Yes? No? Not much? Two novels or two serious books? A novel and a serious book? Does alternate reading tire you? Does it prevent you from remembering what you have read?

9 Which fields of knowledge do you like best?

10 Which sciences do you like least? Which do not interest you at all?

11 What does interest you most? a Inorganic nature (minerals, physics, chemistry) or living nature (animals, plants) or mankind? b External life or inner life? c Social life or individual life? d Science or religion? e Knowledge of facts or mystical knowledge?

12 What helps you to remember the content of a book: a Underlining the parts which you liked? b Making a summary of them? c Repeating them to other people? d Any other method?

13 Do you give up reading a book before you come to the end? Sometimes? Rarely? Always? Never? Often?

14 Are you afraid of clashes of ideas, of obstacles, of responsibility? Yes? No? Not much? What do you do: a Do you avoid them? b Do you attempt to overcome them? c Do clashes of ideas irritate you?

15 Which books have impressed you most, which do you remember best, which have influenced you: a In your childhood? b In your adult life?

16 What are your favourite works now, your bedside books? Do you read them more than once?

17 Do you prefer to read a book after you have read a criticism of it? Or before reading a criticism? Does a negative review prevent you from reading the book?

18 Which books (plays or films) do you still remember though they caused you displeasure, disgust?

19 How do you explain that your favourite book has had such a great influence on you? Was it: a Its subject or plan (events described, action, plot)? b Its characters? c Its artistic description of nature? Of the human soul (ideas, feelings, motivations)? Of man’s activity, of work? Of suffering? Of social life and struggles? d Its reasoning, analysis, reflections? e The way the book is written, its esthetic form? f Because the book treats a question which is new to you? g Because it strikes your imagination?

20 Do you become oblivious of what goes around you when you read? Yes? No? Often? Rarely? Never?

21 Have you read many books: Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? Novels and short stories? Sciences? Natural sciences? Social sciences? Religious sciences? Historical sciences? Philosophical sciences? Travels? Theatre? Poetry? Fine arts? Technology?

22 While reading an interesting book are you able at the same time to listen to a conversation? or to music?

23 Which part of mathematics do you prefer: Arithmetic? Geometry? Algebra? Trigonometry? Analysis?

24 Do you study mathematics with or without training? With or without effort?

25 Do you take interest in books containing detailed descriptions of some objects and their classification: Zoology? Botany? Mineralogy? Physics? Chemistry? Do you study the world distribution of such objects? Yes? No?

26 Having read a very interesting book do you feel the need to talk about it with other people, to share with them your impressions, thoughts, to tell them about its content? Yes? No? Do you like to do so immediately after reading it or later?

27 Do you like to solve difficult mathematical problems? Yes? No?

28 How do you proceed? Do you find the solution at once or do you reach it by sustained reasoning?

29 Are you interested in the origin and evolution of stars and planets, plants or animals, man, social life? Yes? No? Little?

30 Are you interested more in forms (aspects) or in their origins and development?

31 Do you like history books? Which do you prefer: Short outlines? Detailed descriptions of historical scenes? Biographies of famous figures?

32 Which type of history attracts you most: Your own country’s? Other countries? World history? History of civilisations?

33 What do you remember best: Coloured pictures? Tunes and sounds? Faces? Landscapes? Gestures? Poems? Sentences? Events? Dates? Numbers? Formulae? Author’s chain of ideas and reasoning? Your past feelings? Movements? Manual work processes?

34 Are you able to keep on with a work you do not like? For months? Years? All your life? Do you like your profession? Yes? No?

35 When you have read a very interesting book do you start another one immediately or do you need a break? A few hours? A day? Longer? None at all?

36 What do you find most interesting about an event: a Why it has taken place (its causes)? b How it has happened (its description, details)? c What its consequences have been? d Do you look for its hidden significance and final aim?

37 Do you prefer books which contain facts or those in which reasoning predominates?

38 Do you prefer books in which facts are described in detail or do you prefer those in which facts are merely indicated?

39 Indicate the most serious and most difficult scientific and other reading you have ever done or attempted. Did you complete it or not?

40 Do you like the theatre: Comedy? Tragedy? Opera? Operetta? Do you like the cinema? Yes? No? For its own sake or for the subject matter?

41 Do you like books filled with reasoning which cite few or no examples (facts)? Yes? No? Reasoning on: Social life? Morals? Literary works? Philosophy? Religion? Politics? Current affairs? Fine arts? An environment similar to your own? A different one? Science?

42 Do you like books that are written with feeling, warmth, that stimulate, disturb, impress, torment you? Or do you prefer those in which the development is impartial, objective, impassive, written in an even and cold style? Which do you remember more easily: the former or the latter?

43 Do you visit museums: Of fine arts? Natural sciences? History and archaeology? Industries and technology? Yes? No? Often? Rarely?

44 Do you like travel and excursions on foot? Sport? Yes? No?

45 Do you like word puzzles, charades, crosswords? Yes? No? How do you solve them: Quickly? Or after reflection?

46 When you read a biography or a novel are you able to identify yourself with the characters? Yes? No? Which characters?

47 Do you like chess? Yes? No?

48 Do you feel most attracted by what is far or what is near you? By what touches you personally? By what has no connection with you? By what is feasible? Or what belongs to a dream?

49 Do you like music? Yes? No? Are you a musician? Do you play an instrument or do you sing? Do you like the gramophone? The radio? Do you prefer music? Painting? Sculpture? Architecture?

50 Do you like nature and in what way: a To admire, contemplate its beauty? b To observe, study it, explain its phenomena and their causes? c To look at its practical usefulness?

51 Do you like descriptions of adventures and travels? Detective stories?

52 Does the lasting impression of a book you like continue for: One hour? A day? A month? Years? All your life?

53 Do you like tales? Fantastic stories? Utopian stories? Do you like to imagine things?

54 Have you ever written any poems, books, articles? Have they been published? Do you enjoy writing your diary? Long letters to your friends?

55 Have you had occasion to show your initiative: In business, trade, administration? In teaching? In scientific research? In art? In social action? In philanthropy?

56 Do you read fast or slowly? Give an approximate evaluation of the number of pages read per hour. For a novel: 10-20, 20-30, 30-40, 40-50, 50-60, over 60. For a scientific work: 5-10, 10-20, 20-30, 30-40, 40-50, over 50.

57 Do you cry during the reading of a novel or a poem? At the theatre or the cinema?

58 Has your life been tormented, upset, full of struggles? Do obstacles and difficulties easily irritate you?

59 Which dailies and magazines do you usually read? Or are you not interested in periodicals and in the life they describe?

6o Do you find competitive sport exciting? Yes? No? Do you like risk? Competition? Matches? Challenges?

61 Can you visualize the characters and events when reading? Do you see them in colours? In shapes? Do you hear them? Do you see them in motion and action? Do they represent social, moral, or other ideas?

62 Do you prefer to read for yourself or to be read to? Do you prefer a freely spoken lecture or a lecture which is read?

63 Does the fighting of obstacles tire you or does it stimulate your energy?

64 Do you like to dream, to build castles in the air?

65 Can you study without fatigue for 2-3, 4-5, 6-7 hours non-stop?

66 Do you like descriptions of places and countries?

67 Which kind of heroes and martyrs do you most admire: Military? Religious? Moral? Revolutionary? Scientific? Explorers? Sportsmen? Whom do you consider a great man? Name one or several. You may name a well known person, a fictional character or a person known to you who have fought for: a scientific truth; b social justice; c charity; d beauty; e progress in practical life.

68 When you come upon a passage you do not understand do you interrupt your reading to think about it or do you go on without stopping?

69 Do you read to forget your personal sufferings, sorrows or failure in life? Yes? No? Novels? Poetry? Religious books? Philosophical books? Scientific books?

70 Do you like to analyse and criticise a book during or after reading? Do you find objections easily? Do you never criticise authors? Do you not like to? Or are you not able to?

71 Do you like to read about miracles? What are they to you: Misunderstood phenomena? Deviations from natural laws? Something possible? Impossible? Mysterious? Beyond knowledge?

72 Do large volumes frighten you or not?

73 Can you read attentively in a noisy atmosphere? When people are talking around you?

74 Can you stand criticisms of the works of great writers, philosophers, scientists, as well as the founder of your religion? Yes? No? Should they simply be approved? Yes? No? Who, in your opinion, has found the absolute truth?

75 Do you prefer to invent, combine, create or to imitate and follow the examples of others? Do you follow fashionable trends?

76 How do you choose your reading: From the title? From advertisements? On your friends’advice? By any other method?

77 Is there anything in the world that is beyond doubt? Yes? No? What?

78 If you were exiled on a desert island and allowed to take one object only what would you choose?

79 How is your health: Quite good? Do you suffer from nervous diseases? Chronical diseases?

80 What do you expect from this questionnaire: That it should help you to know yourself? That it should help you to choose your readings? That, by the chosen books, you should be able to know the life and world around you? Do you like to deepen your personality, to reflect about yourself, about your conduct?

81 Read the following words and mark with an X (or several according to the intensity of your feelings) those which stimulate and strike your imagination, and with an O those which leave you indifferent. Cross out those which call out aversion in you: Abnegation Absolute Abstemiousness Acquisition Affliction Anger Anxiety Appetite Aspiration Beauty Beyond Boredom Candidness Capital Caress Certitude Charity Chastity Clarity Comical Community Companionship Compassion Complaisance Concentration Concord Confidence Constraint Consummation Contemplation Contrast Cordiality Culpability Cult Curiosity Death Death penalty Decency Deception Defiance Deprivation Devotion Discipline Disdain Disinterest Divination Divinity Docility Domination Doubt Downheartedness Duty Economy Ecstasy Egoism Elan Elegance Energy Entertainment Erotism Esprit de corps Eternity Exactness Exigency Faith Faithfulness Fashion Femininity Fight for life Flirt Foresight Fortune Fraternity Friendship Future Gastronomy Generosity Glory God's will Gracious Gratefulness Gratitude Grudge Gymnastics Happiness Hardness Harmony Hate Health Honour Hope Ideal Illness Imitation Impassivity Impulse Indefatigability Independence Infinite Insistence Intimacy Intoxication Irritability Joie de vivre joy jubilation justice Kindness Laughter Liveliness Love Luxury Magnificence Malice Material interests Meditation Melancholia Memories Military glory Military honours Modesty Moral conscience Moral effort Moral nobleness Movement Muscle strength Naivety Objectivity Opposition Originality Ostentation Pain Passion Patience Patriotism Perfume Physical effort Pity Playfulness Pleasure Power Prayer Pride Probity Property Punishment Rebellion Reflection Refutation Remorse Resistance Resolution Rest Retribution Revenge Revolution Sacraments Sanctity Satiation Satire Self Self-consciousness Self-esteem Sincerity Sleep Snobism Social freedom Softness Solidarity Sorrow Sublime Submission Success Supernatural Temperance Tolerance Tradition Tragical Truth Unhappiness Victory Vigour Wealth Weariness Weeping Well-being Wickedness Will power.

SOURCE: Rubakin, Nicholas (Nikolai Aleksandrovich). “Reader Know Thyself,” in Nicholas Rubakin and Bibliopsychology, edited by Sylva Simsova, translated by M. Mackee and G. Peacock (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1968), pp. 47-53.

Note: According to the Guide to the Literature on Bibliopsychology by S. Simsova, this was the third of four of Rubakin’s surveys of reading:

c) 1928-1930: International enquiry ‘Reader know yourself’. This brought 500 replies from readers in various parts of the world. A sample from this questionnaire was included in an appendix to no 742 La psychologie de la bibliothèque populaire (see above). A translation of the questionnaire in full is included in this volume. [p. 70]

Simsova also says:

There are only two articles on bibliopsychology in English: L Turin ‘Dr N Roubakin on bibliopsychology’ Psyche 9 April 1929 74-93, and S Simsova ‘Nicholas Rubakin and Bibliopsychology’ Libri 16 (2) 118-129. [p. 70]

Table of Contents:

Introduction, by D. J. Foskett [7]

The psychology of the public library, by N. Rubakin and M. Bethmann [9]
The ‘special method’ of bibliopsychology, by N. Rubakin [26]
‘Reader, know thyself’, by N. Rubakin [47]

Letter to N. A. Rubakin, by V. A. Karpinskii [54]
The life of Nicholas Rubakin, by A. N. Rubakin [58]
Guide to the literature on bibliopsychology, by S. Simsova [68-71]

Index [73-76]

References & Links:

Aref’eva, E. P. “Rubakin, Nikolai Aleksandrovich,” in The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition, 1970-1979; published by The Gale Group, 2010.

De Kay, John W. Women and the New Social State; Appendix B: A short bibliographical review of the origin and development of the idea of the "Society of nations," by Dr. Nicholas Roubakine; 23 p. at end. Lucerne, 1918.

"Founder of Bibliopsychology" [Nikolai Rubakin], The Moscow News, 2002, no. 26.

Lenin, V. I. Book Review: N. A. Rubakin, Among Books (Vol. II. Nauka Publishers, Moscow, 1913. Second Edition). Published: Prosveshcheniye No. 4, April 1914. See: Lenin, Collected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972), Volume 20, pp. 259-261. [Also published in Lenin and Books—link inactive]. See also Lenin’s contribution to Rubakin’s volume: On Bolshevism. See also Letter to N. A. Rubakin, January 25, 1913, in Lenin, Collected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976), Volume 35, p. 73. [Also Letter to N. A. Rubakin, January 25, 1913 in Lenin and Books (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1971), p. 125—link inactive.]

Online Books by N. A. Rubakin (Rubakin, N. A. (Nikolai Aleksandrovich, 1862-1946) (The Online Books Page).

Rubakin Nikolai (Celebrities: Russian site). (Rough, incomplete translation).

Senn, Alfred Erich. Nicholas Rubakin: A Life for Books. Newtonville, MA: Oriental Research Partners, 1977. (Russian biography series; no. 1)

Simsova, Sylva, comp. Nicholas Rubakin and Bibliopsychology, translated by M. Mackee and G. Peacock. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1968.

How to Study: A Guide for Students
(Jefferson School of Social Science; attributed to Harry K. Wells)

Intellectual Life in Society, Conventional and Unconventional: A Bibliography in Progress

Audience/Reading Public, Professionalization/Specialization of Writers, Literary Forms,
Division of Labor: Bibliography

Thinking Critically About Critical Thinking: A Guide

Salvaging Soviet Philosophy (1)

Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Coming Attractions | Book News
Bibliography | Mini-Bibliographies | Study Guides | Special Sections
My Writings | Other Authors' Texts | Philosophical Quotations
Blogs | Images & Sounds | External Links

CONTACT Ralph Dumain

Uploaded 13 October 2013

Site ©1999-2021 Ralph Dumain