Out of a hundred who are able to read, ninety generally read nothing but newspapers, a species of reading which demands no exertion. It is also true that most people read without paying any particular attention; perhaps they select reading-matter which does not deserve any particular attention. What wonder, then, that they forget what they read? Everyone will recollect the frequent remark: “It is no use talking to me about this book or that book — I certainly read them — I believe — some years ago, but I have the unfortunate faculty of forgetting everything I read.” Many, after all, are not accustomed to understand fully. For instance, when young people read books in foreign languages, often they do not look up in the dictionary the words they do not understand; they infer them from the sentence — so they say — that is, they understand half, and that is enough for them.
(Georg Brandes, “On Reading,” The International Quarterly, Vol. XII, January 1906, p. 273).