Tamari Ramishvili | Staff Writer
There are many things that can define a person’s lifestyle: mother, wife, student, dancer, athlete, reader. In contemporary society, the lifestyle of a reader has been most drastically changed. People that once found this to be a core part of their lives now turn up their noses at the idea. As TV and internet occupy our time, actual books are given less and less consideration, and their value decreases more and more.
The more advanced and popular the technology, the faster the rate of popularity for reading declines. Books can’t compete with TV and internet, so they gather dust on the shelves, and each writer’s audience shrinks.
I hear students complaining constantly about the two chapters they have to read by the next day, or the twenty page story assigned in their World Masterpieces class. We’ve become so lazy that we’ve attributed a new meaning to the term reading, which now involves the process of pulling up the internet on our laptops, iPads, and Androids to Google a story and read the plot summary on Sparknotes. This has become the norm, which is pretty scary considering the fact that we’re college students at an accredited university.
When it comes to reading, we all fall into one of three categories of readers. There are those of us who, despite all the advancing technology of Kindles and Nooks, still love the feeling of going to a bookstore, buying an actual book, and finding a cozy corner to curl up and read it in for hours at a time. Reading books remains an important part of our lives; it remains our favorite hobby, and we read for enjoyment and for fun.
Then there’s the category of people who read what they’ve been assigned in class. They do all of the assigned reading, getting the most out of the course. However, reading on their own time for enjoyment purposes is a stretch. They might read a book here and there, if it’s recommended by Oprah’s book club, or if it’s widely popular like the Twilight series. But at the end of the day, it isn’t their hobby, and doesn’t hold a special part in their lives.
Finally, there exists the category of people who do everything they can to avoid reading. This is the crowd with the Sparknote and Google app, looking up the story summary as the professor hands out the quiz. They do the minimal amount of reading, just enough to get by. To find out why Sparknotes has become the new definition for reading, and why a significant amount of people fall into the third category of non-readers, we must first ask ourselves why we’ve allowed this to happen. Why is it that we so stubbornly refuse to devote a couple of hours here and there, for our own benefits, to read our course material, rather than playing Words with Friends?
Although TV can be blamed for the beginning of the reading decline, modern technology overall is a considerably large reason for why we aren’t reading today. We have too many other options-easier options. We have quick access to all sorts of information, anywhere, anytime.
We have the option of Sparknotes, where one can obtain an in-depth summary and analysis of the story line; enough needed to score an A on the quiz.
We have movies available to us, based upon many books. We opt for movies because they’re a quicker and, to most, more enjoyable way to get the storyline. We have audiobooks we can download and listen to in the background while we go about our daily activities. We simply don’t want to contribute any effort towards reading, because we don’t have to.
We also don’t want to put in the time, because we have too many other distractions around us. Also, especially if you fall into the second category of people who read for class, you might view reading as a chore. You might unintentionally associate it with school and assignments and fail to see it as an enjoyment activity.
What’s the big deal about books losing their value and people skipping out on reading? Why not take the quicker and easier route, especially with our busy college lives? Why read?
When we read a plot summary online or watch the movie instead of reading the story, we cheat ourselves. We miss out on the experience and fail to get the full story, the setting, the characters’ thoughts and feelings, and miss out on the full immersion in detail; we merely know what happens in the story. But when we actually read the story, we get engulfed in it and rather than a chore, it becomes an activity we look forward to doing. We know who’s doing what in the story, we know of characters’ hidden intentions and thoughts, their feelings, and more. We get involved, and we enjoy the story. When we take the easy way out, we cheat ourselves out of a wonderful experience.
Readingis crucial to academic achievement and overall improvement; they go hand in hand.Readingsharpens the brain. It improves our communication skills, which include thinking, speaking, and writing more effectively. It allows us to run away and escape to places- some nonexistent. It allows us to get lost in our imaginations, to discover new things, new ideas, fresh perspectives. It allows us the ability to stay informed, and it enables us to think, observe, analyze, and reflect, and to make wiser decisions.Readinghas the ability to inspire and to transform lives.
So I invite you to a challenge; a challenge to do yourself a favor and read. Pick up a book that you’re interested in. Don’t like novels? There are books out there based on every hobby or interest, like music, art and photography. It’s time to put down our touch screen devices and experience the wonders of reading, something that was embedded in us as children and is now calling to be revived.