Recreational reading restores rich culture of ideas

In a time of instant gratification and social media, books can provide both a rest and challenge to students.



Justin Yun, Writer

Reading for fun may seem like an unattractive activity to engage in, considering the amount of reading many students have to do for classes. However, recreational reading is the only way to actively encourage students to engage in a rich culture of books and ideas. The books students read for fun outside the classroom — not textbooks or assigned reading — can add dimensions to an individual’s thinking process and foster a plethora of beliefs. The quick and cheap gratification readily supplied by social media and technology ultimately amount to a poor substitution for providing an individual with knowledge and ideas necessary for personal and intellectual growth.

killing what was once a rich culture

I have met voracious readers on campus, but more often than not, students who do read for fun are only able to read just a handful of books per year. This generation’s addiction to technology and social media is killing what was once a rich culture of reading and dialogue. This article is not a luddite’s condemnation of this generation’s overall relationship with technology. There are numerous instances where people have used social media in positive ways, but more often than not, social media has simultaneously been the young adult’s favorite way to squander time and expend energy.

Students should not be afraid of reading books or literature that may seem out of one’s comfortable realm of knowledge. My personal struggle to understand the political and historical complexities of neoliberal economic development in Latin America — a topic well outside my realm of knowledge — has influenced me to study political science and plan a career centered on solving social injustices and the symptoms of economic inequality. The most obvious value of books is the ways they can personally engender interests and feed insatiable dreams and visions.

read what one wants to read

However, students should also read books about ideas and stories they are passionate about or personally resonate with. In simple terms, read what one wants to read. There is nothing wrong when a student reads a young adult novel, a short poetry book or literature on quantum mechanics. One should not be afraid of reading a book outside of his or her’s comfort zone, but it is also important for students to read something that is reflective of one’s own personal interest. If a person is not interested in the book, then they should put that book down and pick up another one that intrigues them. There are too many books in this world to laboriously read a book one is not engrossed in.

Enjoy the process of letting one’s eye savor each word and sentence, or vigorously take notes on the coffee-stained margins on pages earmarked for a later time. Actively think about what one reads and engrave new ideas into one’s head — gradually engaging in the beautiful process of enriching one’s mind and understanding of a small corner of the world. Reading is beautiful, and while libraries have fallen out of fashion in today’s society, the fascinating niches the remaining independent bookstores have carved in a world dominated by corporate bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, have still maintained their cool. The great novelist and playwright James Baldwin once wrote, “It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

Books provide the fodder for student’s mind what journals, articles and Tumblr posts fail to do.

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