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OPINION: Reading: The great escape

So, who here likes to read? Personally, it’s one of-if not my favorite-pastimes. Over the years, I have come across more and more people who absolutely dislike reading, and this completely blows my mind. Granted, I was an English major in college, so I got my degree in reading, but that’s another story.

While it’s probably the most clichéd thing in the world to say, I can’t help but remind people that books are much, much more than just words on a page. They are a look into the thoughts and soul of an author. Books are a way of transcending reality and going somewhere you’ve never been before. Yes, that part was the ever popular cliché, but I know that all of my fellow readers out there understand me one hundred percent.

One thing that really boggles me is when people say they have no use for reading because of the influx of technology in the world today. How do you expect to get the majority of that knowledge? Nine times out of ten, you have to read about it in an article somewhere.

There was a student in one of my college literature courses who absolutely hated to read, and he told the class that his major was political science. My professor then challenged the student by asking how would he find the news and facts he needed to pursue politics if he did not read? The student responded by saying something like, “Any information I need, I can get from tv.”

Wow. The saddest part was, a majority of the class agreed with him. What I can’t understand is why a person actually hates to read. According to many of the random book haters I’ve spoken to, a resounding response dealt with the fact that they were forced to read books they had no interest in while in elementary, middle and high school. To a degree, I get that. Out of all of the books I had to read in my time in school, there was literally only one that I did not like. But, the idea that I was being forced to read the books did slow my reading process tremendously. When I choose a book and read it on my own, I can speed through it quickly. However, when I am made to read for a project, class, etc. I do take a little more prodding to get around to it.

Reading isn’t just about learning for school, and that’s something I think a lot of people don’t quite get. I think it comes from this mentality of associating books with school and “torture.” My hope is that even if students have a negative experience with reading, they will eventually be able to make their way back to the fun.

While reading is used mainly for gaining knowledge, it can also be used for other means. For example, reading can be used for relaxing after a stressful day. One of the best parts of my day is when I get to go home, sit on my bed and just read for pleasure.

Reading also gives you insight into other parts of the world and other cultures. If you want to learn more about the world around you, you have to explore it. If you’re low on funds and can’t afford a plane ticket, grab a book instead. It’s much cheaper and your imagination can fill in the rest.

Having an active reading life can also help expand your vocabulary as well as your imagination, and it also serves as an amazing conversation starter. Just ask a group of book lovers to name their favorite book, and watch the sparks fly.

Some also think that reading is purely for those of higher intelligence. Let me tell you, I am by no means a highly intellectual person, but I still love to read. I may not be able to explain the deeper and philosophical meanings behind stories, but I do know how to appreciate good writing styles and good story ideas.

My hope is that each person scorned by forced reading will one day be able to find his/her way back to the wonderful world of literature. Until that day comes, you best believe that I will be sprawled out on my bed with my nose buried deep in a good story.