Reading for pleasure somewhat old-fashioned these days
March 8, 2017
For students especially, reading is less of a thing to be done for fun and more of a requirement.
After plowing through a dense, assigned textbook reading, the last thing a tired student wants to do for fun is pick up another intimidating block of text. Instead, we tend to log onto Netflix, Youtube or Facebook, where we can rest our brains and vegetate for a bit before returning to the stress of school.
We miss out when we do this, however.
Reading serves many purposes. It can inform, for starters. Newspapers and magazines bring us news of things happening in the world. They bring news from far-off places right to our doorsteps, and illuminate little-known stories going on right under our noses. They allow us to make informed decisions, and sometimes prompt us to take action where we might not have otherwise.
That might still be regarded as work, however, so why not pick up a nonfiction book instead? This seems work-intensive as well, but an interesting topic or a good author can turn nonfiction writing a pleasure to read.
Mary Roach’s "Stiff" delves into the subject of human cadavers, hilariously describing the odd things that happen to our bodies after the funeral is over. Tim Cahill’s "Road Fever" recounts the author’s adventures on the Pan-American Highway as he makes a 15,000 mile drive from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
A well-written nonfiction book is never a chore to read, as they can take us all over the world and expose us to odd little facts that we might never have considered otherwise.
For those aiming to well and truly escape this reality for a bit, there’s always fiction, science fiction and fantasy. Through these books, a person can leave this universe altogether, riding into battle with the Rohirrim horse lords of Tolkien’s "Lord of the Rings," or plunging into the dark, twisted universe of demons and gods created by H.P. Lovecraft.
Through fiction, we can pretend for a bit that we are someone else, and in doing so "try on" different personalities. We expose ourselves to new ideas and ways of thinking and occasionally are challenged to look at the world differently.
Overall, reading is not as easy as watching a movie, television show or Vine. That is, after all, why we often decide not to.
By taking the easy route, however, we miss out on a lot. We miss a chance to learn, to explore and to experience things beyond ourselves in a way that Netflix, Youtube and Facebook can’t quite capture.
Sophia Koch is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.