Once upon a time, in a land not so different from our own, masters of the written word reigned over the world. They gave our ancestors an escape from the ordinary, drab lives they lived. It was a time when people picked up books, instead of Facebook stalking; a time when we allowed our imaginations to work instead of getting sucked into flashy, bold pictures on huge screens.
Somewhere between the required novels of high school and the $400 text books of college, we’ve forgotten the pure enjoyment of reading for fun. We say we don’t have time to read, sometimes going as far as to say if the book is any good they’ll make it into a movie.
We’re tired and drained from day-to-day activities, and when all is said and done we don’t want to have to think about anything. We would rather have instant gratification sitting in front of our computer and television screens than explore the once immortal words of authors like Emerson and Austen. We’re lazy.
I’m not saying that I’m a book saint; in fact it wasn’t until a few months ago that I started reading for fun again. Sure, I read the Twilight Saga last year, and maybe a few inspirational books here and there, but it wasn’t until the beginning of junior year that I began realizing how much I missed reading.
I was addicted to two things as a child: fruit and books. I would stay up past my bedtime to sneak in a few more pages to get that much closer to the story’s resolution. I could get completely lost in the words regardless if my little sister was running around the house screaming or if the music was playing loudly in the car. Once, I could zone everything out, and I could enter these new and exciting worlds. Now I can get those diversions from real life everywhere I turn, but I realize those short bursts don’t have as much of an impact as books do.
I personally have to set aside time to read fun books, and if I can only get a few pages in before I go to sleep, that’s better than nothing at all. I have also started a list of books people recommend to me. Normally when people would suggest a book I would merely nod my head, but in the last month I’ve read three suggested books and discovered new authors I’ve grown to love.
Honestly, what’s stopping you from picking up a book? Forget the time factor. What’s really stopping you? In our world, where newspapers are biting the dust left and right, and the Internet is becoming more integral in our lives, will we have to worry about the physical book ceasing to exist? With Kindle breaking into the market, are we eventually going to see a world where we have to be plugged in to read our favorite classics?
I can’t imagine life without the physical book. I may be old-fashioned, but there is something about turning the pages of a book, or opening the huge spreads of “The New York Times,” that makes reading that much more gratifying. People have tried for years to annihilate books by banning them, but the books have prevailed. Will they be able to stand up against the threat of digitalization? I hope so.
My greatest fear is that Ray Bradbury’s prediction of the future in “Fahrenheit 451” is not far from the path we are on today. What if the billions and billions of pages of history, biography, fiction, non-fiction, romance and science fiction thrillers were all thrown into a giant bonfire, no longer to exist?
How can we keep this from happening? Read. Read whatever and whenever you can. Read “Twilight,” read “Moby Dick,” read the “Brothers Karamazov,” read the Bible; I really don’t care, just read. Get lost from the realities of life for a bit; we need to divert more of our lives from the digital lifestyle we are so accustomed to.