By Kaylee Johnson
It’s easy to get enveloped into the world of “Stranger Things” or “This Is Us” over holiday break, but when spring semester begins you should be able to list some intellectual activities you had engaged in. I will admit that sometimes it is hard for me, as an avid reader, to wrap my mind around the fact that some people do not enjoy reading. I’ve talked to middle-aged adults who claim they have not read a book since high school; a claim like this perplexes me, because reading has so many wonderful benefits. Often, when I hear people say they don’t enjoy reading, I want to tell them that they are reading the wrong genre, or that one dud does not define the wide variety of wonderful novels, plays, prose, short stories, and poems available online, in bookstores, and in libraries.
I think aversions to reading start in high school, when students start reading incredibly difficult and outdated plays and novels. Shakespearean language intimidates teens that are already on the fence about reading. I’m not implying that schools should lower their literacy standards, but there are plenty of great novels that are written in modern day language; also I would love to see newer pieces of writing popping up in high school English classes. Of course, there are instances where people simply dislike sitting down and reading, or they have trouble finishing books. My first suggestion is to not give up on reading, even if you have not found a book you like yet. Well meaning friends may suggest books they enjoyed, but the truth is everybody has different genre or sub-genre that they enjoy. When you do find a book that you love, stay in that genre for a while. Check out New York Times bestseller lists and book reviews if you do not know where to start; the bookstore does not have to be a nerve-wracking place. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help. Librarians, bookstore workers, and literature professors can help you find your genre based on your favorite books, movies, and television series.
Once you find books you enjoy you have to train yourself to finish the books, and read at a steady rate. During holiday break you should try to read for thirty minutes to one hour a day. Here’s another tip, if you do not enjoy a book within your first few days of reading it, put it down. I would not recommend this to people who have been reading a long time, but when you are trying to learn how to read for joy, it is better to stick to books that you want to breeze through.
You should feel proud when you find yourself willingly walking around a bookstore, searching for your next great read. Plus, once you become an avid reader your vocabulary will grow and you will become a better speller. Personally, I view reading as an escape from reality and a walk in another character’s shoes. It can also serve as insight into an author’s writing style and emotions.
After holiday break, joy reading may seem like more of a luxury than a necessary part of your day. If your schedule is always full, consider joining a book club on campus or carry a book in your purse or backpack so you can read whenever you have free time. Read more newspapers and magazines, and subscribe for alerts from your favorite publications. Keep in mind that most English professors have more respect for students who are well versed in a variety of different pieces of writing.
As a future elementary school teacher, I try understand the complexity of learning disabilities. If you struggle with reading comprehension or attention, I recommend audio books. In fact, sometimes audio books are better, especially if the author reads them! Audio books can also be beneficial to education students, because they teach you how to read aloud, and when to take breaths.
Once you start reading this holiday season, you can’t judge yourself. If you see an unfamiliar word, look it up. If you feel bored while reading, stop and come back to it. After you unlock the door to joy reading you will forever be enchanted and surprised by all the new knowledge you are acquiring. It’s the kind of knowledge you can’t acquire from television or movies. If you want to dive in, here are five of my favorite books:
- “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- “Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett
- “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac
- “The Girl in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware
- “The Zookeeper’s Wife” by Diane Ackerman