Reading Should Never Be A Chore

Reading Should Never Be A Chore

I became more concerned with fleeting soundbites and less excited by everlasting words on a page.

Some time between discovering Netflix and receiving my first high school reading assignment, I stopped reading books. My priorities shifted from finding out the fate of Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin after their encounter with the Man with Red Eyes, to finding out what happened to Agent Scully after she was abducted by aliens.

I became more concerned with fleeting soundbites and less excited by everlasting words on a page.

I know I’m not the only person with this problem, and especially not the only millennial. Millennials grew up in the midst of a societal shift from page to screen, from VHS to DVD to streaming, from CD to MP3.

Now, there’s an incredible amount of information available, and we expect to get that information in five seconds or less. If we don’t, we check our wifi connection. So, if books can’t be read, processed and understood in five seconds, then what’s the point of reading them?

But it would be irresponsible to blame this problem solely on the habits of my own generation. It’s not really our fault, anyway.

Yes, we may have shorter attention spans, but that doesn’t mean we’re stupid – we just process information faster. When boring required reading in high school is added to the mix, we can throw reading for pleasure down the drain.

When I was a kid, I read books like my life depended on it. Nancy Drew was my hero, Esperanza Ortega was my inspiration and Charlie was my pen pal. I used bubble mint gum wrappers to mark my favorite quotes, and I mastered the art of dog-earing pages to the exact word I stopped reading at.

But my love for reading halted the moment I opened "Fahrenheit 451" the summer before my freshman year of high school. I’ve read the book a second time since then, and I can appreciate it in all of my adult-ness, but at 14 years old, I had no idea how I was supposed to interpret book burning and reading the Bible in its entirety on the train.

For the first time in my academic life, I felt dumb, unable to understand the material I was supposed to be understanding.

This got worse as I moved through required reading after required reading. Eventually, I just stopped reading books altogether. I wasn’t keeping up with "The Heart of Darkness" or "A Tale of Two Cities" in my World Literature class, and I barely opened "House of Mirth" or "Jane Eyre" in my AP English classes.

Somehow, I still managed to get good grades in those classes, but that’s beside the point.

My distaste for the books I was required to read in school translated into a distaste for books in general. At that point, books took too long to finish, weren’t as important as binging “The X-Files,” “Glee” or “Friends,” had words in them that I didn’t know and were difficult to fully understand.

But I can’t blame this problem on the high school system, either. The books they make us read really are important, anyway.

It was around this time in high school that I got my first job. I only worked about 12 hours a week, but my dramatic high school self-thought this excruciating schedule excused me from completing my required reading.

Instead, I scrolled through Tumblr or fell down Wikipedia rabbit holes. I was completely turned off by reading and turned on to my phone.

The phone issue hasn’t gone away. I wish I could read for pleasure more often, but I just don’t have time – this time for real. And that bothers me.

I’m 19 years old. I shouldn’t be scrambling to fit time into my schedule to read a chapter of a good book simply because I feel the need to watch 13 YouTube videos in a row or try to beat another level of "Best Fiends" in between homework assignments.

But I can’t blame this problem on having a job, a lot of homework and an iPhone, either. Everyone else has the same problems, anyway.

I don’t know if there is any real solution to this problem. Maybe we can all take a cue from Andrew Sullivan and put our phones away for a bit, and we might end up finishing the book that’s been sitting on the nightstand for three months. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to read every now and then. Baby steps.
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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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Back to school ads have started and i'm here for it

Pencils, pens, and markers, oh my!


Now before anyone gets their panties in a twist, I'm not wishing summer away. I love the sun and the relaxation as much as the next person, but I am SO excited for back to school shopping.

Can you think of anything more satisfying than opening a new, pretty planner and filling in the lines with your schedule and to-do lists? Actually, I can- crossing those things off your to-do list. And you know the feeling when you flip to the first page of a notebook and try out every color of your brand new pens and/or markers? No? Yeah, okay, these might just be me but those are just a couple reasons I love back to school shopping.

Take a quick stroll through Target or Walmart and you can see school supplies everywhere you turn. I remember picking out different colored folders and notebooks for each class when I was a kid and everything corresponded. If I couldn't find a folder to match my notebook then you had better believe I changed colors to make everything match.

Back to school shopping is the perfect time to get your life organized before your normal switches up again. Going from lazy days to 3, 4, even 5 classes a day starting at 8 am is a huge change. When I have new school supplies, room decorations, clothes, etc. it makes that transition so much easier. I'll be a sophomore in college and yes, I still struggle with that transition.

Back to school shopping reminds me that it is possible for me to have some control and to have my life together. It's nice to start off the new semester with everything nice and clean and organized before the craziness takes over. So, call me crazy, but I'm here for back to school ads because I am here for the calm before the storm.

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