From the inside: The value of a good book

From the inside: The value of a good book

A Wrinkle in Time, The Giver, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Life of Pi, Ready Player One and The Martian all have one thing in common: they’re recent movies adapted from books. Although it may be tempting to wait for a film adaptation of an intriguing book to come out instead of reading it, is often not be the best way to discover a story.

Books have long been cherished as a powerful and beloved companion, allowing people to discover new worlds, ponder philosophical unknowns, question the structure of government and share factual findings. Influential leaders have recognized the value of books and reading for centuries, with Thomas Jefferson famously saying “I cannot live without books.”

In many fictional governments (i.e. dystopian novels) and real-life governments today, books are censored or banned because the leaders of authoritarian states realize the intellectual power and freedom its citizens can gain through reading. With all the censorship hubbub surrounding books, how often do you find yourself taking advantage of unlimited legal access to print books, and e-books? Probably not often.

I admit that the heavy school workload students have here and an overabundance of extracurricular activities makes it hard to find time to read. I often find that textbooks and required readings from English class crowd out the other books I would like to read for fun. Because of this, I tend to cram all my leisurely reading into the summer, and my 2018 summer book list already has around 20 books on it. Despite the struggles of finding time to read, I encourage you to do your best to dive into reading whenever you can.
Last year, I wrote an article about the benefits of reading backed by various studies, including how reading helps you retain information over the summer, expand your vocabulary skills, improve your writing skills, connect with others better, etc. Even if you don’t enjoy reading for fun, just think of all the practical IQ and EQ benefits you’ll gain by kicking back and reading. If you need more motivation to pick up a book, consider all the successful, intelligent people who are avid readers. Bill Gates is perhaps one of the most well-known readers who is also in the financial top one percent. Gates regularly recommends books on his blog and reads about one book a week. That’s probably one of the main reasons why he is so well-informed on the issues his foundation works to address.

If you’re not sure where to start looking for a good read, or don’t know what genre to explore, there are various avenues you can try. Personally, I enjoy looking at The Washington Post’s and The New York Times’ “Best books” list at the end of every year. They even split their favorite picks into genres (romance, sci-fi, non-fiction, etc.), so you can easily find recommendations for the type(s) of books you enjoy. I’ve also browsed through the teacher summer reading list to hunt for books and have found many great books I enjoyed reading. Yet another way to find book suggestions is to ask an avid reader. I personally don’t consider myself an avid reader year-round, for the aforementioned reasons of schoolwork. However, there are many students who read a tremendous amount even during the school year. Just look for those who are always carrying a new book every week in the hallway, and ask what books they would recommend.

The next time you’re sitting staring into space and drumming your fingers on your dining room table at home, thinking about what to do, I encourage you to pick up a book. Resist the temptation to watch another episode of TV, play a video game or the likes. If you go on a road trip or on vacation this summer, don’t forget to pack a good book. You may enjoy diving back into reading more than you would expect.