Lily Sieradzki | Media Junkie
A case for books (a bookcase)
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 02:10
Yesterday I had one of those screen days. I woke up, checked my texts and email, went to class, checked my Instagram, got home and got on Facebook, went to Tisch and read online PDFs for three hours with Spotify playing. And then, to end my day, I watched an episode of “The Wire” before bed. Wow, did my eyes hurt.
Days like this are inevitable. We are all so tied to our devices and our Internet, making our social media available and increasingly addictive. I’m admittedly at that point where I can’t go more than a few hours without checking my phone. The media I consume the most, outside of readings for my classes, is bite-sized: a Tweet, a photo, a headline, an advertisement.
But you know what I miss? Reading books — for fun. I do it as much as possible but definitely not enough.
Way, way back in the ancient days of my childhood, in the good old 90s, I literally almost never looked at a screen except for my allotted episode of Arthur every day. I didn’t have a phone or a computer or play any video games — instead, I read just about everything I could get my hands on.
I was probably more bookish than a lot of other kids my age. Okay, I read pretty much every single book in the children’s section of my local library. Yes, I was one of those kids who walked around while reading. My literature of choice? Fantasy of course. Some favorites were Harry Potter (DUH), the Redwall series, the Eragon series and everything by Eva Ibbotson.
While my taste in books has changed since then, I still try to read for pleasure. I’ve found, though, that it’s pretty much incompatible with the college lifestyle. When you have so much required reading to do, why read on the side? And why spend your free time reading, when that’s essentially the same as doing homework?
Even as an English major where I am often assigned novels, being required to read certain numbers of pages within strict time limits doesn’t feel the same as leisurely picking up my book whenever I feel like it. Especially when I know I’m going to have to write a paper on it later, nitpicking through all the important themes and analyzing underlying messages about race and gender, etc. Even though I’ve read incredibly interesting literature that I never would have read otherwise, it is still work.
So I’m here today to tell you all to read for yourselves, what you want, when you want to, if you want to. It’s difficult to take the time, but worth it. Why? Well for me, literature is one of the most profound forms of media out there. Reading a good book makes you think and reflect on yourself and society, as well as making you laugh, cry, get confused or all of the above.
It’s long term — you become invested in the characters as they change and develop and feel like you really know them. You become fully part of this fabricated world imagined just for you and gain the freedom to dream and elaborate within that. You can consume literature that is beautiful, that you connect with on some different, deep level than just the rote intellectual questioning that is a part of a liberal arts education. Reading for pleasure is an escape, a refreshing change of pace from our hyper busy and screen-centered lives.
I’ll wrap up my preaching now, but for those who don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions. “The View from Saturday” by E.L. Konigsburg is a young adult novel, but one of my all-time favorites. “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery and “Suite Française” by Irene Nemirovsky are both beautifully written, touching portrayal of many separate lives intersecting. And then, of course, there’s always “Twilight.”
Lily Sieradzki is a junior majoring in English. She can be reached at Lily.Sieradzki@tufts.edu.