Read with me

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Reading is my job.

Between time spent working for the Journal and finishing my English degree, I spend over 40 hours per week looking at some sort of text.

It made for a struggle when I, someone who developed eyesight problems because I ignored my mother’s pleas to “get my nose out of that book,” was forced to stop reading for fun. In a flurry of textbooks and news articles, I became a book curmudgeon — someone who forgets the joy of reading. Eventually, analyzing short story fiction for class and being surrounded by self-proclaimed literati got to me. I got curious. I picked up a book again.

I credit Kingston’s used bookstores for fully reawakening my joy. These are places where I would spend time sifting through old modern literature volumes.

It was like treasure hunting. If I was going to keep buying pretty books, why not start reading more of them? So I began spending my summer evenings reading novels and needlessly alphabetizing my book collection, an old pursuit I thought I had forgotten.

It was refreshing.

Lost love for reading doesn’t just apply to overtired university students. A Sept. 24 article in the Washington Post reported a four-decade low in high school students’ SAT reading scores.

Is this indicative of a future where students refuse to read anything but their textbooks? Will they, like me, forget what it’s like to truly sympathize with a character? Will they forget what it’s like to look up from a novel only to realize that the sun has disappeared from the sky?

While students are barraged by group work and essay deadlines, it’s easy to forget about what words can really do for us. It’s not just about escape — it’s about having a place where learning isn’t limited to the lecture hall.

Reading shouldn’t be a chore or a job. It has its utilitarian purposes, like teaching a student the anatomy of a beetle or reiterating the news from Syria, but I think it’s more organic than that.

It’s separated us from animals — this ability to learn by looking at seemingly unremarkable symbols. It’s the fact that we have the means to communicate complex and beautiful ideas to each other, simply through a pen and paper. To me, that’s kind of profound. Let’s treat it as such.

Janina is the Postscript Editor at the Journal.

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