Once Upon A Time, Reading Was For Pleasure and Imaginations Soared

I remember when reading was for pleasure and when I could just escape from the world, completely immersing myself in a book. But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Life gets to you. What I mean by that is that people get busy. It’s difficult to find time to sit down and enjoy a piece of literature because there is so much going on already. Work, school, family, personal relationships and extracurriculars. The older I’ve become, the harder it has become to find some time to enjoy a book. Every time I sit down, something else pops up to attend to. I wouldn’t consider life to be the true barrier between reading for pleasure though. I blame the evolution of technology and the internet. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate society’s technological progressions and I’m an avid user of it all. But it has definitely distanced people from the true art of enjoying a book.

The internet has forever changed the way people look at reading. That’s because people don’t actually “read” anymore. They scan things on a webpage for the general idea. They visit websites like the Huffington Post whose job it is to give you the lowdown of a plethora of different sources for one news story.  That’s just the way media has transformed. I’m a huge advocate of the Huffington Post (I read it virtually everyday) and websites that condense information that make it easier for someone to process. Because it’s hard to sit down and read a long article. I have a great desk job with plenty of time to read news, but that’s just not efficient anymore. The faster you get to the point, the better. The internet has made me that way. I blame it.

Now, it’s easy to understand the challenges of sitting down to read a book. It may be frustrating to sit through an entire book for a story. We expect to be entertained quickly and with little effort. Over time, having such an attitude is what keeps us away from giving a book our undivided attention. But we need to give a book a chance. If it’s a physical book, even better. For me, a book will never be replaced by an E-Reader, such as a Kindle. Maybe that’s why I’ve been hesitant to purchase one. Because I feel like I would betray the traditional book. The physical touch of a book is unlike any other. It is such a comfort for me to have the physical material in front of me, where I can turn a page with my own hands and see my progress. Not with a tablet pen or my finger. With my actual hand. I’m sure you’ve had that feeling of accomplishment when you see a bookmark halfway through a book that you’re reading. You’ve read half of a book! Congratulations! We should be grateful that we can even read in the first place. Not everyone has the opportunity to learn to read around the world. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment when I can physically see my progress in a big book that seems never ending, or a daunting textbook.

People have lost their imaginations as well. We don’t have to think of images to accompany words anymore. The images are already there. Our society has become obsessed with the visual. We barely have to think because it has already been provided for us. Don’t you remember when you had to think of the images to a chapter book? When you had no idea what a character looked like so you had the ability of just making it up? I used to visualize everything in my head when reading a book. So much to the point that I would go back to pages already read and look for the picture that never existed in the first place.

It’s not just a coincidence that we remember the first book we ever read or books that we haven’t read in years. Those are the books that first got to us, that first opened up the door to wildly imagine what words on a page actually meant. They were the books that gave us a feeling of escape into another world. It is through books that we learn to relate to characters and that we can do more with our lives. Through books we discover that we too can be like the characters we admire and that our lives are so very similar to those of a story (if it’s non-fiction of course). When we read a book, we can create a million thoughts. When we read an article, basically a summary of many sources, the thoughts are already there. Someone has already done the work for us and our imagination is quickly put to a stop.

So when I hear of how the physical book will be obsolete in the near future, I shudder. It pains me. I am all for improvements to the book into digital technology that’s more accessible to the masses, but we should never do away with its physical version. That would be like us doing away with a piece of history.  The book should be here to stay forever, and we could all benefit from a bit of pleasure reading. So the next time you find yourself bored, even if it’s for half an hour, pick up a book. Do yourself a favor. Learn some vocabulary and engage your imagination. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean your imagination has run off on you.

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