Clear Your Schedule
By improving your critical-thinking skills, reading can benefit you beyond your lit class, so make time to pick up a book.
By Madeleine Ngo, University of Florida
Literature is a beautiful subject.
From a compilation of words and sequences of sentences, readers are able to imagine an entirely new world.
Books give readers a gateway into the minds of the authors. From fiction to biographies, the amount you can learn from books stretches indefinitely. In a society where free speech is often criticized and debated, millennials should be reading now more than ever. Individuals should embrace any outlet allowing them to project their voices and thoughts.
Sure, required reading lists usually aren’t fun, and I’m not a fan of having to read specific books in set time-intervals either, but books are fascinating and contain so much knowledge. Every individual has an incredibly diverse perspective of the world, which can be shared through literature.
Books are also often representative of time periods. Looking at classic nineteenth-century feminist authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters, readers are given a snapshot of the state of affairs during the time period. Readers can also clearly see the different recurring themes throughout literature. Through Austen’s work, readers can easily identify the systematic mistreatment of women, and George Orwell’s classics, such as “1984” and “Animal Farm,” provide an example of the possible effects of corrupt, fascist government systems.
Through Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi,” I’ve learned to be open-minded and appreciate other people’s spiritual beliefs. From Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” I’ve realized the importance of youth and independence. “The Alchemist” taught me to never undermine my dreams and aspirations.
All of these books have impacted my life in some form, whether it has been through the way I think or act. I could not imagine the person I would be today without books. Because of books and other forms of literature, I see the world differently. Books force readers to think critically and challenge their perspectives.
Above all else, literature instills curiosity in readers, which in itself is an incredible characteristic. Being curious about the world allows you to explore more and actively seek answers. As a society, people should be asking questions and sharing their opinions and beliefs. Various forms of writing, possibly through the classic novel or even modern-day blog posts, allow authors to embrace their voices and contribute their diversity of thought.
One of my favorite autobiographies is Mindy Kaling’s “Why Not Me?” (if you haven’t seen her Harvard Law School address, watch her speech and enlighten yourself). I found comfort in Kaling’s words because her story is so much like mine.
As a daughter of two immigrants, Kaling detailed her seemingly limited opportunities and unattainable aspirations. I could finally relate to a Hollywood actress and understand her exact thoughts. Kaling helped me embrace my life and be grateful for every opportunity I’m given. Her comedic writing also taught me not to take anything too seriously, even in times of failure and adversity.
Books essentially reflect the diversity of our world. Literature is subjective, and unlike many other fields, there is no right answer. Readings are open to discussion and interpretation. Differing answers aren’t discouraged, but are actually praised in the classroom.
Then again, you are a college student, and finding time to read seems nearly impossible, but small steps, like simply surrounding yourself with books, can help you find more motivation to read. If your books are tucked underneath your bed or in some crusty cardboard box never seeing the light of day, chances are you won’t be reading them.
I’m not trying to bash eBooks, because reading in any form is great, but having a physical copy allows you to read more often because it’s more visible and easily accessible. Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of “Black Mirror,” but I’ve learned to appreciate the physicality of the book and its lack of distractions.
So, now you have books, but the difficult part is actually dedicating time to read. Devote twenty or thirty minutes a day to read anything other than a textbook. Finding your personal favorite time to read is also incredibly helpful. If you’re a morning person, try to fit reading early in the day, or read right before bed if you’re most relaxed during the nighttime.
Most importantly, find something interesting. If you’re not an “Inferno” type of person, you probably shouldn’t subject yourself to Dante. If you’re just not a huge fan of novels, try keeping up with online and print news outlets. Most publications have numerous student discounts, making print subscriptions relatively inexpensive. Sites like “The Atlantic” and “The New Yorker” often cover interesting stories and current politics.
Most of the time, media outlets also have a section dedicated to creative writing and short stories. If you’re more inclined to nonfiction, fact-based pieces, the “New York Times” has an incredible opinions section, keeping you constantly considering various perspectives and beliefs.
Whatever form of writing or literature you prefer, it is essential to actively incorporate reading into your everyday life. A life without reflection and a diverse array of thought is simply unfulfilling. Literature allows readers to expand their thoughts and formulate subjective interpretations.
By picking up an autobiography, you can learn so much from individuals. Fiction novels allow readers and authors alike to explore entirely different worlds, where there is no need to confine one’s thoughts. There are no rules or regulations in a made-up fantasy world. Even in a more condensed form, like newspaper or magazine articles, there is so much to learn.
As a college student, finding extra time is difficult. Work, school and social obligations can really take a toll on your energy, but by finding an extra twenty minutes in your day to pick up a new book or subscribe to a magazine, you could expand your thoughts and think more critically.