Drop everything and read.

It should be a hobby, not just homework.

Riley Potter, Staff Writer

As an overcommitted Westmont student, I am sure your schedule allows time for hours upon hours of reading for pleasure. HA, funny right? All jokes aside, I think every person might feel a little bit more fulfilled if they could get their hands on a self-selected book at least once a week. Not buying it? Let me convince you!
Take yourself back to the good-ole days of elementary school. You’re all lined up with your class and you make your way to the library. Once there, you excitedly browse the shelves, searching for the perfect book — or the one with the brightest cover or the weirdest title. Before reading became an assigned task and books were seen as punishment, most of us truly loved to read. There was something wonderful about curling up with a book and slipping into another world. The stress of school and our lives would fade away as we traveled to faraway lands in the Magic Tree House or laughed at the hilarious mishaps of Junie B. Jones and Amelia Bedelia. Simply put, reading was a fun adventure and served as an escape.

Unfortunately, that once-powerful love of reading was squashed at some point in our educational careers. Reading became — and perhaps still is — synonymous with homework, a label that sucked the joy out of a previously beloved activity. Books were ruined for countless tweens and teens as they overanalyzed and picked the narratives apart in essay after essay. I have always loved reading, but even I have had a feeling of dread when I saw that another book had been assigned.

Now, we are constantly flooded by lists upon lists of books that we “have to read.” Much can, and should, be gained from educational texts on topics such as anti-racism, spirituality and our faith, but that is not what I am urging you to take up here. While informative reading is important, there is beauty in selecting a book simply because you want to. Maybe it is an informational book, but the wonderful thing is that it doesn’t have to be. You could choose an unlikely romance set in a small fishing town, or a gruesome tale of the Holocaust, an unusual take on the life of an immigrant, or a story of a boy and his dogs. You could read about dragons or wizards, crockpots and family recipes, or poems of serene musings on the divine and God’s creation. The possibilities are literally endless. Read a book that reminds you of home and of your childhood or one that expands your horizons, taking you to another time, another place, and into another understanding of how the world works.
Let’s try and rediscover the joy we once found in this simple activity. Spread out a blanket on Kerrwood Lawn, steal your friend’s hammock, or tan at the beach and try reading just for the heck of it. Do it for your 10-year-old self — the little girl or boy who had big dreams and wasn’t burnt out or cynical, who found the beauty in all the little things.

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Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.

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