Read it or weep


I love Netflix, you love Netflix, everyone loves Netflix! Or Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or even just DVDs or cable. When you don’t have homework (and, honestly, when you do) vegging out for an episode or two of your favorite show seems to be a pretty inescapable fate.

Before television shows and movies conveniently existed in our homes and on our computers, people could still fill their time with fabricated stories and realities.

Only then, they usually came in the form of books.

Now, as college students, we read all the time, or at least, we’re supposed to, in the form of textbooks and novels for class. But rarely do I see anyone curling up with a book because they want to.

While college students are crunched for time and reading always seems like a task, versus an escape, finding a book that you can connect to can bring infinitely more rewards than mindlessly watching a 22-minute sitcom.

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And if you have time for Netflix, you have time for a book. 

Hopefully everyone at this university has read a novel that they can claim as a favorite or has at least experienced some sort of book that they’ve enjoyed.

By skimping on reading, we do ourselves a disservice instead of working toward becoming more well-rounded learners.

This pastime seems to be a dwindling activity with a slew of benefits that we’re missing out on. And if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy reading, I firmly believe that you haven’t tried hard enough to find a book that satisfies your literary needs.

Leisurely reading is crucial for college students, especially because many of us come into college unprepared according to some ACT scores. About 66 percent of students who took the ACT were not college-ready in reading, and the benchmark for reading readiness has dropped 8 percent since 2010. 

While we’re already in college and past the times of the ACT, we still can, and should, take the time to brush up on our reading skills.

This factors in vocabulary and reading comprehension. Both are bettered by active leisurely reading. The more you read, the more complex words that you will come into contact with, assuming you’re reading around or above your comprehension level.

Depending on the texts, this will assist with your comprehension of other pieces of work as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re attempting new textbooks or just sitting in a room full of smarties: Reading prepares you for both situations through increased language understanding.

This preparedness also applies to different situations as well.

When we read works of fiction and non-fiction, we come into contact with circumstances and stories that we would not otherwise be in tune with. Similar to movies, but books offer a unique, complex understanding of a character, which is sometimes hard to depict in a television show.

Only in books can you get a sense of every aspect of a character’s life.

You’re connected to characters, so you feel as if you understand the life that is depicted in the pages. While you can’t walk a mile in someone’s shoes, you can read a couple hundred pages of their mind.

Plus, recent studies have found that reading can transport the reader into the body of the protagonist — not literally, but through biological sensations. Reading allows for actual changes to brain structure and activity.

There are other benefits to reading as well. For instance, the stress that is put on us students while reading a textbook or a novel for an English class is pretty much absent while reading a book where your only motivation to get through it is enjoyment. Instead, reading is a well-known stress-reliever.

If those reasons aren’t enough, know that reading provides people with a better memory, stronger critical thinking skills, improved focus, concentration and better writing skills.

All of these benefits of reading are applicable to students of every major. We go to college to learn. Reading helps us learn. It’s that simple.

So let’s work on understanding the worlds that are right under our noses by having our noses in books. Next time Netflix asks you if you’re still watching, say no and open a new book instead. It’s a source of entertainment that will never lose its value, and it’s ready for us to join in.

Emma is a sophomore in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].