Students should book it to the library 

By Tyler Panlilio , Columnist

There’s nothing quite like staying in on a rainy day with some coffee and a good book or two.

For students here at the University, however, free time is a rarity. It’s arguably harder than ever to find the time to dive into literature with schoolwork piling on top of internships, work and having a social life. So, along with finishing that one TV series and learning how to quilt, reading is put on the back-burner.

For the longest time, that’s how I handled my big list of books to read; literature wasn’t even on the third page of the list of priorities I had. The list grew longer, school became tougher and eventually I stopped reading altogether.

It wasn’t until this past winter break when reading became my number one priority again.

There’s this stigma that books, or even literature in general, are only associated with academics. Reading novels has always been a staple in English classes, especially during high school. Most books seemed dull and nearly impossible to understand, despite being literary classics.

But there had to be at least one novel that struck a chord and resonated with your adolescent self. A call to read beyond the scope of academia — to read because it was actually interesting.

People tend to forget that for the few novels they actually enjoyed reading throughout their academic career, there exist whole genres that fall within them.

One genre shouldn’t trump another, however. There’s nothing wrong with preferring fantasy or science fiction over historical narratives or nonfiction. It’s more so what unites all genres together that is more important: literature offers a break from reality.

Reading, for a lot of people, is a form of escapism from their daily lives. Curling up to a good book before calling it a day happens more than you think. It’s a form of stress relief for some and a simple pleasure for others. And it may even help you empathize a bit better.

A 2009 study by Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University, concluded that engaging with narrative fiction may improve or maintain social skills, especially skills of empathy and social understanding.

I’m not trying to put those who read on a pedestal. People shouldn’t expect to be the next great philosophical thinker by reading Dickens and Twain, nor should they brag to their friends about how versed they are in 19th century lingo. Reading a bunch of novels doesn’t give you the keys to success.

But literature offers something that many other conventional forms of entertainment lack: a sense of meaning.

During my last year of high school, my English teacher presented a quote to the class on the first day back from summer vacation. C.S. Lewis, known for his fictional work “The Chronicles of Narnia” among others, explained the importance of literature:

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”

Literature forces us to be in someone else’s shoes. It shows us the highs and lows of mankind, ultimately aiming to tell us something by each book’s end. Whether it’s through joy and wonder or suffering and hopelessness, the stories that literature provides are something that makes life more meaningful.
And it may seem trivial to pick up a novel when midterms are coming up, among other things. But if some students can find the time to party on weekdays, then maybe you can find the time to pick up that book you’ve always wanted to read.

Tyler is a freshman in Media. 

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