As a young boy I was an avid reader, often reading multiple books weekly and expanding my imagination to great heights. I would get lost in the different fiction worlds, spending hours at a time nestled in bed with nothing but a light and a piece of literature. I would be taken to all sorts of places I could never actually dream of going, and experience the things I would never be able to. However, as time as passed and that young boy grew into a young man, reading on a regular basis no longer seemed to be part of the equation. Books became a burden, and reading changed into something entirely different.
Nowadays young adults of my generation don't read like we once used to, and for that we should not be proud. Reading has shifted from classic literature to more low-brow mediums. Journalistic mediums such as "Sports Illustrated," "Vogue," and "US Weekly," which we no longer even view in the form of words on paper, are now seen on tablets, laptops and iPhones. The majority of us no longer crack open a book and read for hours on end -- we instead spend our gloriously valuable time watching Netflix. Our vocabularies, knowledge and imaginations should all be expanding through works of modern and classic novels, instead of voiding all our brain space with invaluable things we see on TV or the Internet.
Recently, I read an essay by the late Canadian Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carol Shields, in which she describes the importance of reading and accurately explains that the art of it is slowly disappearing. This article was written over a decade ago -- technology has expanded since then and novels have fallen even further into our generations' abyss.
The importance of reading cannot be stressed enough. It enhances our emotions, our intelligence and our knowledge of ourselves. And yet, as time has passed, I have found it increasingly more difficult to pick up a book and really absorb myself in it. Any friend I have a discussion with will say they are the same, that they would rather spend their time doing something deemed "more entertaining." So what happened to the entertainment in reading? It's not possible for it to have disappeared, but it has certainly been replaced.
The thought of losing this aspect of my life that I deem to be important made me slightly depressed over the winter break, and so I decided to take action and let the words of fiction wash over me like they hadn't since I was just a young boy. I felt refreshed afterwards, like I had gained wisdom merely by reading 300 pages of Chuck Palahniuk fiction. Since that point I have begun reading more intensively, and because of it, I feel a greater sense of self. Not only that, but I feel almost like a little boy again, allowing myself to become lost in various author's own created worlds.
Reading a novel allows us to inhabit the story and characters within it, and become part of it on our own. It allows us to interact in ways that staring at our computers and televisions does not, and engages our minds and souls in entirely different ways. If you are reading this and feel as strongly about the importance of reading as I do, this importance that I have just come to realize, then do me a simple favor: Find the unread book that's nearest to you that piques your interest. Pick up this work and don't set it back down until you are at least 50 or 60 pages in. Let the book take control of you entirely, and forget for an hour or two about the world around you. Hopefully you will not want to stop once you have started. You will have realized the importance of reading.