Sunday, June 10, 2012

How College Ruined My Ability to Read

For the first nineteen years of my life, I read and enjoyed reading.
Now that I have entered college, however, that enjoyment has ended.
College has ruined the way I read.

Let me explain:
When one is taking five three-hour classes, it is next to impossible to have any reading time between class, homework, and work.  It is extremely difficult to read continually, because the time allotted for reading is often hurried and short.  One cannot remember enough of the previously read pages to continue reading.  This is because there have been a million other things passing in and out of one's head since the last time the book was picked up.

 I'm not just talking about reading for enjoyment.  One would think that textbooks are there to be read, but in my limited experience, this is sometimes hardly necessary at all.  I ask you, why have the textbooks, if one does not have to read them?
If one does read the readings for class, it is often in a hurried and harried manner, and leads to the necessity of taking notes.
This lead me to my next grievance.

Taking notes is a recent problem I have developed.  I have borrowed several history books from the university library to prepare for the fall semester.  In order to remember everything, it has been suggested to me that I should take notes as I read.

This, my friends, is the most devastating problem of what college has done to me.

I can no longer just read a book.  No.  I must now learn something from it.  Gone are the days of  passive reading, of reading for no purpose at all.  Gone are the days of happily and foolishly reading simply for its own sake.  Gone are the days of reading, "Little House on the Prairie" series simply "for fun.   Now I must figure out the characters' motives, the author's thesis, and why in the world Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in the first place.

I must (sob!) actively read.

This summer, I have joined a study group for "The Fellowship of the Ring," the first book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  There too are we encouraged to think outside the box, to understand in some small part what the author might be conveying to us, and to (gasp!) take notes.

Most intolerable.

But lest my friends of the Fellowship think I do not like them or the purpose of our study, let me say this:

I would not have it any other way. 
I love diving deeper into books.  I can no longer just read them.  I want to understand why characters act the way they do, what the setting of the story is, and what the author is trying to tell us.  For if one person thought it was worthwhile to write an entire book on a single subject, it is worthwhile for us readers to delve a bit deeper into it.
To actively read is to take part in any book.
This is one of the great lessons that college has taught me.  Reading for class does not always have to be a drag, but neither does the book I read last week need to be forgotten.
Read to learn.

"I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once."  ~C.S. Lewis

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