Living in Cambodia, you can say for sure that there is not that many book-lovers here. Even though some might be interested in reading, a handful of them are only interested in readings that claim outright to make them better aka the self-help books and the management sort of books. Reading literature is far, far down the list of their to-do list.
It’s just a story, they would argue, but what is shocking to me is finding out that even those who are supposedly majoring in English, who are attending a Literature Study class, are also too lazy to read a story before summarizing and analyzing it. I mean…. I do know that reading might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but these people are studying English for God’s sake. I know thanks to the internet, the attention span of youths now are mostly that of a goldfish’s, but if you are tasked to analyze a story, you should have the decency to read the story before presenting it.
Therefore, here is my attempt to convince you, yes, you college students who have been told a hundred times to read but still do not read, to read literature. I have said this in real life not less than a dozen times, but I would say it again.
- Language, yo!: the lecturers at Institute of Foreign Languages when asked what the way of writing a good essay is always respond with reading. I am pretty sure you have heard at least once in your life that reading makes your English better. However, the thing is that just reading management books only gives you management vocabularies. If you only read self-help books, you will only get acquainted with self-help terminologies like self-esteem, peer pressure and whatnot. If you really want to expand your list of vocabularies, structures and whatnot, literature is the way to go because it includes words ranging from everyday life to some far-away alien colonies to made-up fairylands in the distant made-up time.
- Knowledge: now the thing is you will probably not encounter the secret to life-long happiness while reading literature because let’s be real here. However, what you would encounter is… figures. Figures who have fears, insecurities, courage, and aspirations (just like you do). Figures who risk their lives in the face of injustice. Figures who take the time to make another person feel wanted. Figures who because of an incident of their early childhood turned into a monster. It not only portrays monsters, but gives us backstories that are very essential to understand the reason behind those misgivings.
To be honest, my being is shaped by so many characters from so many books that I can’t really imagine what I would have become if it hadn’t been for them. They say that literature is a mirror to reality. I say, literature is not merely a mirror to reality, but is also a vision to what reality could be.
- Get-away: running from one deadline to another, we, as college students are always dying for a break, say to abroad, or to the beach. The thing is literature also offers an escape route from your daily hassle. It not only offers a change of scenery, but a change of life as well. Through the very best ones, you can immerse yourself in the story, putting yourself in the shoes of somebody else just for that one book. You can forget about all your troubles, your worries and your assignments and just enjoy being a hobbit for the day (don’t judge. I am still having a reading-hangover from Lord of the Rings).
So now let’s say you are convinced by these reasons to start up your literature reading journey, what then? How do you go about reading a book that looks like an ominous mountain that would never be scaled? I’d say, hard work pays off. Chances are, if you are starting out, the first couple of books are not to your taste because you don’t even know what your tastes in books are yet. I’d say go with the classics or the famous ones because they are famous for a reason. If you fall asleep while reading, don’t freak out. Just sleep, wake up, wipe that drool off and continue reading. At least that’s what I do…
The thing about reading literature on your own is that you don’t have to force yourself to read it. After discovering your taste, read that genre of books that you enjoy even though the majority might scorn you. Before you know it, you will have enjoyed all the above benefits without you even being aware of putting any effort. Now, that’s the magic of reading.