Editorial: Reading outside of the classroom

Reading Time: 3 minutes

File Photo / Photo by Tanzeel Sayani

As an english major, I feel lucky that the majority of my readings for school are novels, short stories and poetry instead of textbooks and other similar materials.

Over the past three years I’ve been able to read some really great novels and pieces of literature in school, such as Bronte’s Jane Eyre and and Dickens’ Hard Times.

However, for me, reading outside of school is when I’m fully able to appreciate the literature I read.

As a student, it’s hard to find the time to lose yourself in a good book. It’s even easier to get caught up always reading textbooks for school. Setting aside time to do extra reading for pleasure can seem impossible, especially when keeping up with readings for school can feel daunting on its own.

During the summer months, and during breaks, it can be difficult to choose to read a book in the little downtime we’re given over watching Netflix and movies.

However, I have found that making the time—even if that means a small amount of time each week—to read a book of your choice can allow yourself to appreciate reading and literature instead of resenting the countless number of hours spent reading for school.

In contrast to reading for school, when I’m reading for leisure I find that I am in a completely different headspace. You can allow yourself to be mindless while following an interesting plot, instead of focusing on where to bookmark the best quotes.

Books have taught me and opened up my mind to so many things that school can’t teach. Some of my favourite novels and authors directly influenced me to pursue a career as a writer.

When reading for school, I find I’m able to focus less on what the words mean to me personally when I’m constantly searching for themes and metaphors and symbols which are then usually used within assignments and essays.

As a result, when reading for school, there’s often a feeling of pressure behind the reading.

I read my absolute favourite novel, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, back in high school for an assignment. I thought the novel was wonderful after the first time I read it; however, when I read the book once again almost a year later on my own time I realized there was so much more to the novel than I had initially absorbed.

Reading it without the pressure of a school assignment allowed me to understand the plot better and appreciate everything the book gives to those who read it. Now, the book contains some of my all-time favourite quotes and is definitely the one novel I continuously pick up to read almost every year—and each time I read it again, I learn something new.

Of course, reading for school can give you the essential skills and knowledge that is necessary to understanding complex books — especially if you’re like me and love classic literature.

But there are definitely books that you can read that might be easier to follow, giving you a change of pace from the more difficult readings you might get in class.

Books have taught me and opened up my mind to so many things that school can’t teach. Some of my favourite novels and authors directly influenced me to pursue a career as a writer.

And although it can be difficult, I definitely see the real value in finding time to read outside of school. 

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