Sunday, March 30, 2008

When Did Reading Stop Being Fun?

Where has my enjoyment of free reading gone? As a college student, I am expected to spend a great deal of time reading textbooks, newspapers, journals, and (trying) to reread my own handwritten notes. Each class has a different professor with different expectations, but at least one idea is shared by all professors: that college students have too much time and would do well to fill it by reading; reading these lengthy articles discussing foreign economic policy and textbook explanations of the exploration of the Americas. Professors are always handing out readings, assigning pages, giving us stapled packets of information to pour into our brains.
So I take these piles of text, weigh down my book bag with food for my brain, and then go about the practice of absorbing this information: a tricky process to turn text into brain matter. Between classes under the midday sun, below the glare of florescent bulbs in class, and beneath the glow of a reading lamp, I read. I read, study, and absorb this material which my professors have deemed necessary for my growth and development as a student.
Why? Why do I stay up so late pouring over a textbook dissertation on the perils caused by improper subject-verb agreement? I ask myself many times: why must this weighty material be seen and remembered by my eyes?
I remember back in the days when my bedtime reading was a picture book shared with my parents. As my age progressed, so did my reading material from series chapter books to glossy teenager magazines to fluffy chick lit. What a strange turn my reading material has now taken: textbooks and lengthy, arduous articles have replaced everything else. Yes, I do mean everything. My eyes have not passed across the pages of any leisure material since my status as a student. Gone are all forms of reading for pleasure.
Recently, I found myself on Spring Break with an unexpected amount of free time. So many books had made their way onto a list of things I wanted to read where they had waited without hope of ever being picked up for the last year. Now with the time and freedom from academic reading, I let my mind loose on the list and chose several books I expected I would voraciously devour. But when I cracked the cover on the first book I had waited so very long to read, I found the appeal of free reading gone, replaced by a strange guilt. Why should I read a novel of romance any mystery? It seemed to be a fruitless activity, one which could bring no progress or development for me as a learner. It seemed to be a waste of time, time which could have been spent learning something new.
What does this mean? Does it mean that my days of reading for pleasure are over? Given the time and resources to read whatever I could possibly choose, I would choose educating myself through a laborious textbook chapter. I suppose I owe an apology to my professors, then! For I did not realize that learning through difficult readings feels much more industrious than the free readings I have done in the past. My life has changed in many ways since I became a student, so of course I find it fitting that my literature tastes have changed as well. I never knew that I could or would enjoy the readings disguised by professors as assignments!


Temporary Home

This blogsite is our temporary home while our website undergoes an extreme makeover of epic proportions (shifted septums, pacemakers, calf implants, dialysis, a fancy wig, contacts -- the works).

This was our old home, and while it is a bit dated, it's a good source of info regarding recent issues and the history of Prism Review.

Updates will follow regarding our new home. ETA summer 2009.