I Dare You to Read This

Aahhh, winter break: a time to gather with family, exchange tokens of love and affection (or the gift card you think your second-cousin might be least likely to trade for cash at the CoinStar machine), stay up late and sleep in! Luckily, I did all of those things during our recent respite, but also something else that makes me giddy. I got to read!

Now, I know, some of you might think I’m a nerd because I like to read. Or you might believe I do it because it’s my job. But honestly I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember mainly because I like to escape. While growing up, losing myself in a book was the easiest way I knew to escape my siblings’ quarrels, my parents’ woes and the general angst that accompanies adolescence. Today, I read to forget about the bills that need to be paid or the stress at work (stress,  you may ask? Only in a theoretical sense, of course. I could never be stressed here!).

Teachers often talk about how reading expands your mind, exercises your brain and exposes you to new points of view. I believe all of that is true. Reading improves your vocabulary, makes you a better writer, and allows you to experience things vicariously that you could not in real life (that killer avalanche on Everest? the boy wizard’s battle against the evil bad guy? the sappy romance of a teenager with cancer? been there, done that, from the safety of my couch) But I also feel that reading is just fun — as much fun as going to a movie or whiling the hours away playing Trivia Crack.

Groucho Marx (Google him) once said “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.” (Wisely he added, “Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”) Too many students here at HHS tell me they don’t like to read or, more simply, they just don’t read. It breaks my heart. They’re missing out on so much . . .  academically, emotionally, spiritually. I’m serious! Not reading is as detrimental to your being as staying home alone every Friday night watching Wheel of Fortune, smashing your fingers in the car door or eating too many Big Macs.

Sure, it takes a little work (although in my opinion not as much as figuring out how to maneuver the WiiFit obstacle course so you don’t repeatedly get knocked in the head). And yes, even I have times when I’d rather watch Tosh.0 or countless repeats of The Big Bang Theory. But the benefits of reading are worth it. New experiences, good stories, a chance to escape whatever ails you in real life. It doesn’t matter if you choose War and Peace (again, Google it) or Entertainment Weekly online, if you settle down with a thick hardcover or a hundred-page paperback, just read. Vow to read one online article a day, or one book a month. Read in directed study or after you snarf down lunch or while you’re waiting for practice. Read!

If you don’t, you’ll make this baby panda cry.

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