The World in Paperback Form


Courtesy of Angeline Tan

Angeline Tan, Staff Reporter

Picture this: it is late in the afternoon, about 2:30 to be precise. You check your phone constantly in school as you count down the minutes to which you will finally be free. Your head goes from the clock above the teacher’s head back down to your phone. Clock. Phone. Clock. Phone. In the back of your mind, just as your neck begins to strain from how much you have been checking the time, your teacher instructs the class to open your novels from where you last left off. An audible series of groans are heard from the class as students shuffle to grab their books out of their backpacks, a cacophony of fastening zippers and featherweight pages filling the classroom. The more you drown out the existence of the tiny novel in your hands, the more your mind gets plagued with all sorts of different thoughts; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Little did you know, however, that an escape from the chaos that your mind pursued was held firmly in your grasp. A world of the unknown, jam packed inside a tiny little novel with 450 pages. 

A question often arises that even the most academically gifted students find questionable: do we even need to read books? Many would say it is simply busy work, or even that it is just a way for teachers to give students something to do when their lesson plans fall short. The question is rather subjective, however, as although many students would say they enjoyed a book despite never picking it up, there are many cases in which a story actively captivates the mind of the reader without them realizing it. When we craft scenarios in our head or small thoughts that shape the way we think, we utilize various details from the stories we read to craft our own narratives. Whether it be a scene where your crush confesses their love to you, or even a scene where you perform for the talent show and amaze and bedazzle everyone with your smooth moves and your captivating voice. All these factors are taken by the media we consume and the stories we read in our everyday lives. Reading is a learning tool that we tend to take for granted, as it holds the power to help us learn and shape the world that we know. Whether it be a tweet in a Twitter thread or a long, drawn out Declaration of Independence from history class, our minds are constantly taking in the information we see and shaping it to fit our view of the world as a whole. 

What does reading bring us exactly? What benefits does it have in shaping the way we view the world? Why are we forced to read novels and articles from old-fashioned authors like Shakespeare or Mark Twain? Teacher Librarian Ms. Pope expresses her views on how libraries and books hold, “…the key(s) for students to travel to other countries, experience the lives of other people…and be mesmerized by the freakish and the macabre.” Ms. Pope is well-known for her story time hours which she shares with students and the teachers who request her presence, offering a way for students to drown out the difficulties faced in distance learning through the stories she chooses to tell. She is also an advocate for giving students an environment to be able to read more, expressing her interests in forming a book club for those who want to share their love for reading amongst one another.  

Reading can not only provide an escape to a new world beyond our own but can also allow your mind to be put at ease, as the world around you becomes almost smaller in comparison. Senior Simone Santos voices how reading allows her to “…rest from my own thoughts or from everyday tasks that I have to do…” expressing how reading offers her a break from engaging in the chaos that is our world. Whether it be elongated political debates or articles about the latest celebrity drama, without reading we would not be able to distract ourselves from the issues that are constantly anew. Reading can provide an outlet for those who are simply looking to shut their brains off for the night and distance themselves from the world around them. 

You may be thinking to yourself: what is in it for me in the end? You may have read books all throughout your life to the point where it becomes almost daunting each time you visit the school library to pick up another. Although you may not see their value at first glance, books have become a gateway to new ideas and mindsets far beyond what we consume in our everyday lives. Without books to teach us morals about our lives and the world around us, we would be left to fend for ourselves through the mistakes we could have prevented. David M. Wright of the Memoria Press states how reading helps us “…learn about our creative and moral faculties, our conscience, and most importantly, our soul.”  

With that in mind, next time you open up a copy of a Shakespearean script, be sure to immerse yourself in the endless paragraphs of complicated Old English.