Reading Rights

Magdalena Waz

Read a book this summer. This may seem like a pretty obvious statement coming from me, or at the very least, it has been on my mind as I’ve written each of these columns. But I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on things that are more ethereal – in other words, things that don’t really seem to matter.
Once you’ve finished reading the new edition of Tropos, pick up any book – preferably a good one, but I don’t care if you end up reading the Twilight series. Just read something.
Actually, two summers ago I read most of the Twilight books on the train. I borrowed them from my friend’s ten-year-old cousin, took the dust jackets off, and stuffed the large yet unbelievably light volumes into my bag.
It was great reading, but I spent a lot of time contorting myself into positions in uncomfortable red and beige seats on the orange line that would make it difficult for anyone sitting next to me to even identify the typeface.
The moral of the story should probably be to not be ashamed of the things you read, especially if it makes your back hurt. But more important for my purposes is that I remember reading the Twilight series not because it is good, but because I remember the discomfort and the odd sort of pleasure of reading something I probably shouldn’t have.
I’m not suggesting that you do this, especially if you already have a book list for the summer. If you don’t have a book list, make a book list. Think of it like you would think of a Netflix queue.
It’s a sort of ultimate wish list for when you have unlimited time. You will be a little bit closer to having unlimited time in the summer – notice how I’m skirting the issue of you perhaps not wanting to read after a grueling nine months of homework.
I’ve heard excuses from people – who are older than me – that amount to something that sounds like, “I’ve lived for far too long to bother with things I don’t like doing. If I don’t like a book, I won’t read it. And if I don’t want to read, I won’t do it.”
We should not share this sentiment because we are too young to assume that we know ourselves well enough to know what we will like before giving it a shot. I actually do this often with music and consequently end up listening to bands I end up loving months after I’ve got them on my iPod.
I know this is stupid. It’s difficult to write these things without sounding like a concerned parent.
I don’t want to make you hate me because all I seem to be doing is nagging. I’ve seen firsthand what happened to someone who kept being told to read George Orwell’s “1984” – he didn’t read it.
There’s no argument in trying to convince people that they must read for something akin to intellectual development or the ability to say clever things at cocktail parties – during which they’ll also be able to discuss investments.
But it is impossible to describe the feeling of not feeling your body – even when it is doing everything it can to hide that embarrassing book – when you’re reading. It is impossible to describe the joy felt at seeing the thoughts of another person – things that are supposed to be transient for the most part – preserved on a page.