Forget about set books and assignments. Reading is something more than what you came across in school.
Back when I was in high school, I noticed how diverse the people in my class were. In terms of characters and interests, sometimes I felt that the only thing we had in common was our age. Maybe I wasn’t far from being mistaken.
Attitudes to reading were just as varied. Some hated it, others absolutely loved it. I was the guy who read a lot (I mean, look at my glasses), yet rarely touched a set book. The school library wasn’t attractive at all. Why? Well, there were different books to be read: things that excited me, something that I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on! My favorite authors and titles waited for me.
I made the decision to do what I love instead what I’m told to. Good for me.
Unfortunately, those who only stuck to set books may have developed a subconscious adversity toward reading. In high school (and at university, and at work, and at whatever you do) finding time to read isn’t that easy. That’s no surprise.
When what you’re told to read bores you, how can you be motivated to do it? How can you find time to sit back if you simply don’t feel like reading your set books. Reaching for a book becomes more and more difficult, until you generally DON’T LIKE reading.
And it’s a pity, because you can find more than a few benefits of reading. Magazines, paperbacks, ebooks – for Generation Z, there’s a lot to choose from. You don’t have to go to library, just grab your smartphone.
Wait, why should you care about reading?
You learn to focus
Why that should matter to you? And how can reading improve that?
Letter after letter, word after word, sentence after sentence…
In your head, there’s probably millions of thoughts at once. What you should have said or done, what you’ll eat for dinner, where you’ll go on holidays next year. These random ideas spark up in your head, shortening your attention span to but a few seconds.
Sure, this is a great trait when you go on multitasking, which has become the Gen Z work ethic, but it also fills your head with garbage.
Instead, try to s l o w d o w n. If you’re doing something, then do it, and nothing else. Cherish the moment as if it was never to come back. Guess what – it won’t.
Live in the present and absorb each word, forgetting about the trivialities of everyday life.
You know more
That one’s kinda obvious, isn’t it? You don’t know a world without smartphones, but there’s more to know than what you can Google.
Set books give you an idea of what somebody wants you to know. Yet, the range of books to choose from is so vast, that you can find exactly what you’re interested in on your own.
Self-help, philosophy, or history? Whatever you want to learn, you can!
No deadlines, no labels, and no strings attached.
Fancy taking up an unorthodox hobby? There’s hundreds of books written precisely on that topic. You’ve always wondered what were the 13 virtues of Benjamin Franklin? That guy wrote a full-blown biography on it. Are you fascinated by the world of romance, or distant adventure? Maybe you don’t know how to poo on a date (yes, that one exists too)? No problem, books got you covered.
Pick a topic, read about it, know more.
You can see with other people’s eyes
I conceive this as one of the key elements behind fiction novels. A good fiction book doesn’t only tell you a story, it tells you an idea.
Reading, you see the main protagonist’s point of view. The main character has their own beliefs and experiences that shaped them. Although you may not agree with what they say, you can see why they do it.
To my mind, such way of thinking is necessary for Gen Zers if we want to create a community based on freedom of speech and mutual respect. Ask questions, improve your thinking, become curious – ask why. As the digital natives, known for our love for memes and fast Wi-Fi, reading more is the next step.
On social media platforms, you’ve met people who were homophobic, racist, or mysoginists. Hateful ideologies hurt, but don’t fight fire with fire. Fight fire with love.
Try to understand why the person you meet is so full of hate. Maybe they’re under pressure of their peers, family, or a certain ideology (be it political or religious) they follow? Maybe some past experience or trauma made them act this way?
Or maybe they just don’t know. No one chooses to be ignorant, so let you be their teacher.
Read, try to see with other people’s eyes, understand them, and share love.
First, however, you should learn to love yourself. But that’s a different cup of tea.
You learn to speak better
The more you read, the better you can formulate your opinions. This benefit of reading is important not only to future politicians and comedians. To improve our world, we need your original ideas.
As you may have noticed, in books there’s a lot of words. As you read, you’ll come across various grammatical structures and lots of vocab. Together, they will enrich your linguistic storage, filling it with such peculiarities as imperturbability or kerfuffle.
When I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, a beautiful novel telling the tale of Mr Stevens, a British butler, I began to pay more attention to the sentences I formulate. To give you an idea of Ishiguro’s awe-inspiring writing style, compare a regular:
While going downstairs…
… with the novelist’s sexy:
Fewer words, and yet they have more class. Seeing so many beautiful sentences just makes you want to use them. Read, so that you can express your own ideas – either verbally, or as a tweet.
Some time ago, I attended a meeting with a literature professor, a lecturer and a bookworm. We talked about Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four dystopia, as well as discussed some trends among modern authors.
At that time, I was eighteen and looking for guidance. Be it spiritual aid, a political debate, or business mentoring – I was searching for my path (as we all are, Generation Z’s curse).
Before saying my good-byes, I asked her:
“If you were to give one piece of advice to a young person, a Gen Zer, what would it be?”
She looked up, thinking. I saw her brain was trying to formulate the most elaborate encouragement. All the knowledge she had from all the books she had read was now boiling inside her head. A few seconds passed, and she looked at me, smiling.