Reading. Perhaps one of the oldest practices known to mankind, it had been present when the Egyptian constructed their iconic pyramids in the form of the comprehension of hieroglyphics on papyrus to when the Declaration of Independence was engrossed onto parchment in 1776 to this very moment when you are currently reading this article off a mobile device.
As a year 9 student, my reading habits in my daily routine have became minimal due to increasing workload and my new founded tendency to whip out my phone, which always seemed to follow me wherever I went, at any free moments presented to me.
Before entering high school, my love for reading was something everyone around me would easily notice, partly because a book, instead of a phone, would be somewhere close for most of the time. I’d barely experienced tough workload and stressful situation which meant that my spare time at home was abundant and finding time to read was an easy task.
When I entered high school, my workload had at least tripled and spare time became scarce. With this new environment, the year 7 me found spending and investing more time in not just completing assignments but to a standard in which it would look good when compared to the others. My reading habits came to a quick halt and my visits to the local library became extremely rare.
In year 8, I received my first mobile phone which did nothing to improve my reading habits. Despite the fact that my leisure time was decreasing, any thing that was left would now go straight to whipping out my device instead of reading a novel or even a comic book. Reading became more and more foreign to me and something that used to be a habit had now became a rare occasion.
In year 9, however, with my transition to a school which required me to take a longer commute, I found myself starting to make an effort towards reading more books especially during the long commutes after continuous remarks about my declining reading habits and the realisation of how far I’d distanced from reading.
Reading is undoubtedly one of humanities’ most wonderful, valuable and important practices. Not only does it function as a way to further enhance and expand one’s vocabulary and English skill set from an academic stance, it also acts as an escape from the real world and can unleash and evoke so many different responses from readers and trigger countless different visualisation in audience’s imagination.
The poet Dylan Thomas makes a good attempt to capture the wonder within the realm of a book in his “Notes On The Art Of Poetry”and the unfathomable “world between the covers of the book” which he’d most likely had experienced in his reading life.
Notes On The Art Of Poetry by Dylan Thomas
Comments & analysis: I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on / in the world between the covers
English author Neil Gaiman, being an author, also appears to be aware of reading’s ability to bring readers to a whole new dimension that lies within what is being read and also reading writing’s, specifically fiction’s, ability to help evoke feelings of empathy which I wholeheartedly agree with.
Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming
A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all…
In Gaiman’s speech above, he also stresses the importance of “good” libraries with librarians who can “help [readers] navigate [the book’s] world.” and parents’ willingness to understand the absence of a “bad book” in this world on a child’s reading career. While one may easily dismiss it as Gaiman’s excuse for any book he’d written that would be considered a “bad book”, I personally believe that what he’d said had a deeper meaning and purpose than that due to having seen and experienced many of the examples, including “limited” reading discouraging one’s love for it, that were provided in his speech.
Other than the books I’d read for personal pleasures, I’d also read books from the school library as part of the “wider reading” program set by my English teacher.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was one of the literary classics that I’d picked out to fulfil the checkbox for “book published more than 100 years ago.” Having heard of this legendary narrative and seeing as it fulfilled a checkbox, it was no surprise that I found myself indulging in this iconic book covering a friend’s alarming discovery about his friend, Dr Jekyll’s, ability to transform and morph into a darker alter ego, Mr Hyde, with one gulp of the serum.
World War Z was another book that I’d picked for “book chosen due to book cover”. It’s a apocalyptic science fiction novel about a fictional zombie epidemic that occurs around the world and how humanity fought back against this terror. The story most definitely evoke feelings of fear and had disturbed me enough to make me sceptical and paranoid of anyone who starts coughing or is sick and yet I still found myself to have the urge to continue reading this chilling yet thrilling book.
To conclude, I would like to recommends 10 books that I myself would undoubtedly bring with me if I was ever stranded on a deserted island:
- “Kiddy Humour For All Ages,” George Ong
A collection of hilarious jokes that would forever be timeless to tell and read about. Experiencing humour would probably keep me sane and happy on the island.
- “The Complete Chronicles of Narnia,” C. S Lewis
It is perhaps my favourite book series of all time and one I’ve re read multiple times. Having it with me will not only unlock childhood memories but also once again fill me with the wonder that I experienced the first time I read it.
- “The Holy Bible”
As a devoted Christian, the Holy Bible has been something I used as a guide in many aspects of life ranging from morality to having hope in the most dreadful and gloomy of times. Having hope while being stranded on an island would most likely come in handy.
- “Chicken Soup For The Soul: Just For Teenagers,”
A collection of short autobiographies written by teenagers about their struggles. All of which I can relate and learn from.
- “Inferno,” Dan Brown
While this was one of the darkest and most disturbing book I’d read, it was the first book that truly taught me the importance of perspective and really bewildered me during my first read. Being stuck on an island would give me more than enough time to reread and further understand and comprehend the book in a way the year 6 me probably would not have picked up on.
- “The Kingdom Of Fantasy,” Elizabeth Dami
Being one of my favourite stories as a young child, this book filled me with wonder and while having a simple plot, dazzled me through the magical setting in which the story took place.
- “Back Before Dark,” Tim Shoemaker
My favourite crime and mystery book of all time. Especially since the book depicted teenagers doing believable things to solve the mystery and issue in the story whereas other crime story I’d read depicted year 6 students unrealistically breaking into the houses of suspect in the middle of the night of be able to fend off a fully grown teenager.
- “The Whole Business With Kiffo And The Pitbull,” Barry Jonsberg
The first and only story I’d studied in school that I’d truly enjoyed. I can still remember reading it on the bus to school expecting myself to be about to enter a phase of extreme boredom only to find myself bursting into fits of uncontrollable laughter at an irresponsible and embarrassing volume during the book.
- “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” Arthur Conan Doyle
What better thing to do while being stranded on an island than to sink your reading teeth into a collection of iconic Sherlock Holmes tales!
- “What To Do In An Emergency,” Reader’s Digest
Being on an island will most likely bring along numerous dangers for me to encounter and manage. This book covers absolutely every single survival skill one would require in life ranging from how to treat animal bites to outdoor incidents like quicksand. Its neat and appropriate labelling and organisation of its content makes it all the more convenient and easy to whip up at any given time you need it for an emergency.