Sometimes I worry about the future of books. Not the books themselves, as I truly believe that libraries and the written word will not become extinct for a long time. What I worry about is whether or not young people are reading them.
I am a fanatic book lover myself and have been for as long as I can remember. For me, books are more than just some paper with words on them. They contain stories and lives and truths and whole universes. Fiction or non-fiction, children’s or adults, books have the power, if you let them, to change your thinking. Books can inspire you, cause tears of happiness or sadness, infuriate you, ignite passion, create longing, teach you something you didn’t know, show truth and leave you with the overwhelming sense that there is hope.
It astonishes me what clever people can create with words. And books are the evidence of that.
So, regarding how I feel towards books, I hope you can understand how I feel sad when I talk to teenagers who have a negative attitude towards reading. Maybe it’s just some of the people I know, but when the response I get to my passionate book rants is “Why would I read it if I can just watch the movie?” I feel like the world of English teachers has failed me.
My reaction to that retort is of course, “A movie based on a book is simply that, based. It is only adaption that has intentionally left out detail to adapt it to the screen. The fine details of the plot and often the whole truth of the characterisation can be found in the book and book alone. There is nothing wrong with an adaption, but it does not compare to the entirety of the book.”
I know English teachers are not (solely) to blame for this, but what is more distancing from the world of literature than Macbeth at sixteen years of age?
Teenagers are not dumb. In fact, I think they are even smarter than adults. And often more open. But somewhere, with some people, insolence towards books has been established. And I want it to stop. Teenagers are at a time in their life when books should have a prominent role. Books are not boring. And if you think that you are clearly reading the wrong ones.
Even fiction books contain truth. And in my opinion, some of the best novels can be found in a category known as Young Adult. YA fiction is directly written for people aged around fourteen to mid twenties or so and targets our experiences and I think, in some way, confirms that what we are experiencing is okay. Some of my favourite books are from this genre.
A book I read and re-read again and again in my first few years of high school was a book called Raincheck on Timbuktu by Kirsten Murphy. It’s not a work of literary genius, but to me it was my book. No book is the same to two people. Everybody has a different reading experience, a different interpretation of events and different emotions towards characters. Raincheck on Timbuktu was a story that I just identified with at that age and that period of my life. I still genuinely like it now, and reading it instills me with a contented feeling that this book gave me hope at that time of my life. That’s what books can do.
Please don’t argue that books are irrelevant. All books have relevancy, obviously some more than others. But most importantly, books have incredible relevancy to youth.
I am quite known to yell at people about books, and I feel this is no exception. I have three books for you to read (presuming you refuse to read the seven Harry Potter books) that will completely change your perception of the power of books.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Read these and then you will understand books forever.
Read more by Lauren