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The art of reading is in decline. We could be missing out on a world of freedom, especially as high school students.

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Updated: April 25, 2022

April 13, 2022

High school students are not known for their academic prowess. They are mostly known for their enormous parties, dating lives, and irresponsibility. In terms of self-directed learning, we are severely lacking in that field. Studies clearly show that reading in general is in decline, but especially among students our age:

These facts barely scratch the surface of the severity of the problem that we have here in America, especially since, to a certain extent, we are blessed to have access to the lessons of the past and to interact with the great minds of our time and times gone by. We really take for granted the great gift that we have been bestowed. The reason that I am so blunt about this is because I want people to wake up to the reality of their situation. We live in the age of the ever-present and we never think past 5 minutes into the future. We, as teenagers, act as if we are invincible. (We can be powerful, however, that doesn’t translate to invincibility.) We do not realize that our lives are incredibly short in the eyes of eternity, and at least to me, to waste that gift on mindlessly scrolling on Instagram or going down YouTube rabbit holes would be a disgrace to the people that came before and will come after us. We have many social ills and literature allows us to acknowledge them. To disregard books because of their apparent difficulty would be a disservice to our descendants. I understand that people have short attention spans as a result of continuous social media use, and I don’t expect them to read The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in one night (If you do, I’d give you props for doing better than me), but people have to at least try to read something- even if it is a little article from the local paper or another trusted news source. 

Cheap Ways To Read and How To Make Time to Read

There are many cheap ways to get your hands on books. If you have an electronic device, you can download many apps and gain access to many classic books for free. Apple Books provides multiple classics at the low price of free. With the Kindle App, you can gain access to multiple books for a very cheap price (for most of the time). In order to get your hands on a physical copy, you can go to ThriftBooks or AbeBooks to get many books for 4 dollars or more, with a majority of them being within the $4-7 range (as far as I’ve seen).  This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to either reading electronically or physically. You actually have to read the book to get to the bottom of that iceberg. The most common response to that is, “ I don’t have enough time to do it, otherwise I would.”, which is a response I have used in the past. What I’ve realized is that I do have enough time to do it, but I am wasting my time on other things that will be of no benefit to me in the long run. Those YouTube rabbit holes I referred to before are one of those things that will not take you through the long haul. I would advise you to check your schedule and see what things you do that will be of no benefit to you long term and cut them out. You will then, magically, find time to read those books that you have bought. 


I will leave you with this quote from Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences: "The man of culture finds the whole past relevant; the bourgeois and the barbarian find relevant only what has some pressing connection with their appetites. Those who remember alone have a sense of relatedness, but whoever has a sense of relatedness is in at least the first grade of philosophy. Henry Ford’s statement that history is bunk is a perfectly proper observation for a bourgeois industrialist, and it was followed with equal propriety by another: ‘Creeds must go.’ Technology emancipates not only from memory but also from faith." 

We must be able to escape our electronic prisons and explore worlds like the screens have yet to have even been blessed with. We must do this for the sake of our country and our families- and if not for them, for the sake of our own humanity.