While checking the comments on this blog earlier this morning, I came across one on a review I had written of the novel Rebecca. It read:
hey is it the full review plz tell i need to do my hw..?
Umm . . . .
Well, if you’d read even a little bit of the review, you’d realize that no, it is not a complete review. At one point, I quite clearly stated “I won’t spoil the mystery for you.” That pretty much means you’re not going to get an outline of the entire plot in my review.
After I got that initial eye roll out of the way, then I got a little more annoyed. Doesn’t anyone READ anymore? And don’t students have some sense of pride and accomplishment in DOING THEIR OWN WORK?!
It’s sad to me that instead of reading the book, this student is seeking out reviews of it online. And Rebecca is a book worth reading! My frustration isn’t to say I haven’t been in this commenter’s shoes. I “reread” Great Expectations last year. I kept saying I was rereading it because it had been an assigned book in high school, but it became clear halfway through the novel (when I got to a part I completely did not remember), that I’d read about half of the book and then read the Cliff’s Notes. I guess I just ran out of time.
I think what bothers me the most about all of this is that there is a generation growing up that doesn’t like to read. A generation that has grown up on Internet and video games, movies and Wikipedia. A generation that doesn’t get excited about the smell of ink on paper, like I do. We live in a world in which bookstores are closing by the hundreds. While I don’t really foresee myself getting an e-reader anytime in the near future, I applaud anything that makes it easier for people to read. . . but I’m also a little sad that there’s a generation coming up that doesn’t know about the beauty of a well-designed and printed book. The joy of sticking a bookmark between the pages. Or even a frame of reference for the term “page-turner.”
I love to read. I love to get lost in the story. I form lasting relationships with the characters—for some of them, it’s a blind love that covers a multitude of sins, like the way I feel for Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. There are characters I hate, books I wished I hadn’t read, and books I’m glad I read, but won’t ever read again. I just love stories. I like wiping away a tear with Anne when Captain Wentworth says she’s not as beautiful as she used to be in Persuasion. I felt simultaneously horrified, stifled, and restricted with Miss Skeeter in The Help. I underlined the phrases that spoke to my heart in Frederick Buechner’s autobiographical works. I hold a deep and abiding love for Aslan, the Christ character C.S. Lewis created in the Chronicles of Narnia.
I love to read, and it bothers me a little that this student is robbing him/herself of the joy of a well-written novel. The joy of discovery. Laughter. Pain. Happiness and great sadness. I wish that I could help today’s young readers to understand that the joy of reading isn’t about checking an assignment off a list or getting a good grade. It’s about opening your eyes to the complexity of what it means to be alive—and experiencing it through as many viewpoints as possible.