Oh for a book and a shady nook!

By on April 1, 2011

Photo © Elena Derevtsova


With the advent of the e-book in the last few years, it seems more and more expats are asking whether they should “switch over” to this electronic medium of literature. Despite some obvious superiorities of e-books (many of which you can download to your PC for free, by the way), there is a lot of serious debate over whether the simple pleasure of feeling the pages touch your fingers is being lost. To people concerned with a trivial problem such as e-books vs. books, I posit a more fundamental question: shouldn’t we be more concerned with how little we read to begin with?


As a recent recipient of a prestigious (read: expensive) undergraduate education, I realized during the last several years how little our postmodern society engages in serious interpreting of books. My point here is not to be a cynic – if anything, this is self criticism of my own favorite study habits in college. I cannot emphasis enough how many opportunities are lost by young students unwilling to do the work required for real critical thinking. It was not so long ago that the only people who even bothered going in for college education were those ready to spend four years of their life mostly reading books. After all, what else was there to do before the television, internet, and keitai denwa came along?


In the last year or so, I have been fortunate enough to rediscover a joy of reading that I had not been accustomed to since elementary school. Along with this, I have discovered how to more easily comprehend our technocratic society and formulated a much more articulate view of how to address problems. In an age when much of our knowledge is assimilated through media such as internet and television, I realized that my own focused reading was the only way to really apply myself critically. For everyone out there, whether they are a businessperson, parent, student, or whatever else, I advise you to do the same. Whether you choose to read e-books or books will not make a difference, as long as you want to learn.


Zach is a former student at American School in Japan and Nishimachi International School.

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