Reading shortcuts cannot work for students forever

Feb 13 • Opinion, Top Stories • 386

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I have never been much of a reader. It’s not that I really have something against reading, it’s just that I am a really slow reader, and it takes me forever to get through books.

Why spend three months reading something when I can just watch the movie in a couple hours and be done with it?

This was my philosophy for both reading for leisure and for school up until this point.

All through high school, I had a foolproof system. I would go online, see which movie version of a book was the best, and then watch it.

After watching the movie, I would go online again, read the Sparknotes, Cliffs Notes and Shmoop pages on the book.

Once I understood what the book was saying in the broad strokes, and I saw someone’s interpretation of it, I finished the process by looking up college essays on what the difference between the movie and the book are.

I had all my bases covered, and it only took me a day to read. Any kind of play was even easier, as there are a good amount of movies based on Shakespeare plays that are word-for-word the script. All I had to do was watch the movie.

This system worked beautifully through high school, as I previously said, and even last year it worked out pretty well.

But I have come to a crossroads in my life where I cannot do this for the first time.

This semester, I enrolled in a class on the Space Race, the period of time in the ‘50s and ‘60s where the United States and Russia were trying to get into space before the other. I have been fascinated in this part of history for years now, and I am having a blast in the class.

There is one caveat however. There is a bunch of reading, something that I was apprehensive about at first. One of the books that we have to read is “The Right Stuff,” which was turned into a movie that I have seen many times, and it has a great audiobook on Audible that I knew about, so I knew that wouldn’t be an issue.

The other book, “This New Ocean,” is a tome with the smallest font I have ever seen.

“This New Ocean” is a comprehensive history of both the Space Race, and rocketry in general, and it is dense.

There is no movie about this, no Sparknotes, no Cliffs Notes, no Shmoop and no audiobook.

For the first time in my life, I have to do a dense amount of reading just about every week, and for the most part, I am actually enjoying myself.

Granted, I still read slower than molasses, and I have to take pretty regular breaks because I keep finding myself trailing off in thought and getting a bit bored.

All in all, I’m getting by, and since I am really interested in the material, I do find that the time goes by a little faster.

Do I regret only watching movies all through high school? Not for a second, but I wouldn’t mind going back to a couple of those books and really giving them a good chance.

I just might surprise myself with what I missed.

BENJAMIN HAYLETT
haylett001@knights.gannon.edu

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