The first time I saw the book, my eyes glanced right past its black spine as I scanned the titles lining the shelf in front of me at my local book and coffee shop. The book was averagely sized, a little on the thicker side, and its cover was not particularly impressive.
Not having yet read it, I wasn’t startled by the symbolism of the dominos on the cover or filled with appreciation for its carefully worded content and left it behind on the shelf.
The second time I saw the book, months later, it piqued my interest enough to earn a second glance and, then, a long, meaningful stare. Curious, I slid the book from its crowded prison between two other worn books. I scanned the back cover’s summary and then flipped lazily through the pages. Its intriguing titles and format and rough sketches dispersed throughout the book caught my eye.
Twenty minutes later, I was sitting cross legged on carpeted floor, already well into Part 1. Fascinated by the author’s unique use of language, I was enthralled by the narrator’s voice and Liesel’s story.
An immeasurable amount of time later, I pried my eyes away from the book, glancing around at my surroundings. It almost felt like I was resurfacing from being underwater, and it took a moment to focus on the reality of the bustle around me.
I looked at the people around me–most had hunched shoulders and had their gazes locked on their cell phones and laptops.
I was still recovering from what felt like an emotional roller coaster and everyone else was mindlessly scrolling through their twitter feeds.
This was perhaps the first time I had fully realized the power of words and the affect they can have. The book was quite lengthy, and I didn’t end up finishing it in the book shop that day. However, Liesel’s haunting story will never leave me.
The book, Markus Zusak’s novel “The Book Thief,” is a tragic, fictional story about the Holocaust. Zusak’s writing has inspired my fascination with language and the development of my own personal writing style, as well as the desire to incorporate reading into my every day life.
Sadly, it seems that fantastic experiences with literature like mine aren’t exactly common among young adults. Quality books have been left on their shelves to collect dust while most of our generation’s attention is given to social media and television.
This fast-paced society is tainted by instant gratification and more technology than we know what to do with, and the truth is that many of us just don’t have the patience to read through a few hundred pages of literature. We’d rather sit through a 90-minute movie version of a book than read it ourselves.
But there is so much we can gain from reading. It can not only calm stress, but it also increases your empathy, improves your vocabulary, and broadens your global perspective. Plus, it gives you something interesting to talk to your friends about other than celebrity gossip and what so-and-so posted online last night.
Finally, if you’re a reader like me, you’ll agree that there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of finishing a good book.
I’m not saying to delete your social media accounts, unsubscribe from your Netflix subscription, and lock yourself in a library all the time, but I think it would do our generation some good to take a break from the computer screen and pick up a book. And no, Nicholas Sparks’ latest romance novel doesn’t count.
Try reading something that challenges you to think differently about a social issue, that teaches you something you have little knowledge about, that inspires you to get off the couch and experience the world for yourself.
Not sure where to start? Great websites such as goodreads.com give you recommendations based on your interests and other books you already like.
So next time you’re bored and find yourself checking your social media sites – again – or re-watching that rerun that you’ve already seen three times, grab a book instead. You’ll be glad you did.
And don’t worry, Facebook will still be there when you’re finished.
Featured photo credit: blogspot.com
Additional photo credit: tumblr.com