Reading still matters in the digital age


In today’s fast-paced, online society, everything seems to come and go in a blur. Our short attention spans keep us constantly switching from one task (or tab) to the next, looking for that next pump of dopamine or that next adrenaline rush.

It can be hard to put our phones down, ignore the outside distractions, sit calmly, and focus on the present, which is exactly why reading matters.

“There is profound beauty to be found outside the digital world…And reading is one of those things,” junior Kiran Maharaj said.

Many don’t realize it, but reading can play a major role in the formation of our identity. It teaches us morals and ethics, shows us new ideologies and philosophies, gives us courage and inspiration and opens up our mind to new possibilities.

Reading can influence a person’s identity by supplying details that can only be found in books

— Kane Kinney

“Reading can influence a person’s identity by supplying details that can only be found in books,” junior Kane Kinney said.

For many, reading can almost seem dull and tedious, and it isn’t their fault. Today’s technological advancements have reprogrammed our minds to take in rapid, short, and contextually different information at a constant pace.

For example, scrolling through twitter cultivates our mind to go through hundreds of short and different messages. Instagram enables us to scroll through hundreds of photos, and this same mechanism can be said for almost any social media.

While there are some benefits, our generation is exceedingly quick at switching social contexts and digging through information — we have as a result lost our ability to focus and concentrate.

“Nowadays we are always looking for that high stimulation, and it is important to take time and rewind our mind through reading,” Maharaj said.

Besides relearning to focus, reading offers up many other benefits as well. Reading from a young age can help with sleep, reduce anxiety, prevent cognitive decline, fight depression, increase comprehension, and simply inspire us.

“The type of book a person reads can also help with their identity because it can express what they are interested in and want to learn more about,” Kinney said.

So what genres of books should we be reading if it plays such a crucial role in our early-childhood and adolescent development? Fiction or nonfiction? The short answer is both.

“I think that it is important to read nonfiction and fiction because it allows your mind to take in knowledge, but also relax and take a break,” Kinney said.

Fiction allows us to leave the firm understanding of reality and step through into someone else’s life. It enables us to conjure up vivid imagery in our mind, cultivate a sense of pluralism and perspective, and understand human nature.

On the other hand, nonfiction helps to broaden our horizons. It is great for increasing our critical thinking and comprehension skills, as well as understanding the world around us.

So now that we understand the importance of reading and the benefits of reading fiction and nonfiction, let’s look at some specific examples of books that can help cultivate an open and curious mind, as well as provide an enjoyable experience.


Book Recommendations:

Ana Torchia

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach

A short and easy read, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a simple yet impactful read; a book that revives our long lost childhood curiosity and convinces us to live a life of meaning and commitment.

“It gives us inspiration to pursue what we are passionate about,” Maharaj said.

The book narrates the journey of Jonathan, a seagull whose passion to transcend the physical limits of flying is frowned upon by his flock. Touching on themes of curiosity, passion, not conforming to set expectations, and spirituality, this short read gives us a taste of what it is like to be our most authentic and curious selves, free of social constraints and physical boundaries.

Ana Torchia

Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

For those who prefer more fiction than non-fiction, Kafka on the Shore is an engrossing and riveting book, full of elements of surrealism, absurdism, and that infamous Kafka-esque philosophy.

The book follows teenager Kafka Tamura, as he tries to outrun a prophecy declared upon him by his own father. As the book progresses it becomes less of a story about a prophecy, and more so a story of two worlds – the conscious and the unconscious, and the fine line in between.

Filled with fast paced dialogue and action, with a subtle undertone of surrealist philosophy, the book is a must-read for those who are trying to get more out of fiction besides a good story.

Ana Torchia

The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri

An eye-opening and personal book, The Namesake weaves an intimate story about a young 2nd generation Indian immigrant named Gogal, who struggles with his identity and cultural heritage as he makes his way in the western world.

Another fictional read, the book touches on themes of identity, culture, romance, loss, and discovery, all from the perspective of a minority rarely heard of in American literature.

Ana Torchia

Fruits of the Earth – Andre Gide

Dense yet thought-provoking, Fruits of the Earth touches on themes of sin, following our impulses, and achieving eternality, with Gide at times seemingly directly speaking towards the reader, creating an intimate and surreal experience.

“It was written so long ago yet so relevant to today,” Maharaj said.

Although a much heavier and slower read, Fruits of the Earth is incredibly enriching in its philosophy and timeless lessons of life, a book one should read should they want to pursue a lifestyle beyond the exoteric.