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Read a Dang Book

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Rachel Kim, Editor-in-Chief

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  My biggest advice to incoming high school freshmen—and all high school students in general—is to never stop reading. Here’s why.

I remember when I spent most of my time at Fairfax Library. In elementary school, I would beg my mom to take me there so I could read the next batch of books on my list. My sister and I spent hours browsing every magazine twice and reading all the chapter books available (sometimes we would even secretly read the teen novels).

  Entering fifth grade, I had read all the books in the Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Twilight series. The third to last book of Maximum Ride came out halfway through fifth grade and I prepared myself to go into battle with my mom to buy me the novel. Although I never won any of these battles, I ended up spending hours at Barnes and Nobles to enjoy the expensive water from Starbucks and my one true love, books.

   When Maximum Ride came out, I received my first iPhone, but it didn’t really matter because only five people in my class had phones and everyone else used instant messaging from a computer. However as sixth grader, I did have an Instagram. Actually I made it in fifth grade and was one of the first people to have a social media page on Instagram. But since no one had an electronic device, it didn’t matter.

  The iPhone didn’t affect me. I was still reading books, lots and lots of books. But then a year went by, and seventh grade happened.

  A bunch of my friends and I moved schools in seventh grade and that’s when Instagram became so important — helped us stay connected. Instagram started out as a small app with a couple hundred people then turned into the leading social media app in the nation. Everyone was going crazy trying to find their best angle, and attempting to have celebrities follow them on their pages. The amount of likes and followers you had became HUGE.

 “You have 30 likes? Well I have 60. You have 300 followers? Well I have 600.”

 And the numbers kept rising.

 The last Maximum Ride book came out in mid-seventh grade and I didn’t even know. Actually I didn’t even care. All I cared about was keeping my followers in the know about what was happening in my life.

  Soon enough, I was in high school and since entering I have probably only read the books required by the summer reading list. Actually, that’s not even true.

  Do I blame Apple for this abrupt disinterest in reading for pleasure? Yes, but I blame myself more. I used to be able to read two 300 page novels in a day. I breezed through them, understanding every paragraph without losing focus. Now, it’s difficult for me to even edit someone’s rough draft in class because I lose focus after the first sentence.

  According to UCLA Newsroom, as technology plays a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined. Reading for pleasure decreased amongst most young people in the recent years. So at least I wasn’t the only one who lost some brain cells.

 But brain cells weren’t the only thing I’ve lost. I’ve lost a lot of things during high school: my pencil case ( I don’t even use one anymore), my ID card, my lunch, my $100 calculator… All of those were never to be found. I also lost my folder at one point, but it was later rediscovered with all its content still there, which didn’t really surprise me since a chemistry folder isn’t really fun to steal unless you want to do homework.

 However, throughout these three years of high school, I have never once lost a reading book, because I never carry one. If anything I just lost my ability to read.

 It’s sad to think that I’ve probably only read roughly six books in four years. That may seem like a lie because each English class reads at least three books in year, but nope. I’m telling you the truth. I’ve read maybe six books in four years. I’ve never read any of the assigned books from school because I just don’t want to. At least the three books I’ve read were for my enjoyment, even if it was because my mom took my phone away.

 The last time I read a book was two weeks ago. Before then, I had forgotten what it was like to read just for fun. Not to annotate or markup to prepare (not that I’ve actually ever done that) for an in-class essay, but to read a book for my own enjoyment.

 Now the sad thing when I read The Night Circus was when I swiped up to “turn” the page. Sure enough, we all have seen the videos of children trying to swipe through a print magazine expecting some response.

 What can I say? I grew up in the electronic world. I have become less in tune with my past self and I did swipe a book. Even now, as I’m writing this down, my mind is spinning. And I’ve read thousands of memes. And I’ve read thousands of articles on whether Leonardo DiCaprio is dating a new supermodel. And I want to know when the next season of Sense8 is coming out. I have read more of these unnecessary things than I have read books in the past years. And am I upset about it? Yes. Will I do something about? Recommend a book to me and we’ll find out.

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Rachel Kim, Editor-in-Chief

Rachel Kim is the Editor-in-Chief for Smokes Signals. When she is not playing volleyball for West High or writing/editing articles for Smokes, she is probably...

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