With the new shutdowns, why not pick up a book and escape?

Namita Nair

Staff Writer

     During this winter vacation, many students at American High will be cozying up with their AP textbooks and TV remotes to drown themselves in studying for finals and becoming experts on all their favorite tv shows. The art of picking up a book and reading for fun is being lost, but this winter, there is time to relax and unwind with your favorite books, thanks to the quarantine keeping everyone at home.

     That means staying at home.

     No ski vacations.

     Please. Just stay at home. We’re almost done.

     With this newly available time, many people will be looking for new books to explore worlds outside their homes while staying safe. This tool of exploration through imagination has become a beacon of hope for many students at American.

     “Reading a book is like a virtual vacation sometimes. We need to get away from this crazy world we live in right now,” says Mrs. DiFranco, the librarian here at American High.

     “It’s important to keep your mind active, and reading is one way to do that.  I read the New York Times daily updates for news and then try to take my mind off the news with fiction.”

     Emily Strout (11) agrees that books can be a portal through which individuals can travel to different worlds.

     “It’s another form of escapism, which has been pretty helpful. Honestly, we’re stuck at home. I miss a lot of things and I don’t want to, you know, I’m not stupid. I’m not going to go out and do stuff that I shouldn’t be doing. So reading is something that helps you with this kind of stuff.”

     Katarina DiPaola (11) views reading as a way to unwind from busy days of Zoom meetings and homework.

     “Reading helps me calm down. It’s one of those things that I can focus on something else for a while, instead of worrying about the world or worrying about school. And so, I think, just right now, it helps me feel healthier and more sane.”

     DiPaola concurs that with the fast-paced changes that have happened this year, sometimes the only remedy is a book in your hands. 

     But the long debate of whether ebooks, audiobooks, or physical books are better rages on.

     DiPaola, a fan of physical books explains, “I definitely think physical books are nice…that’s a comforting feeling for me, but also I like the ease of ebooks.”

     She goes on to say, “I don’t tend to read audio books. That doesn’t really appeal to me as much. I like to read. It’s part of soaking up the information…it helps with your vocabulary, with your spelling, with your understanding. I think I would miss things if I was listening to an audio book.”

     Ruth Lu (11) offers a valid reason as to why ebooks are not as convenient as they seem to be.

     “I prefer physical books since I am able to focus better and I like the feel of paper. Also, I try to avoid looking at screens right before bed, and physical books are the best for that.”

With the amount of time that all of us have been staring at screens, a rest from their bright lights is definitely preferred.

     With winter vacation coming up, students will have free time to indulge themselves in a little recreational reading. And Christmas themed books are perfect to set the mood.

     “A Redbird Christmas. I read that every Christmas. It’s not a Christmas if I don’t read that book,” stresses Strout.

    Lu shares her topic choices for reading, including a nonfiction pick that is especially relevant.

     “If anyone wants to learn more about diseases, I have two book recommendations for that. SARS: How a Global Epidemic was Stopped, a book edited by the WHO, gives a very detailed look at how different public organizations and governments worked together to control the spread of SARS. It is a good read for any interested in how public health agencies deal with emerging diseases.”

     If you’re a history buff, she recommends Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics by Ruth L. Sime.

“It really is a fascinating look at one of the most underappreciated figures in nuclear physics…This book illustrates how science is a collaborative endeavor that not only relies on teamwork between scientists, but also the interactions between science and society at large. The consequences of the political climate on the science in Nazi Germany is a major focus of the second half of the book, and I recommend it for anyone interested in history or physics.”

     Books offer more than English language lessons and escapism. The philosophies that each piece of literature explores are information that readers keep forever.

      DiPaola reveals that books have helped her to avoid premature judgement.

     “Books don’t write about perfect people. We write about real people, we write about real problems, and you read these and you realize the complexities of others. So you can look at someone and say, ‘I thought you were like this,’ but I read this book and you know someone…it turned out [that] they were completely different…I think it helps me open up more.”

     Mrs. DiFranco shares that books can sometimes be the most powerful tool to use to find yourself.

     “I also have a pretty good understanding of depression because I have read every book on the subject I could get my hands on. I realized I suffered my first major depression in junior high school, and have fought the depression war my entire life. I am a winner in this never ending battle! I used to keep this part of me secret. Now I understand that seeking information and sharing it, can help in understanding myself, and gain an understanding of others. Books have done that for me. And when I get too old to see, I will appreciate audio books!”

     This winter vacation, when you have the time, put down the remote or the controller and pick up a book! You never know what you might find within those pages.

 Books will always be a wall that serves to protect you from reality. These books are quite literally a wall.

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