Read, Read and Read!

A stack of books on a shelfWritten by Shaowda Salehin, 3rd Year Honours English 

Photo Credits: Shaowda Salehin

Being home for a prolonged period of time is new to most of us. The business of our lives with school, work and socialization has suddenly slowed down or come to a standstill. In a time of fear and uncertainty, I think it's important to seek solace from stories told by other people. We remind ourselves that the world has undergone things like this and much more.

Reading our favorite fiction books or picking up a National Geographic magazine helps us reconnect with the world we have physically been distanced from.

So, throughout the break I’ve re-read some classics, including my very favorite novel of all time, Pride and Prejudice. Familiar love stories have always restored a sense of faith and hope in people; we begin to believe that some mystical love awaits us that is worth living for and beyond our wildest dreams. Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship blooms over just a few weeks in 19th century England. What’s more passionate than a love story about a dark and mysterious young man encountering a strong and rebellious young woman? With humorous family dynamics, a relentless mother pushing for marriage and a carefree and clueless father, the story remains beloved for every generation.

I hadn’t read Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens in several years; every past year I have picked up the novel and never had the opportunity to finish it. This year, with the abundance of time we've spent at home, I was able to re-read the story and experience it quite differently than as a 16-year-old studying grade 10 English. The French Revolution of the late 18th century seemed like a version of the current uprising against racism in North America. The point is, even during this global pandemic, political and social issues remain at the core of our society. Dickens’ perception of the Revolution reminded me that freedom from oppression has been a recurring theme of our history.  It gave me a sense of understanding regarding why we must fight time and time again, revolutionize repeatedly, until a sense of peace is attained. Reading the novel reaffirmed the importance of my activism for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Not only does reading fiction help us understand the world, but I encourage everyone to engage with other subject matters that we would often not leisurely look at if we did not have extra time. The thing is, I was terrible at first year Calculus, despite my consistent high grades in math throughout high school. My textbook was just laying around on my desk and I decided to open it just to remind myself why I performed so terribly in the course. Once I started looking at my textbook and notes, it became an everyday thing until I mastered integration by parts. I was relearning something and that made me feel productive, it made me feel accomplished in a way that I hadn’t before. The small encouragement and self-satisfaction I received from learning a new skill helped me find value in the time I spend throughout the day. I realized that overcoming challenges I faced with the course was not impossible and that hard work has positive results!

Learning new things is at the tip of your fingers. Find joy in learning again during the time we have at home! Gaining knowledge helps us secure our place in our current unknowing world climate. Make sure you’re reading everything that interests you, and educating yourself in the process, as the words written on the page unfold the mysteries of our life we didn’t even know existed! Keep reading!

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