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Lost in Literature: Bella Vista’s Bibliophiles

In my last article, I talked about the modern choice of reading print or reading on digital. But a question still came up during my writing: do we still read books? Outside of specific school assignments, it’s not often you hear discussion about books compared to movies and TV. It’s also more uncommon for teens than when you're, say, an adult. Quarantine has certainly shifted up many things, so has it shifted reading too? Interested to find out the answers, I took to the power of social media and asked some BV students about their passion for reading.

One of the biggest pieces of information to find was how quarantine affected readers, while they could also maintain school. BV sophomore Vara Brockett reflected on her past year in quarantine, and how different it has made things: “I've pretty much completely stopped reading, quarantine dueled with distance learning has made my attentions span like maybe five seconds long, so the thought of even sitting down to read a book would take a lot of effort.” (Vara Brockett, Sophomore)

Similarly, BV Junior Sarah Lindholm noticed an odd middleground of her reading experience over this past year: “I feel like I have been reading more and reading less at the same time. Quarantine took a huge toll on my mental health, and it actually made me want to read less. I still read a lot, but not as much as I normally do. It also depends on the book, and on my mood. I go through reading slumps that make me not want to touch a book for weeks at a time, and then I’ll do a complete 180 and read a book every 3 days. I’d say that while I have read quite a lot over quarantine, it’s not as much as I would have liked to.” (Sarah Lindholm, Junior)

This is interesting, because in both cases while given more time in theory, there are many other things linked to passion in literature, which is why they weren’t able to read. Quarantine has affected us all differently, and it’s interesting to see all kinds of different lifestyles to be altered.

Given the time during this quarantine, I also was interested in whether readers can explore more genres or authors during this time. When asked what their favorite authors and genres were over this pandemic, Brockett replied with this: “I've definitely continued with nonfiction, but I've been hiking and running more often this past year so I've gotten into Jon Krakauer. And then in general favorite author is Ernest Hemingway, and my favorite book would be either A Farewell to Arms or In Cold Blood.” (Vara Brockett, Sophomore)

Lindholm responded with this:

“In fall of 2019, I started reading the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, and I’ve been hooked ever since! I’ve read her books several times over the past year. She’s a fabulous author and I love how complex her characters are and how good her worldbuilding is. She’s definitely in my top 5. I also am getting into books by Maggie Stiefvater. I read The Raven Cycle right when quarantine started but I lost interest. However, I decided to reread it a few months ago and I don’t regret it at all. I highly recommend it. Overall, those are probably my top two favorite authors at the moment. They both have amazing minds and create the best worlds. I definitely am a sucker for fantasy and historical fiction. Lately, however, I am starting to get into thrillers. Leigh Bardugo has another book that is separate from her Grishaverse books. It’s called Ninth House, and it’s sort of like a dark academia/thriller/dark fantasy book? I don’t even know how to describe it, but I love it.” (Sarah Lindholm, Junior)

It was good to know that readers could find happiness in both their favorite books and new books alike. In high school you tend to have a lot more freedom when it comes to literature consumption, but at the cost of some childlike interest in books. Luckily it seems the more dedicated readers always find a way to hop into a new book.

Even as a reader myself, from an outsider’s perspective it seems weird to favor a book over modern day pieces of media like movies or tv. Even if you were invested in reading at a young age, you may feel as though you’ve read everything. However, there’s a good percentage of people who always find a new book or author to get into, and enjoy the content as much as anything mainstream. When asked about her experience with escapism into literature, Sarah Lindholm provided this insight: “I guess I love reading so much because it distracts me from the outside world and allows me to think about something else for a while. I love getting involved in other people’s stories and feeling like I am that character. I also love the new worlds and ideas that I discover when reading. I love being able to step outside of myself for a while and be a part of another world.” (Sarah Lindholm, Junior)

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is escape into another world. What better time to do that during a pandemic, and what better way to do that with a novel. Let’s hope we can all keep up that reading energy once we return.

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