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Reading safe with this generation

There was a time when I scoffed at people who said they never read outside of class. I used to always have a non-academic book in my purse or backpack, so when there was time between classes or I was waiting for my latte, I would have something to enjoy.

This semester the only books in my tote bag are required reading. It feels like whenever I finish one book, there is another to start. I understand what people meant when they said they just didn’t have time to read.

Even with this new realization, I was still disappointed and slightly insulted by a Tampa Tribune editorial from Nov. 19, “Don’t Concede Your Teen’s Need To Read,” in which they came to some very hasty conclusions.

“We all know teenagers and young adults who only read things on the Internet or in the text messages they hammer out with their thumbs,” the editorial board wrote. “They are victims of a culture that de-emphasizes literary classics, and the consequences are dire.”

Yes, there are some people who do not pick up a book, but many do. Many courses at USF have required reading, and if students fail to read what is assigned, they could fail the classes. College students – the majority of them young adults – do read. They just don’t always read for pleasure.

A 1999 study entitled “Do They Read for Pleasure? Recreational Reading Habits of College Students,” by Jude D. Gallik, found that 76 percent of students would read more if they had the time.

“The finding that such a high percentage of students expressed a positive attitude toward reading (as measured by their interest in reading more) is, to an educator, reassuring,” reported the study published in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy.

In addition, the American culture is not de-emphasizing literary classics – it is just embracing them in new ways.

Jane Austen’s beloved book Pride and Prejudice was adapted into a movie in 2005 and made nearly $40 million. This romantic tale is also the basis for the best-seller Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, which was also adapted into a movie.

The movie Beowulf, based on the oldest surviving epic in British literature, is up to $57 million at the box office and still going strong.

Technology and advancements are not always foils for traditional reading – sometimes they offer new, convenient ways to read.

Amazon introduced “Kindle,” a wireless reading device, which allows people to have more than 88,000 books at their fingertips. A Kindle owner can buy a book and it will be auto-delivered wirelessly in less than a minute. Periodicals, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Time Magazine, are available as well.

Reading for pleasure should be encouraged. However, just because some people can’t find the time to read for pleasure does not necessarily mean they are not reading at all. And technology should not be considered the downfall of literary classics, but a chance to experience them in a new way.

Candace Kaw is a junior majoring in history and mass communications.