To Read or Not to Read, That is the Question

Dessy-Liza Epie, Staff Writer

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The fear of Shakespeare had been drilled into me by my peers many years before we actually started reading it in 9th grade. If you spoke the name Shakespeare in any middle-school classroom, you were guaranteed to hear the class groan in unison.  It was a topic that no one liked, and I wasn’t even sure why. I didn’t know much about Shakespeare nor  did my peers. I bet that if you asked any middle-schooler which Shakespearean play my headline was drawn from they would stare with blank faces. It was just passed down that Shakespeare was hard and the language was difficult, so you shouldn’t like it.

By the time my 9th grade class got around to reading the age-old tragedy of young lovers in a week-long relationship that is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet , I was prepared. I had watched the movie with my sister, I had read  the summaries, and I was ready to finesse my way through the play . However, by the time we got to it in class, I was interested. In-class reading, discussions, and the general sense of understanding that I was experiencing pushed me to try actually reading the book. The story became interesting because of the people around me who made it fun.

That wasn’t the first time reading a book as a class made me more interested. Most books we read during school bored most of my peers and me out of our minds. Some skimmed, some used Sparknotes, and some just didn’t read. It wasn’t unusual. By 9th grade, however, more and more people were reading and more and more people were participating. Talking about a book you liked was fun because everyone else contributed. The class discussion brought ideas and new ways of thinking about elements of the story and the writing  that you couldn’t get on your own.

Some students are just against reading, and I can accept that; however, just paying attention to how others describe the book could lead to reading it yourself. Regardless of whether you are an avid reader or not, at least paying attention to class discussions or lessons could lead to something. As boring and useless as a book may seem when you first read it, it may open up possibilities  and widen your scope. I would never pick up half the books I’m assigned to read on my own, and neither would most of my peers  but, more times than not, when  I’ve finished them I have a new understanding and have gained an appreciation for the story or the author.

If asked by underclassmen what books they should actually read, or whether that dreaded name – Shakespeare – is really so evil, my answers would be all of them because each book becomes infinitely more interesting if there’s someone along the way reading with you and, no, his work is not as hard as it seems, at least not with the help of technology. We have help in ways that many adults didn’t have; making use of them, our teachers, and our peers leads us to understanding the “dreaded” Shakespearean language. The class setting makes reading a book perfect but, if no one reads, no one gets it, and no one likes it. Shakespeare might be hard to understand, but it isn’t impossible – especially if there’s someone who is going through your struggle too. So, to read or not to read is really up to you.

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To Read or Not to Read, That is the Question