The decline of the novel

Students tend to choose technology over printed entertainment

When was the last time you read a book for pleasure?

Books are a diminishing form of relaxation – Netflix, Hulu and the variety of other streaming services that provide entertainment in a couple clicks overshadow novels.

With little time to relax, students find themselves looking for the simplest way to ease their minds – little do they know, a book is an entire new world.

“A book can take you somewhere you’ve never been before,” said Kathleen Quinlivan, senior assistant Liberian at Lockwood. “It can be an exploration, an adventure, a mystery, whatever you want. There’s something about sitting down to read a book that’s really special.”

Reading is an important practice. It is a complex task that requires many different parts of the brain to work together. Reading can actually “enhance brain function,” because it is a form of behavioral training, according to a recent study from Carnegie Mellon University.

To build on this, neuroscientists at Emory University have determined reading a particularly engaging novel changes the way the circuits in your brain connect with one another. These connections can last up to five days, impacting the way your brain processes new information.

Quinlivan said reading books for leisure helps our brains learn to process information better, like large blocks of text in a textbook.

“When you read, it takes a lot of focus to be able to do,” Quinlivan said. “Especially when you read a printed book, you have to be engrossed with what’s in front of you. When you read on a Nook, it can be easy to just check your email quickly or get distracted with the device.”

Lockwood has an entire list through Pinterest of books to read for leisure for students to access. Anything on the list is available at Lockwood to check out.

Unfortunately, many students only have enough time to read books for class. This means the only thing they can read is their textbook – or, if they’re lucky, an assigned book.

Darius Mallon, a graduate classics student, is reading Plato’s The Republic for one of his classes. Even though he sees the value in this book, he reads for leisure with a purpose.

“I think if you’re travelling somewhere, you should read a book about that place,” Mallon said. “I recently read Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather because it takes place in Santa Fey, New Mexico area. I was going there, and got a better idea of the area because of the book.”

Not only are books readily available on campus, they’re easy to read online. Kindles, Nooks and iBooks allow for books to be taken on the move and read anywhere.

Next time you go to scroll through the usual groupings of movies on Netflix, try picking up a book instead. It’s as easy as going to the library or Googling the top 20 bestsellers.

The imagination required to picture what’s going on in a book may be more interesting than anything you’ll find on TV – if you give it a chance to be.

Tori Roseman is a senior arts editor and can be contacted at