I don’t read “real” books anymore. I don’t believe I’ve finished a book from cover to cover unless it was on my phone and written by some 16 year old in Nevada. Weirdly enough, I don’t think I want to pick up a real book again yet I love to read. There isn’t a second of the day where I wouldn’t be caught reading something yet its never seen because it all exists on my phone.
This infatuation with books created by non-published authors started in the 7th grade. I had a very close friend, my best friend to this day actually, introduce me to an app called Wattpad.
“Why are you always on your phone in class? You know she’s always watching us and you’ll get caught.” I said. She looked at me as if to say ‘do you believe I actually care about getting caught?’ And of course, she didn’t. She had a rebellious streak since I met her so, instead of putting the phone away she turns the screen towards me.
“I’m reading. That’s the point of silent reading time right?” she responded. She wasn’t exactly wrong but she wasn’t right either. We were supposed to under the teacher’s directions, pick a book at our reading level and read for 30 mins then log it. It was in every aspect a waste of time because the books were boring so most people just took naps or snuck in doing their homework for the next class. I thought it was dumb because my reading level restricted me. I was stuck at a level Y all because I couldn’t answer a question right on the comprehension test after the reading. I don’t believe it’s because I couldn’t answer the question correctly, I just didn’t answer in a way rudimentary education demanded. I know I wasn’t the only one discouraged because my imagination was just too broad when it came to drawing my own conclusions.
I take a peek at her phone and yeah she’s actually reading.
“It’s called Wattpad.” She answered my unasked question. I’m sure the curiosity showed via my facial expression.
“It’s an app where you can read books written by other people.” She continued, “You can write books on here too. I started writing my own.” and her saying that really piqued my interest.
“So these are made by actual people?” I ask. Thinking about it now, published books are made by actual people as well, but they feel different. I wanted to know more and she recommended I create an account so I did. “Spiceberry224” with her cringe-worthy name was born in October of 2012 (and is still on Wattpad today just many name changes later). I added book after book to my library and I couldn’t stop reading. It baffled me how some people my age we’re getting to express themselves while I was still writing essays on the meaning of metaphors in a short story that I can’t remember today.
From that day on I never touched a real book again. To me what I was reading held more weight in its words than all the books on the shelf combined. I connected more with the 17-year-old attempting to write a romance novel than Shakespeare writing a tragic story about these two idiots falling in love and causing multiple deaths in a matter of four days. Yet schools would rather we read the latter as if they deserve more credit because their books have two pieces of cardstock binding them together. I later began to write on Wattpad seeing as I got inspired by books I was reading. How could a book that prompted me to begin writing and enjoying doing so be discredited by a system of learning because of something as silly as not having a publishing company backing it? It seems a bit regressive for schools to encourage higher learning while keeping you stuck in a box made way back in the 17th century.
I could name reasons all day as to why our education system isn’t the best environment for a reader or writer, but I’ll end saying just one last thing: I refuse to let education determine what is and isn’t acceptable to read and write anymore. It’s the equivalent of letting a stranger choose what food you like to eat; it’s completely nonsensical because nobody but you should be able to determine these things. I have actually learned while reading these books and I have advanced as a writer by picking up proper grammar and vocabulary along the way. I will continue reading on Wattpad, Webtoons, Webnovel, and any other unconventional reading app that stimulates my mind to create. Otherwise, I’d have to say my life as a reader would be boring and meet a slow uneventful demise.