We’re in the final sprint. After a tiresome semester of exams and problem sets, textbooks that we barely read and papers that we procrastinated on, classes are winding down and the sweet scent of winter break is in the air. We’re looking forward to a long break full of sleeping, socializing, eating (noncampus food!), playing video games, watching movies, more sleeping and giving the brain a much-needed break.
But what about a break full of books?

Don’t grimace; reading should not be painful, but rather an enjoyable and rewarding pastime. But let’s face the facts. As a nation, we do not read enough and thus we often perceive reading as a chore or assignment. In recent years, researchers have found that despite increasing enrollment in colleges, basic reading comprehension levels of graduates have dropped significantly compared to 1992. With the rise of the Internet, personal computers, video games, films and other visual media, who has time to read anymore? Our generation is very used to getting information rapidly online with little effort required. With all these sources of entertainment vying for our attention, is it really worth it to sit down with some old-fashioned print?

Without question, yes. A book requires discipline and commitment on our part, but, in return, it provides us with a unique and rewarding experience, broadening our horizons and taking us far beyond our armchair. A book is the perfect companion to a mug of hot chocolate beside a fireplace on a winter’s night; a book can also be great company on a bike in the gym. If you prefer digital content, an eBook would make a great addition to your iPhone or Amazon Kindle reader. BooksEqualGifts.com cites many humorous reasons why books are fantastic, such as the fact that books come fully charged, with no batteries or assembly required. The gift of a book is more original than a tie or a sweater and weighs much less than a fruitcake. And books not only can make someone laugh they can change someone’s life.

Try reading for fun, and you will find a plethora of books even better than ‘Harry Potter” or ‘Twilight” just waiting to be discovered. First, find something to read that you will enjoy. If you have a favorite author, look into similar writers; check online lists or ask a librarian. If you don’t have a favorite author or want to explore, start by sampling. Identify which genres you prefer Mystery? Horror? Historical fiction? Science fiction and fantasy? Go to your local bookstore or click through Amazon or Google Books to sample some authors.

I’ll things even provide a few initial suggestions. If you’re still suffering from ‘Harry Potter” withdrawal, check out some other young adult fiction or cult classics, such as the works of Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman. I especially recommend Markus Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief” a quick read that is immensely powerful and moving. Try some of the childhood classics, especially ‘Peter Pan” and ‘Alice in Wonderland” you’ll discover that they’re not for children at all. If you like literary fiction, check out Roberto Bolao’s ‘2666″; it has been called one of the best books of our time, and the critics can’t stop raving about it.

Additionally, if you’re ready for a bit of horror mixed with literary references and pop culture, I highly recommend Mark Danielewski’s ‘House of Leaves,” a book that defies all classification. If you prefer more visual content, consider graphic novels, such as ‘Watchmen,” which will be released as a movie next spring.

I challenge you to not waste away this break, but to read at least one book for fun. Set aside ‘Mario Kart” and ’24” and walk into your local Barnes ‘ Noble, Borders or (even better!) independent bookstore. See what’s on display, browse the shelves and ask for suggestions to get the right book. You will have purchased a first-class ticket to one of the world’s most enjoyable and rewarding pastimes. After all, checking Facebook statuses gets old after the first five minutes. Don’t you want to read something more interesting?

Gabster is a member of the class of 2009.

UR Womens’ Lacrosse trounces Nazareth 17-5

UR’s Womens’ Lacrosse team beat Nazareth University 17–5 on Tuesday at Fauver Stadium.

UR Baseball beats Hamilton and RIT

Yellowjackets baseball beat Hamilton College on Tuesday and RIT on Friday to the scores of 11–4 and 7–4, respectively.

An open letter to all members of any university community

I strongly oppose the proposed divestment resolution. This resolution is nothing more than another ugly manifestation of antisemitism at the University.