For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a consistent reader. I’ve always had several books on hand for me to read but my reading habits have fluctuated quite often depending on what’s going on my life and where my priorities lie. Back in primary school, I used to be quite an avid reader and read many novels then. This was primarily due to the fact that daily reading was set as homework, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. However, once I began high school, I certainly saw a drop in how often I was reading. When in primary school, I used to read 5–6 times a week, I was now reading only one or two times per week. It was a major drop mostly brought on by the shock of high school and the increased workload. Especially when I was studying for the Melbourne High test, my reading habits almost became non-existent.

But over the past year, once I had taken the selective entry exam, I made an effort to increase my reading habits. Many of my friends were still avid readers and that encouraged me to get back into reading. I had many novels on my bookshelf so I began diving back into the world of literature and catching up on many of my novels, and I can definitely say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Many of my English teachers over the years have talked about the importance of reading and that is a statement I can certainly agree with. Reading is a skill that is invaluable for everyday life. Being able to read enables you to communicate with others and for you to understand what others are communicating back to you. Imagine if you couldn’t read directions or couldn’t purchase necessities in life such as food and water. Without reading, everyday life would be a true struggle.

However, reading is also incredibly beneficial for improving your English language skills. Through reading many novels of different genres, I’ve been able to build on my comprehension skills and have gained a better understanding of how ideas can be presented through the power of words. Reading has also helped improve my writing skills, as particularly my descriptions and communication of ideas has vastly improved over the past couple years. Overall, reading is incredibly important and an essential skill for everyday life. A further examination of the importance of reading is shown in this article:

“Notes on the Art of Poetry” by Dylan Thomas

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.

This poem above was written by poet Dylan Thomas and describes his love of books. He describes the amazing worlds found in the covers of books, how books can make you feel so many emotions and the outstanding eternal nature of words splashed across the pages. This poem is a brilliant piece of writing because it manages to capture the wonder of books so well and so fully. It’s only ten lines long and under a hundred words long, yet it feels so alive and rich, much of which is due to Thomas’ expert choice of language. Thomas is clearly a master of the English language and it’s on full display in this poem, with all the many creative and engaging ways that he describes the wonder of books. I may not love books the same way Thomas did but what he describes in his poem, is very accurate of the many emotions I’ve gone through when reading.

I deleted my social media apps because they were turning me into an idiot

The article describes in great detail the way that social media detaches us from society and the impact that it has on our daily life. It also, to a lesser extent, discusses how social media has caused us to become more and more detached from books, something which many high schoolers particularly struggle with.

Overall, I found this article to be very thought-provoking and incredibly well-written. I really appreciated how personal Lydia Smears was willing to be and that greatly helped with getting her message across about the destructiveness of social media. Personally, I don’t think social media is a huge problem for society so I was a little worried that the solution presented by this article was to detach oneself from all forms of social media. As such, I found that the way Lydia handled her social media addiction to be refreshing and much more realistic. She doesn’t fully quit on social media, but merely lessens her addiction on it and chooses to focus on other everyday activities such as reading. She admits the destructive qualities of social media but she still uses it from time to time, because there are some benefits to this age of social media. The advice she presented in this article of focusing on other everyday activities more but still utilising social media, is advice that I found quite beneficial because it wasn’t a task that was too destructive or extreme. It was simply a matter of turning one’s focus to other everyday activities instead of social media, which is advice that I can certainly take on for my everyday life.

For wider reading, the first book which I finished reading was the novelisation of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The Last Jedi checks off the fantasy category of the wider reading checklist. While the Last Jedi has many aspects of science fiction, it also contains many fantastical elements such as the Force and the Jedi.

Before reading the novel, I had already watched the theatrical film which I thoroughly enjoyed and was interested to read this “expanded edition” to see what extra additions to the story this novel would add.

I was fortunately satisfied with the novel and really liked all the new additions to the story. There were many new story beats for the Luke, Rey and Ben storyline which I was very pleased about as that story arc was my favourite of the film. The novel adds more depth regarding Luke’s philosophy, the force connection between Rey and Ben and many of the motivations and thoughts of the characters which made for an engaging read.

Jason Fry writes quite straightforward but is also quite descriptive, especially in his descriptions of the emotions which the characters are feeling which heightened my investment in the characters greatly. He also manages to capture the more exciting and action-packed parts of the story quite well through the use of short, quick sentences which helps give the story a real punch and impact. Overall, The Last Jedi novelisation was a great read which helped me appreciate the intricacies of the story far more and kept me quite engaged through all the many interesting and worthwhile additions to the plot.

For my second book for my wider reading, I am currently reading the novel “Looking for Alaska”. It’s a teenage coming-of-age novel which checks off the banned book category of the wider reading checklist. It’s a novel which I’ve so far really enjoyed and found to be quite relatable and heartfelt.

My Desert Island Reading List:

  1. The Hobbit

The Hobbit holds a special place in my heart as the first book I ever truly loved. From the first page, I was instantly engaged in this wondrous fantasy world where wizards, elves and evil dragons lurked about. A truly fantastic fantasy novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.

2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Out of all the brilliant Harry Potter novels, the Half-Blood Prince is easily the one that I could reread over and over again. The novel is a masterpiece of world-building, mystery and heart. It was the story that cemented my love for J.K Rowling and the characters that I still cherish to this day.

3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

An absolute cracker of a novel. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is filled with some brilliant short stories, filled with engaging mysteries, wonderful banter and it does it all in lavish style. What more could you want?

4. The Fault in Our Stars

An uplifting journey of pure emotion and heart, The Fault in Our Stars takes you on a whirlwind ride in a story that manages to be effortlessly entertaining, heartbreaking, funny and surprisingly cohesive. Every page builds on the next leading to a conclusion which tugs at your heartstrings but leaves you immensely satisfied.