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Submitted by Marika Christofides on Mon, 05/14/2012 - 1:51am
With summer approaching, many of us have started to acquire unrealistically massive reading lists. If you’re like me, the list serves more as a fantasy than a goal. You’ll probably get through about one eighth of the list if you’re lucky - not surprising considering that the list includes items like “all of Dostoyevsky.” But why relegate the pleasure of reading to some far-off summertime when you have inexplicably acquired the ability to read a book every minute and sunlight dapples your favorite reading spot round the clock? Carleton classics professor Clara Hardy and Carleton Educational Studies professor Anita Chikkatur have created a way to enjoy reading, *gasp*, during the school/work week!
The idea for the event was planted when Clara heard an NPR story about a protest in Tunisia where protestors sat in the street and read. The protest was to mark the lifting of a ban on protests on one of Tunisia’s most symbolic streets, Habib Bourgiba – the original ban had been placed because street vendors complained that they were losing business.
"I was intrigued, but puzzled," she said.
“I posted it on facebook because I thought it was really interesting, but I also didn’t get it,” said Clara. “Anita commented and said it seemed like they were making a political point. There had been all of this coverage of the political violence, and they wanted to say ‘look at our culture.’”
Anita and Clara got to thinking about sustained silent reading, a program that many k-12 schools in the Northfield area do to encourage students to read for fun. One of the names for the event is DEAR time (drop everything and read),” and even the principal is compelled to do just that for a certain amount of time.
“We just thought it would be kind of cool to have something like this at Carleton,” said Clara. “So we said, ‘ok, let’s just pick a time and do it.’”
The event, called “Campus wide DEAR time,” will be held on Thursday, May 17th during common time. The hope is to create a flash mob of readers on the bald spot (or the Weitz Center for Creativity, weather not permitting). People in the wider Northfield community are more than welcome to join in and kick back on their lunch breaks.
“People can come for 5 minutes or stay for the whole time. They can read anything they want to read as long as it’s not required,” says Clara. “We require the non-requirement.”
Anita and Clara stated that many of their colleagues feel that students don’t read for pleasure because other outlets for information, like blogs or news websites, take up most of their free time. Often the prospect of picking up another book after completing 50 pages of assigned reading can be daunting. Still, most students have fond memories of losing themselves in the latest installment of Captain Underpants or A Series of Unfortunate Events. Reading for fun seems like something of a lost art, but it’s one that most of us would love to re-learn.
“At least in my life I think that reading particularly fiction has been so important to expanding my world and finding resonances,” recalled Anita. “When I was 11 or 12 my brother was reading The Outsiders. On the outside the story had nothing to do with my life. But I read that book every single year until college. It can be so powerful.”
“I also feel like it’s partly an excuse for me to read fiction during the work day,” she added.
So drop everything (unless it’s heavy in which case please set it down gently in order to avoid injuries), grab whatever book floats your boat and head to the bald spot this Thursday from noon to 1:00 to indulge in some pleasure reading! Those who take notes or highlight passages will be disqualified.