The UOS Times
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A Book That Is Shut Is but a Block
Yoon Bo-ram Reporter  |  Park Dong-yeol Junior Reporter
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[0호] 승인 2011.10.18  
트위터 페이스북 네이버 구글

On a bench under the tree, a man is resting peacefully and reading a book. He seems to be relaxing and… However, looking closely, you will come to find out that the book is upside down and on his head. Oops! He is sleeping! How did this happen? Is a book just a simple tool which makes us sleep?

An Autumn Is a Season of Reading

People generally say “An autumn is a season of reading” when they feel the start of autumn. During this period, they may try to read more books. However, they are usually busy reading books related to their majors instead of classical and cultural literature. They know that they should read these genres to enrich their life as an university student. However, there are only a few people who are actually trying to read those kinds of books.
There is a saying. “Knowing differs from doing.” It is about actually ‘doing’ something is very important. You should do action not just knowing. There are many wise sayings that I will introduce to you about reading.

Do you know what these sayings mean? They all talk about the importance of reading. Before we inform you the reasons reading is important, we will show you a statistical data that represents our university students’ reading states.

The Number of Books University of Seoul (UOS) Students Read in One Month

In Graph 1, we can see how many books the UOS students read in one month. 45 percent of students read zero to two books in one month. 43 percent of students read three to five books in one month. 88 percent of students read the average amounts of books as like university students in Korea. Most university students in Korea read two to three books in one month and most of them read just two books in one month.
Eight percent of students read six to eight books. Additionally, only four percent of students read more than 12 books in one month. This result accurately reflects our university students’ problem. It is not just our university students’ problem. University students in Korea actually do not read more books than elementary students. More details, it is contained in the next part of article.

The UOS Students’ Preferred Book Categories

In Graph 2, we can see the UOS students’ preferences among book categories. Here, categories were made using the Korean Decimal Classification (KDC). There are ten categories; General Studies(000), Philosophy(100), Religion(200), Society Science(300), Natural Science(400), Technology Science(500), Art(600), Language(700), Literature(800), History(900). Only two percent of students preferred to read General Studies, Religion and Languages in KDC.
General Studies are about many things like computer programming, web-editing and so on while the Religion category contains many religious books like the Bible. Languages include books about many foreign languages including Spanish, Chinese and French. The second most unpopular category is Philosophy. Philosophy acounts for just four percent. In this graph, seven percent of students are in the category of History and the Art. Obviously, history contains many books about many cultures and countries while Art deal with music, art (especially drawing) and so on.
The next one is Technology Science, which had a popularity rating of eight percent. It is about many things like engineering, mechanical tools and so on. Natural Science which includes physics, chemistry and astronomy has 12 percent. The next ones are the Social Sciences which are preferred by 27 percent of students. They include studies about economics, business and so on. The most popular category is of course, Literature. It had 29 percent of students. UOS students prefer to read literature like novels, poetry.

University Students’ Reading States and Analysis

‘2008 University Students Reading State,’ released by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, clearly shows undergraduates in Korea have lack of time spending on reading. Korean undergraduates’ average time spent on reading was 15 minutes a day. This is a lousy rate regarding the fact that elementary students’ average reading time is 48 minutes. In reality, most university students are too fed up with reading books related to their majors. Even if they have time to read, they lean towards readings associated with current issues such as newspapers. It may seem that university students always carry books around, but they barely do the “actual reading.” Even if there are many university students who are aware of the fact that they need to increase their deficient amount of reading, nowadays, it is common for students to think that it is much easier to collect data through Internet than books.

The lack of reading time is a problem but an even worse thing is the lack of quality reading that university students do. The Ministry of Educational, Science and Technology (MEST) released a report about a ranking of book rentals in 30 universities. It said Korean university students tend to borrow books like fantasy novels, while it is hard to find classical literature and cultural literature. At Seoul National University (SNU), students borrowed the book, Okuda Hideo’s ‘Gong-Jung Geu-nae’ in 2008. Next, at Sogang University (SGU) students borrowed the comic, Heo Young-man’s ‘Sik-gaek’, most and at Ewha Woman University (EWU) J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ was the most borrowed book.

Contrary to that, in 2008, Harvard University students’ university book store buying lists were announced. The big difference between them and Korean university students was that many of the books were of the classical literature and cultural literature genre. The most popular were George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ ‘Crime and Punishment,’ ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’ These results show us the phenomenon of avoiding and unbalanced reading about classical and cultural literature definitely.

Korean university students said about this phenomenon, ‘I heard that we should read classical literature but it is very hard because we have to study our majors, so I do not have time to read a book for fun.’ Opposite to classical literature, they prefer to read novels like fantasy because they require less time to read than classical literature. Also, one student said, ‘I am too busy to read because I am studying English, while working a part-time job and so on. It makes it very difficult for me to read books.

To improve those reading culture of students, each university introduced diverse policies. At the College of Oriental medicine at Kyung Hee University (KHU), they make students read 20 classical literature books out of a selection of 100 and write down a note called ‘Dok-I-go (read and think).’ They also made rules that if students do not complete that, they fail. Sookmyung Women’s University (SMWU) created new courses like ‘Book Discussion in Cultural Literature,’ ‘Logic and Reasoning’ to create a better mood for reading books. Korea University (KU) and EWU also created classes, ‘Book Discussion,’ ‘Understanding Classical Literature’ and so on. Sung Kyun Kwan University (SKKU) holds classical literature book report contests for students who passed a nonscheduled admission test.

However, many have criticized these policies. They warn that they can be used just as a tool for getting good grades more than ‘real’ reading because they can fake their reports. Experts point out that awakening students as to ‘why reading is important’ must be a first step to activate their policies. Also, they say that universities have to support student meetings for book discussion and promote those activities so students can feel interested in reading books.

We have read about the real state of university reading above. Now, some of you wonder ‘why is reading important? We are too busy to read more books in our daily life.’ Some people may know why reading is important. But as the saying mentioned earlier states, knowing differs from doing. We start with the actual meaning of reading.

What Is ‘Reading?’ and Why Is ‘Reading’ Important?

Literally, reading means ‘reading a book.’ However, it is reasonable that reading means not simply ‘reading a book,’ but rather ‘creative reading that aims for the development of character through a book.’ It is important to get information mid-flow in our information oriented society. We can get information through a book, but visual media is more powerful to people than books due to developments in technology. Consequently, this makes people think that reading is less effective than watching something in action. Although visual media is indeed more powerful in delivering information than reading is, there are reasons why reading is important.

Advantages of Reading

It Aids in the Development of Language
The term ‘development of language’ does not mean that someone knows the meanings of many words. Actually, it means understanding concepts and fluently using them in one’s language. Language is developed by spoken language before a person has the ability to read. However, there are clear limits in the development of language because people who lived in ancient times used languages that were formed by their life experiences, they have trouble using language much more than their knowledge and understanding. Also languages have a temporal and spatial limit in their usage. Because of this, reading will provide an opportunity to improve their language fluency through written language. Because of the fact that written language has a lot of room for using and developing, it also makes it easier for them to resolve a spoken language’s limit.

Expanding Reader’s Experience
Reading can lead readers to a mysterious world they can never experience in their whole, mediocre lives. Also, it expands temporal and spatial limits infinitely so that it is possible for readers to have an alternate experience. There are many limits in everyone’s normal lives. However, reading can help guide people from the far past to the future. During this experience, people can talk to other people behave in new, unfamiliar ways, feel sympathy with book’s characters and understand their feelings. You can be a princess or a knight that protect and save the princess. How can you be like these characters in real life? Moreover, by reading about other societies and their different rules and cultures, readers can indirectly experience various types of life.

Developing Thinking Skills
Thinking through reading means people could be thinking calmly and internally more than usual. For this reason, some said reading a book means solitary, introspective thinking by oneself. Meanwhile, reading can be ‘an interaction between the reader and writer.’ Writers write their thoughts down in their books to express their intentions. When one reads a book, they think about the writer’s thoughts that are expressed in the book and compare their thoughts with those of the writer’s. Because of this process, readers can compile their thoughts and systemize them. In other words, they can expand and organize their personal thoughts.

Getting Information and Knowledge
These days, reading is seen as a means of getting information that has a practical value. Reading functions not only as a means of getting information but obtaining fundamental knowledge. Human beings have written their ancestor’s histories and discoveries in words. Because of their work, we depend on reading these stories to better understand our ancestors’ thoughts, facts about science, technology, history, culture and so on. Even in today’s information oriented society, reading is very important because most information is still delivered through printed journalism. Of course, it is true that visual media has grown exponentially and our society has become so technologically advanced that reading is often ignored by people these days. However, a visual media that limits visual information is volatile in that it can disappear quickly, contrary to printed journalism. Because of this limitation, visual media has trouble passing complex and highly difficult information onto people. So, it is natural for people to look for more effective tools to retain complex and highly difficult information than visual media can. And people can learn about many things from the nature of human beings, culture, life-styles to the laws of space through reading.

Entertainment and Developing a Sentiment
Of course, it also has an entertaining function through mediums like romance novels, fantasy novels, science fiction (SF) novels. If they read books, they can have fun with books’ characters or situations. And some books have an eye to entertain their readers only. However, it is true that a book is a thing what makes us more entertained. Moreover, literature can make us feel more emotion than we usually feel in our normal lives. Literature is a definite example of a writer’s realization of human life and society. Therefore, readers can experience various perspectives of human life and society first hand. By experiencing this, they are touched by a writer’s work and expand their realizations for the betterment of society.

Retaining the Value of Healing
Readers often equate their real life with the contents that they read in books through characters and situations. And they try to accomplish their personal insights by temporarily forgetting about their own emotions and negative memories. Using this theory, ‘Reading Therapy’ is used to treat patient psychologically. Reading therapy uses books to help children or adults cure their sentimental, psychological and behavioral problems developmentally and clinically. It also helps them in achieving normal developmental tasks and forming a healthy ego and value system.

How to Find Your Own Taste?

As a fair-to-middling high school student who wished to get into university, I also was just a child who never attempted to read books that much. And it is same in my university student’s life. I have to read lots of my major book more than any other books like classical and cultural literature. However, a book named “Maundy Thursday” made me shed tears. The author of this book taught me the lesson that a world beyond my life did exist and that a fictional character can actually communicate indirectly with the reader.

Since it is well-known the most beneficial part of reading a book is indirect experience, it is recommended that you should start by looking for a book that interests you the most and then choose one which offers you experiences that you cannot have in real life. The very first reason that I became interested in reading books was because of my professor who taught me the “Understandings of Literature”. The professor attracted students’ attention by telling stories of books which he read throughout the course. I was heavily influenced by the professor’s instruction so I felt that I should read the books introduced by the professor.

By sharing the ideas of the books just like the professor and I did, it will act as a stepping stone to raise reading habits. And also, looking for a specific author to start reading is another clever way to encourage reading. In my case, my friend suggested that I should read the book “His house” and I just loved that book. I ended up reading three more books written by the same author because I took that initial chance.

You might want to cut down on gossiping with friends and staring aimlessly into the distance. You can use that free time to read books. Then, you can discover your incredible concentration that you may have but you did not know about.

Autumn is the season of reading and the season of ‘high sky and stout horses.’ It is really true. We try to strengthen our brains and minds in this season. Not just in autumn, professors say that reading is as important to university students as their major. You can think reading is just about spending time studying. However, reading can be relaxing to your mind and life when you become tired from studying hard. How about reading a book that is suitable your own taste?

On a same bench under the same tree, a man is resting peacefully and reading a book. He seems to be relaxing. You get close to him, you find out he is concentrating on his book, so he does not pay attention to you. You doubt he is the same guy that was sleeping with the book on his head. Slowly, you feel that he fits in well with the autumn’s scenery.

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