Remembering to read outside of the classroom

Photo courtesy of Allie Ghisson of Student Publications

Ever since I was little (at least, more little than I am now in my golden college years), I knew that I had a best friend in L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.”

I wanted to be just like Anne Shirley — even if she did have red hair that she simply could not imagine away. But how many wonderful visions she could imagine!

I, too, wanted to imagine the white birches of blooming cherry blossoms as “a bride all in white with a lovely misty veil.” I, too, wanted to imagine the romance of not walking along the main road to attend to my daily errands, but along dreamy places like “Lover’s Lane and Willowmere and Violet Vale and the Birch Path.”

Anne did not just kept her fanciful visions to herself, but she shared her imagination with those around her — even if they did go unappreciated. I have yet to find a better answer to a casual “How are you?” than Anne’s solemn response of “I am well in body although considerably rumpled up in spirit, thank you, ma’am.”

What was the exact cause that turned Anne’s ever-optimistic spirit into a state of such ruffledness? “You’d be excited, too,” Anne explained, “if you were going to meet a little girl you hoped to be your bosom friend.” Even the faintest promise of opportunity could stir up such excitement for the starry-eyed tenant of Green Gables.

This same starry-eyed Anne — the one whose image of the world is so full of fancy, and the one whose spirit leaps at the chance of friendship — is not a cape-wearing crimefighter nor a wand-carrying wizard. There is nothing remarkable about this Anne besides her imagination — and there is nothing I believe to be more remarkable than that: to have the imaginative spirit to always see the world for its best, and to share that hopeful vision with others.

Throughout my formal education I have been fortunate enough to learn so much about the world: about object oriented programming, matrix transformations, carbon cycles, capital markets and more. But in no class have I learned more — nor been quite as intrigued — than in my favorite past-time of reading.

It is literature that has most shaped my vision of the world: of seeing the beauty in blossoming trees or the romance in daily experiences. It is literature that has most stirred my excitement at the promise of every opportunity. Just as the value of the practical information taught in schools should not be discounted, the wisdom found within literature should also not be discredited, as knowledge can be found from more sources than just the credits that count towards graduation.

As the semester picks up and I find myself reading mostly textbooks or assigned supplements, I know there is still more for me to learn about the world — more than could be learned from another class, or even one more book. In the words of my literary heroine Anne, “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive — it’s such an interesting world.”