Skip the screens and get lost in a summer adventure, writes
Kelly Yang
ummers are all about
travelling to faraway places.
As a child, I distinctly
remember visiting a chocolate
factory in Britain one summer. As
a teenager, I walked the Inca rope
bridge of San Luis Rey in Peru and
admired a tree that grows in Brooklyn.
Last year, I entered a lighthouse
on Janus Rock, Australia, and met
an expat living in Luxembourg. I
travelled to all these places – and
many more – by my favourite, most
relaxing, cheapest and fastest mode of
travel ... by reading.
Reading was the way I’d spent
the summer, every summer, for as
long as I could remember. It wasn’t
by choice at first – we were struggling
immigrants in the US and a holiday
was out of the question. While all
my classmates jetted off to Europe or
headed to the beach for the summer, I
vacationed the only way I knew how:
in the public library.
It turned out, though, that
the library offered the Ritz, the
mountains and the coast, all rolled
up in one! Gradually, I consumed
more and more books (while my
glasses got thicker and thicker). I
lost myself first in Roald Dahl and
Louis Sachar, and then in Charles
Dickens, F Scott Fitzgerald, JD
Salinger and George Orwell. The
library books became my friends. To
this day, I lovingly stroke the spines
of old favourites the way one greets
an old pal. And every September,
when my classmates returned looking
refreshed and tanned, I too talked of
my adventures, vividly describing the
blue-green seas of Cuba as though I
had just been there. Few ever figured
out that I never left town and only
picked up
The Old Man and the Sea
Despite those years when my
family struggled financially, my
summers were rich in a way that I
miss now. To have such freedom! No
distractions! Just a tower of books! And
all the time in the world! Oh, the bliss!
Gadgets galore
Children today are not so lucky and
they have Apple, in part, to thank for
that. The infiltration of iPads, iPods
and iPhones is reading’s greatest
enemy. A study in the UK shows that
the average teen owns more than
three gadgets. Whereas books used
to be read without interruption, now
you’re lucky if you can get through
a page without the beeping of a text
or the swiping of a screen. Books
that can be “Wikipedia-ed” or
watched are not read. Classics are
SparkNoted. Obscure titles (as in,
about vampires or wimpy kids) risk
So what?” some ask. Technology
is here to stay and “reading” these
days must and should include digital
forms, whether that’s Facebook
posts, tweets or blogs. A classmate
of mine from Harvard Law School
who works in Silicon Valley says
that he cannot read a book anymore
because his brain has been re-wired.
Working in technology all these
years, he no longer has the patience
or the willpower to last an entire
book. “Everything useful in a book
can all be said in a single Wikipedia
paragraph,” he tells me.
No, it cannot!
How can we sum up
Jo March’s frustration over being a