By Sierra Maciorowski

Books smell like knowledge. There really is no other way to describe them. Some books are molded and worn, others project the fresh perfume of the printer, but all share the same qualities. And these qualities grant books their wholeheartedly magical appeal.

In elementary school, I spent every possible minute in the library, running my fingers along the spines of my favorite companions. When not entranced by the colors and textures of my secret worlds’ covers, I buried myself between the lines of white and black. Sometimes, I read until this world blurred- only book realities, and the characters within their pages, seemed truly real.

When real life becomes a blur, or a disaster, a love of books can gift you with new hope, or ideas for how to cope with the latest struggles in your mundane, daily life. Perhaps, you join the ranks of the British aristocracy. Perhaps, you tag along with on a voyage across the universe. Perhaps, your wordly journeys give you a worldly sense of adventure.

Unfortunately, high school takes away valuable reading time- but even school requires books, as most Amazon accounts can attest to. Without literature, there could be no education, and no society, especially since looking at history is one of the only ways to move forward. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.” With this access, we can begin to understand the world around us- and the world of the future.

A world without books would be a bleak one indeed. Picture empty bookshelves, nonexistent schools, lower literacy rates… no books, no global growth. Although many exhausted students might believe that reading is an evil, it is a necessary one. And, for many, the power of discovery outweighs even the mental and visual fatigue that come with the constant turning of pages.

Although reading can take time to truly enjoy, the struggle is always worth it. As several SA students have mentioned to me, books are an escape from reality. Moreover, spending time in a book is like going into a vacuum of learning- you truly cannot escape, once you let yourself be pulled in. Each page turned brings you further and further into the endless spiral of the bookish world, and every chapter mixes into the medley of bookish understanding.

With that in mind, try investing in a few books during your Christmas shopping. You may find that those books could change your life, or someone else’s, if you do your literary research. Or, just visit the library – and no, this is not merely a bibliophilic endorsement. Where else, after all, can you have as many lives as you want, simultaneously? Not even video games can offer so much.

In a 2012 Princeton study, only 18% of participants aged 16-17 believed that libraries were very important to their families, and that needs to change. Perhaps, if more students took advantage of the fantastically free resources available on demand in the world’s learning centers, there would be a drastic increase in the number of students moving on to higher education. And that is actually what our world needs.

Now, understandably, reading is not for everyone: some people prefer their entertainment on the TV, others through game consoles, and others through everyday adventures. But books are a gift to each of us. Every author, no matter how renowned nor ancient, thought of you as they planned their story. Because, as they know all too well, readers are their future and their friends, their audience and their muse.