Opinions

If Someone Buys You a Book For the Holidays—Read It

Juan Trillo ‘25

Staff Writer

One of my favorite pastimes on Christmas Eve was shaking up my presents to see what was inside. And every Christmas morning I would realize what a poor guesser I was. One of the items I least expected, however, was books. Somehow though, I ended up getting a few books for Christmas every year.

As a kid, this sometimes brought about feelings of disappointment. I had a very conditional love for reading. I only enjoyed reading certain types of books—mainly those which involved action and adventure—and those were the only ones I wanted to see on Christmas morning. Many of the books I received, though, were not those which I wanted to read. So, despite my appreciation for my family’s gifting, I let those books pick up dust on our living room bookshelf.

It was difficult to satisfy my love for reading during high school, where the massive amount of work and extracurricular commitments was overwhelming (as I’m sure it was for many College of the Holy Cross students). I slowly grew out of the habit of reading for pleasure, something which I ultimately regret. In college, I have been attempting to make a more conscious effort to read books outside of my coursework. 

Last spring, I was given a book by one of my high school teachers entitled “We Are Not Ourselves” by Matthew Thomas. It tells the story of an Irish American girl, Eileen Tumulty and her journey into adulthood—work, marriage, children, and more. As the novel progresses it also highlights the experience of her husband, Ed Leary, and her son, Connell Leary.

Quite honestly, I don’t think I would have picked up this book on my own. Bad habits die hard, and because I wasn’t immediately interested in the novel, I probably would have let it serve as a paper weight. However, I trusted my teacher’s opinion that it was good, and decided to read it until the end. I am incredibly happy that I chose to do so. Through reading about the experiences of this fictional family, I have gained an extra glimpse as to how the world works. I better understand how people function and what motivates them. It has shown me new circumstances that drive people’s decision-making and how these affect their daily lives. Like any book, it gave me a more open mind—and this is the importance of reading.

Every word you read expands your brain just a little bit. Every new story that you absorb gives you more insight on the world and people. Books allow us to be more understanding human beings. In this time of intense social and political polarization, it would behoove everyone to try and understand each other a bit more. The only way we can progress as a society is if we get a better idea of where we’re all coming from. 

So, I contend that we should all make an effort to not just read more, but to read books that we may not have picked out on our own. Like “We Are Not Ourselves,” I can expect that I have lots to learn about the world through reading books that exist outside my expertise and comfort zone. So, if someone buys you a book or suggests one over the holidays—read it (especially if it doesn’t interest you).

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