As a final-year undergraduate in the throes of her very last semester here at Maynooth University, I find that free time is becoming a more precious commodity with every passing day. As my workload racks up, my list of priorities undergoes some pretty dramatic renovations. Going out and drinking my body weight in whiskey every week has become a thing of the past. Lazy coffee breaks with friends in the library are now five-minute refuel pit-stops. In my eyes, the gym is about as mythical a land as Narnia at this point, and getting eight hours of sleep per night is an oh-so-distant memory.
One things that I refuse to relegate to a back seat is reading. Now, don’t get me wrong – as an English major, my every waking moment is a litany of articles, journals, and those mercifully cheap paperback classics you find in the very back of Easons. I love reading, right down to my very bones – but reading for pleasure (in other words, picking up whatever book I fancy and having at it) is one indulgence I am determined to make time for.
I’d like to talk to you about the #SaveTheCulture initiative. If you’re a regular Facebook user, you’ve probably seen this hashtag floating around in recent statuses. #SaveTheCulture is the name that’s been given to a viral movement which requires partakers near and far to purchase a single book, mail it, and receive about thirty-six in return. Not a bad deal, eh? Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re risking reading every last book back-to-back and waking up weeks later looking – and acting – a bit like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. As I said above, however, we’re working our way into the autumn weeks of second semester. The Gollum look is coming for us no matter what we do. That being said, I would list four reasons why as many people as possible (read: YOU) should take part in the #ShareTheCulture initiative.
- We don’t read enough anymore. A preachy note to start on? Maybe. True? Definitely. Sad? Unbelievably. The fact is that college students nowadays find it easier to mindlessly indulge in a Netflix binge than put their brains to work on a novel or biography, no matter how interesting they may be. It’s no lie that TV has reached something of a golden age, and we’d be wrong not to enjoy the range of series on offer – but old-fashioned books have their merits, too. The imagination is a muscle that needs exercise just like any other. The #SaveTheCulture initiative presents us with the opportunity to whip it back into shape.
- The magic is in the unpredictability. One of the greatest selling points of the #SaveTheCulture initiative is its element of the unknown. There are no regulations or rules attached to what kind of books are sent. This means that you might wind up with a Wolfgang Mozart biography coming through your letterbox some morning, or find yourself on a long bus journey with a neo-noir crime thriller to keep you company. The #SaveTheCulture initiative takes choice out of the equation when it comes to getting new reading material – and this will take you places you never expected, teaching you things you were completely clueless about before now.
- You save a ludicrous amount of money. I’m notoriously bad at maths, but even I can tell that the numerical breakdown here totally works in your favour. Let’s say you spend a tenner on the book you plan to contribute to the initiative. Combine that with the negligible price of a stamp so that you can send it on its merry way. Now, multiply the price of the book you purchased by 36. Subtract the amount of money you’ve spent. What you’re left with is a very big number. You, my friend, have got yourself a bargain.
- Sharing culture is saving culture. The #SaveTheCulture initiative welcomes participants from all over the world. Ideally, this round will be widespread enough to link up readers on an international scale. That means that getting involved means you could very easily end up with books rooted in countries you’ve never visited, and who knows – the right book could open up a new passion in the Māori civilisation that you never expected. The craziness of everyday life can make our scope of vision narrow. It’s always good to remember that there’s a big, wide world out there, and knowledge of it sits at our fingertips.
So take a leap of faith. I promise that Netflix will still be there when you get back. If you see a Facebook friend share the post that indicates they’re participating in the #SaveTheCulture initiative, comment “I’m in” and let the process begin. You’ve got nothing to lose, and thirty-six surprises to gain.