John Essay

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I can see me, a year older, sitting inside, curled up around a book and blanket. The sun has set early, so a lamp is on, shining warm light onto the pages. A roommate is across from me reading the same book, and every couple minutes we stop to comment. I stayed up late the night before reading a different book, and though we have only just started reading this one, we are both hooked. We are discovering adventure, one page at a time.

Books are dreams captured in words: the normal dreams, the daydreams, the nightmares, the night terrors. Unlike dreams, however, books are meant to be shared, and it is here they gain their true meaning.

When a book is read, a bond forms between author and reader. The author speaks, and the reader listens as they weave together the holes the author leaves them to fill. While the author’s words may be constant, the reader is the true variable. When you have more than one reader together, you have each dimension they bring to the book . Alone, you lose them.

Many colleges review books in the form of lectures. The book has two dimensions: yours and your professor’s. However, with only two dimensions, the book becomes flat and the audience remains blind. At St. John’s, small, discussion-based classes allow the book to become an intimate truth. The book receives the attention and intensity it truly warrants, and it is in this process that it gains true meaning.

When these books deal with the greatest questions of all time, how can one be satisfied with only the stale answers? How is one to be expected to discover their meaning as an individual in a lecture hall?

Even at other colleges with small class sizes, they do not have what St. John’s has: a single curriculum. For many, this is a turnoff, but for me, this is extremely valuable. Conversations started in class can continue so that the books are not limited to class time—they are a way of life. The campus is not divided, but together.

I am not simply interested in St. John’s; I am mesmerized by it. The thought of reading forty books in class over the school year excites me. The image of being surrounded by people similar to me thrills me. The knowledge that this may be in my future invigorates me. There is not one book on its own that calls to me, but knowing they are on my horizon fills me with anticipation.

I am too used to sitting in crowded high school classes where more than half the class did not do the reading. Reading is not checking off a box or attaining a grade, but something I have chosen many times and will continue to choose for the rest of my life.

In my St. John’s story, we are not only discovering adventure, but we are uncovering meanings, dimensions, countless wonders, questions, and even some answers. The night is young, the tea is still warm, the interest is fresh. Later that night, we will still be there, night old, tea cold, but the interest will never fade. The night is loudest when at its quietest, and as I lay there, closing the last page of the book, I will fall asleep knowing tomorrow is a new day, a new adventure.

I am not simply interested by St. John’s; I am in love with it.

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