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Why You Should Stop Using SparkNotes and Do the Reading


I admit it. I’m guilty of taking a peek at what good ol’ Sparks has to say about Aristotle's The Politics and I did it for good reason: I’m a tired and busy college student who needs the extra help when I can get it. Can you relate?

All of us here have read Aristotle at some point, but how many of you used Sparknotes instead of thoroughly reading through his works? How many of you have read Thucydides all the way through? I know our semesters are crammed full of classes, homework, socializing, athletics, even part-time jobs. But I think it's worth making the effort to read the classics.

For one thing, these books can make you happier. Whether it be the path to virtuous happiness taught by Nicomachean Ethics, or the realistic depiction of love in Pride and Prejudice, the principles in the classics speak to you on a deeper level. You won't experience the richness of ideas and happiness if you use Sparknotes.

This means making the time to dig deeper.

When I read Aristotle's writings all the way through, I was struck with how relevant his message was to my life today. And he didn't only leave me with food for thought. Aristotle compelled me to apply what I had read to my thinking, my behavior, and my life. I left feeling enlightened and intellectually challenged. I found immense value in searching for and finding the rich ideas embedded in the classics and can't believe how much I had missed out on by using Sparknotes for a quick, easy summary.

I had a similar experience with Pride and Prejudice. When I read this novel instead of using Sparknotes (or watching the movie!), I felt as though I had experienced a true depiction of falling in love. It's not only a love story where "guy gets girl" and they live happily ever after. We all know that this isn't practical and Jane Austen agrees. In Pride and Prejudice she cuts to the heart of romance and shows how two people might actually fall in love with each other.

My point is that the classics bring something insightful to us; they give us something we didn’t have before. They encourage us to think, to contemplate deeper ideas and to grow from them. And they make us more complete and happier beings as a result.

Give up Sparknotes. If you actually dig into these pieces, you will find, as I did, that you walk away with something you didn’t have before.


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