As another school year begins winding down and the Hilltop again begins the finals crunch, student anxiety becomes an unmistakable undercurrent of university life.

Partial salvation, however, can be found in a familiar but estranged source – the oft-forgotten love of fiction. Despite their hectic schedules, students should consider setting aside some time in the next few weeks to rediscover literature and poetry, thereby enriching their intellectual lives and finding emotional solace and joy in the beauty unique to the written word.

Fiction bridges the gap between exhausting mental labor and mind-numbing and irrelevant distractions in a way that no other pursuit can. In particular, difficult class readings are distinctly different from the imaginative and emotive capacities of well-written prose, which can help ease the burden of life’s many stressors. As H. P. Lovecraft poetically wrote, literature has the ability to “weave gossamer ladders of escape from the galling tyranny of time, space and natural law.”

There is no denying that this is a critical time in the academic calendar. In this context, the idea of engaging with literature outside of class easily appears to be imprudent. If one were to invest time in the written word, surely 150 pages of comparative government reading assignments should take priority. In reality, however, students will engage with Netflix and Facebook before reading for pleasure — this is where the true imprudence lies.

A widespread belief on the Hilltop perpetuates the idea that a student’s time should be divided neatly between the grind-like struggle of academic perfection and the equally passionate pursuit of mental disengagement during free time. This situation is antithetical to the goals of cura personalis and represents a modern failure to understand that a flourishing life requires diverse intellectual passions.

Through fiction, one may escape all the constraints that seem to be omnipresent as finals bear down. Many Georgetown students experienced an upbringing filled with literature that presented lands beyond time, scenes without limit and magic that transcended the familiar. At this point in the semester with an unending amount of workload, what could possibly be more attractive?

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