GP Model Essays – Books & Media

Looking for JC General Paper model essays on book and media?   Have you been trying to write full length answers for this GP topic, but has difficulties finding good real-life examples to apply for Books and Media, or you cannot find good quotes to go along with your GP essay answer?


Here, we have several model essay for this GP topic on Books & Media. Feel free to use it for your on General Paper tutorials in school. Also, bookmark us, so that you can return to us easily. (For all essay answers on Mass media, visit here.)


Q1: From your own experience, how would you define the pleasures of reading?

When I was young, one of my hobbies was reading. Whenever I had the time, I would climb onto a comfort able sofa and read. My reading diet, then, consisted of books by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and Noel Streatfield. When I read, I would be totally oblivious to the rest of the world, having been transported by my books to other places: a chocolate factory, a ballet school and circuses. As I grew older, I graduated to poetry and plays, Poetry especially appealed to me – I am always fascinated at how ideas of great magnitude can be effectively conveyed in such concise pieces of writing. Through these years, I have always derived enormous amounts of pleasure from reading.


Reading is extremely pleasurable as firstly, it provides intellectual stimulation to the readers. This is unlike the television or the radio, where information provided can he absorbed only passively by people, as no time is al lowed for reflection. Reading various different books has provoked me to think of social, religious and scientific issues. Arthur Miller’s “After The Fall” has made me reflect on communism. In the play, the main character is persecuted for being a communist and his struggle to cope with condemnations of being evil, as he is a communist, and his genuine belief in communism make me rethink my prejudiced view of communists as cold-blooded and cruel, power-hungry people. I saw that some communists could have truly believed in the ideology and it was their compassion for the under trodden.   Another book, Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” has posed many religious questions to me. As a Chris tian, I feel that the book has caused me to think of whether my waiting for the Messiah’s return is as futile as that of the two main characters in the play. Such a question has benefited me as after exploring this question, my belief in God has been strengthened.


Secondly, reading allows me to escape from my troubles and problems by forgetting these through comic relief and involvement in my reading. Thus, this provides me with a way of coping with stress and loneliness. Reading thrillers and horror stories in particular, helps me to escape from the monotony of life. When I read horror stories, I easily get involved in the stories, due to the feelings of fear I experience on reading such stories. Such emotional involvement makes me feel that I am really encountering what is happening in the stories. One example is Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” in which 1, in reading it, seemed to be in the same room as the lunatic, observing his murdering the old man. Thrillers normally do not have such an effect on me, but Jeffrey Archer’s “A Matter of Honour” was so intriguing that. I became entirely caught up in the events of the story and forgot everything round me.   Thirdly, one of the joys of reading is that it furnishes me with knowledge. This is not in reference only to non fiction but also to fiction. From my books, I have learnt about social issues, history, science, politics and even about survival. “Whispers” by Belva Plain has highlighted the problem of wife-battering. Through this novel, I realise that wife-bashers need not be blue-collar drunkards but also highly paid executives who still love their wives. I also saw the difficulties for a woman to leave her husband for this reason, the most important difficulty being that of love on the woman’s part for the husband still.


I learnt also about the history of China from 1909 to 1978 through Jung Chang’s “Wild Swans” and in particular, the political structure of the government after 1949 and the atrocities Mao Ze Dong committed i indirectly, to secure his own position as dictator. In addition, I acquired knowledge of the British political system by perusing Jeffrey Archer’s “First Among Equals” and was s exposed to a stark prediction of what would happen to the world if a nuclear war occurred, in John Wyndham’s “Chrysalids”. Through a story set during the Revolutionary War, “The Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell, I discovered how the American Indians lived their lives in the past.


Fourthly, reading is pleasurable as it helps me to be better able to relate to people. In reading, we are taught to understand the sufferings and problems other people have, which we may never have the opportunity to experience in our real life. For example, Wilfred Owen’s war poems like “Disabled” and “Dulce et decorum est” help us to realize the feelings of futility people feel towards the war and the psychological and physical damage done to soldiers in combat. Another example is “Grapes of Wrath” (John Steinbeck), a story set in the 1930s, in America, which revolves around a family from Oklahoma who migrated to California for employment. The story exposes us to poor-paying jobs, great poverty, the need to struggle and fight with others to survive and disdain shown by the rich, towards the poor.


In studying any book, we would feel for different characters differently, either sympathising, empathising or having antipathy towards them. This aids us in relating to the people around us as when we read more, our sympathy becomes more easily evoked and thus, in real life, we are also able to feel more easily for others. Extreme, evil characters also assist us in tolerating people who are unpleasant as one compares the latter with the former.   The fifth reason why reading is so pleasurable is be cause reading encourages imagination and creativity. One example is John Wyndham’s “Chocky” which urges us to imagine a world where aliens can enter one’s minds to educate us. In this novel, Wyndham provides creative rea sons as to why aliens would want to occupy an earth ling’s brain and refreshing alternatives to conventional ways of doing things.


Undeniably, not all the books published would give us such pleasures in reading. Some novels have a weak plot, incredible characters and situations and worse of all, are written simply to pander to the baser instincts in mankind: sex and violence. This is notwithstanding the fact that such books do provide readers with some kind of satisfaction, though this is different from the kinds of satisfaction received from reading other kinds of literature. Yet, this kind of pleasure is one which we can do without as it does not benefit us in any other way except for a fleeting moment of delight.   To reiterate, reading does bring tremendous amounts of enjoyment, yet not all the enjoyment elicited from reading may be of the positive kind. The world of books offers endless hours of positive, pleasant and varied amusement to people who can read with ease. Let us strive to get the most out of our readings.



GP tutor’s comments; bring in fresher examples, such as Harry Potter, The Hunger games, The Expanse, etc. (This GP model essay on Books & Media represents an-going thought about whether books, especially hard copy books would no -longer stay in print, and go extinct.)


Q2: “A good book is a good friend.” How far do you agree?

“A good book is a good friend”, but just what makes a good book or a good friend? I feel that, regardless of whether Joseph Conrad or Enid Blyton wrote it, a good book is one which fulfils the role of a good friend. A good friend is one who can build one up, give support, give advice, someone who is fun to be with and, of course, available when I need them. With these points in mind, I shall illustrate how good books can fulfil these roles and hence be good friends.   A good book can build a person up mentally, spiritually, morally or psychologically.


Books like encyclopedias or the numerous academic books by archaeologists or physicists, like Stephen Hawking’s “Black Holes and the Universe”, can broaden our minds’ horizons and give us sometimes a brand new perspective on the world. The book acts much like a good friend telling us about things we would not normally concern ourselves with, such as astrophysics. Other books both factual and fiction can build us up spiritually or morally. The Bible teaches many universal values such as love and tolerance. Isaac Asimov too explores certain moral issues, often through robots and their adventures. Piers Anthony does the same too, especially in his “Incarnations of Immortality” series. The books act as a friend discussing his or her views about certain subjects and in the process we pick up moral values which we feel are good for us. Psychologically, books can prepare us with the knowledge of situations or problems we have never come across. When we read about such issues, which Paul Zindel likes to write about in books such as “Excuse Me, You’re Stepping On My Eye ball”, we think about what we would do in such situations with our father or girlfriends. It is quite like listening to a friend talk about his or her problems.   Books can be a great source of support when we are depressed. Many people I know read humorous books to cheer themselves up. Many religious people look to their scriptures for spiritual help and divine assurance.


Personally, I often feel much better after reading a witty book. Authors like David Eddings have very amusing characters, who never fail to bring a smile to my face when I feel depressed. The Bible, too, is a great source of spiritual support when I have problems. All these books take the place of friends who may not be there to help and give us support in times of personal emotional or spiritual difficulties. Books can be fun to be with. There are many books written deliberately to amuse, like comic books. Other authors are exceedingly good at making everyday issues sound funny in different perspectives, like Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole series, which is funny but at the same time fulfils a more serious role. Local examples are the “Teenage Textbook” and “Teenage Workbook.”


These books become friends who tell us jokes or funny incidents like our real friends do in can teens. One good and reliable thing about books is that they are truly friends who are always there for you, unless you misplace them. Once we read a book and it affects. us, we can always go back to it for whatever experience it has given us, whether it is assurance, guidance or in formation. Books are always willing and ready, which our real human friends cannot be and cannot be expected to be, realistically. I know my “Teenage Textbook” is standing on my bookshelf waiting for me to open it for an enjoyable time; I know my Bible is in my bag always within reach when I need it.


This attribute of books qualifies them as really good friends.   As I have shown, books can carry out the major roles of a good friend. But nevertheless we must not rely on books alone and never bother to mix socially. This, in effect, hakes books bad friends, as a good friend will never try to dominate all of our time and attention.


Perhaps if more people realize what good friends books can be, they will find that they are not as lonely as they think. After all many things in the books are actually the author’s own experiences and thoughts. We can hear the author’s voice. Even though we are unlikely ever to meet them surely the thought that somebody else in the world could easily be a friend should comfort a lot of lonely people.



Q3: Why read when you can watch a film?

True, there are many reasons why this is a valid question. After all, films, in the form of television and video. films or an actual cinema film are more popular than the good old paperback. Just as there are many types of books, there are many types of films: action, love and romance, comedies, serious artistic dramas and even pornography. Whatever is available in book form, can be found in film. form. So why do we still practise the seemingly archaic, time-consuming and eye-straining task of reading a three hundred page book?


Let us look at films first. There must be many reasons films should replace books. One of the most obvious rea sons is affordability and accessibility. Films are readily available via television which is common in most developed countries. Cinemas are quite common and tickets reasonably cheap. A cinema ticket in Singapore costs only six dollars compared to at least ten dollars for a secondhand book of equivalent content, and usually at least sixteen dollars for a new one. It is therefore easier and cheaper to watch the same story or documentary at home on television or at the cinema. This is a very convincing advantage films have over books in our modern and economy conscious world.


Films, many would claim, are more entertaining be cause of the visual and audio experience. We may cringe and clutch a horror novel tighter at its climax but nobody. screams while reading a book as they do in the cinema with its brilliantly vivid and large images as well as sur round sound system.   In addition, films are easy to watch, enjoy and immerse oneself in. A thirteen-year-old can readily appreciate the romance as well as sadness of a film version of “Romeo and Juliet.” But push the book, even one with editing and notes like our dear literature text, to a fifteen year old in secondary three, and he or she will have trouble trying to follow the language alone!


Furthermore, watching films can be an enjoyable social event. A group of friends or family can enjoy each other’s company while laughing their way through Jim Carey’s “Ace Ventura.” But a book can at most, and usually irritatingly, be read by three.   It would seem that there is no point in trying to justify reading in the midst of overwhelming factors on the side of watching films. But that is not the case. Books can be read just about anywhere dry and well lit. But films cannot be watched without some form of mechanical device, be it the cathode ray tube or thirty five millimetre projector. Books are usually quite light and handy. Carrying them by hand, inside a pocket or bag are all equally convenient.


They can fill up empty periods of time on the bus or train or simply while waiting for friends. There are few restrictions on time and place.   We can take our time reading a book and do not have to keep up with the frantic pace of some crazy scriptwriter who is trying to squeeze a thousand page story into two and a half hours. One can relax on a favourite couch, a drink and titbits by one’s side while leisurely flipping through a book, rereading when one cannot understand the first time. This is not quite possible with a movie that is not on tape. Take our eyes off and, oh no, missed some thing crucial. Life is frantic enough, and books can help us relax. We do not need stress in our leisure too!


Many books can be just as entertaining as films in their own way. An Omnimax movie may be breathtaking but the beauty of a perfect sunrise in a photography book. leaves a lasting and deeper impression. Jim Carey, Stephen Chow and other comedians may be funny but are often senseless or witless. Many good books give a good laugh with brilliantly witty lines. Also, there is no way anybody can make a film entitled “1001 Greats Jokes”!   We must also know that a book is rarely translated completely to a film. Just take the very successful “For est Gump”, the film was excellent but deviated quite a bit from the book. Nowhere in the original book did Gump go running cross continent for three years. Often, it takes. the original book to give us a full understanding of the story. No actor can give us as clear a look into the thoughts of the character as the words of the author can.


Due to the completeness of the original book, it can be more enthralling, more captivating than the film. Sometimes, the loud sounds and bright colours over whelm the scenes so much that all that is meaningful is lost. But a book is quiet; the only sound is our inner reading voice and imagined sounds running with the story. Reading can be an intimate thing between the reader and the story and its character. Characters from many good books I have read still feel so real to me even after reading them a long time ago. Few films can achieve this rapport.


Reading, in addition, cultivates us in ways no films can. It improves our language skills and appreciation of words. I would not be able to write half as well if not for my voracious reading, and many friends feel similarly. Films are loud, forceful and bright. Books can be all that yet gentle and refined. Books make us think too, and use our imaginations.   I love books and reading. They have done more good for me than all the films I have watched and I have watched quite a lot. Books were the building blocks of our civilisation and should watching ever replace reading, the end of human intelligence and civilisation will be nigh.



Note: For this H1 GP model essay on books, note that, for some, especially the blind, Braille allows better reading and enjoyment, then films. Sometimes, we prefer to use own imagination, than the images movies gave us. (Visit here for more model essays on other media types)


Q4: Discuss the benefits of keeping a diary.

Someone once told me, “If you want to know a per son, just read her diary and you will know anything and everything about her.” I cannot disagree with that statement for I have kept my own personal diary for more. than a decade. And believe me, if someone did get hold of it, he or she would know me better than anyone else, and better than I would want to be known!


The main benefit of keeping a personal diary is that we can reveal our deepest and truest feeling towards something or somebody. There are certain things in life that cannot be shared with even our closest friends and that is when we tend to turn to our faithful old diary. Writing in my diary has lightened lots of burdens that I have faced throughout my life. When I am unsure about my feelings, I write them down. When I am ready to make my decision, I just have to sit and read whatever I have written. From that alone, I normally come to make up my mind, and most of the time I have been right. I re member the time when I was fifteen, and I had a major crush on a guy in my school.


My diary used to be filled with stories of him doing this and that. And when he noticed me, he asked me to be his steady girlfriend. That night, I sat and read my diary and realised that my feeings were still very superficial and I told him to give me some time. He did not. Today, he has broken many hearts and I am truly glad that mine is not one of them.   A personal diary also has made me realise how much I have grown throughout the years. Albums only give pictures, but my diary gives me feelings. Sometimes, when I sit back and read my diary, I can laugh non-stop. or even cry. When was nine, my cat died and according to my diary, I cried so much that my page was all smudged with tears. I thought I was going to die from sorrow, but I lived. When I left home for the first time to stay in a hostel when I was thirteen, again, every day my pages were filled with “Homesick…I hate school…I hate life.”


After living there for five years, today, I truly miss my second home so very much. During my teenage years, three quarters of my diary was filled with crushes I had. Two weeks ago when I sat down and counted them, there were fifty eight of them! And just imagine…99% did not respond! Reaching adulthood, I have got over that stage in life and I can see that things have changed tremendously throughout the years, and so have I, thanks to my diary.   My personal diary has also made me learn to accept my flaws and sharpen my talents. I was born with the bones of my foot different from those of people around me, and this has caused me to walk in a funny way. My parents took me for physiotheraphy but it did not make it completely normal, though it did improve. People used to make fun of the way I walked, saying I walked like a duck-and some of them still do. I used to write in my diary, saying, “I don’t understand why God has to do this to me” and tearfully pity myself. Then one day when I was sixteen, I started reading my old diary and some thing came to my mind whenever I read those episodes. l realised that there are many people without legs and hands, and all I have is a little crooked leg which functions perfectly. Why was I so ungrateful? From that day, I stopped blaming God and started to take the initiative to walk straight. My mother says I have improved tremendously – and thanks again to my diary.


I am confessing a great sin I did once, I read my mother’s diary two years ago… and believe me, I still feel so guilty about it though nobody knows. But that diary made me love her more than anything else in the whole, wide universe. My father passed away around three years ago and she kept a diary as her means of communication with him. I truly did not know she loved him so much and she was going through such deep sorrow though she put on such a brave face outside – for us she said. She felt that her only reasons for living now were for me and my sisters and nothing in the world would make her leave us, because of him. From just those few pages that I read, I learned how great a mother’s love is and how much greater it is for her husband. My mother was surprised at the change she saw in me after that I have been a wonderful daughter to her since, though she does not really know why. And when I get married, I want to be like her… and I owe it to a personal diary book, not mine in this case!   People have often wondered how I can stick to writing in my diary booklet because they say that they can only keep it up for a few days.


I’ve had small diaries and big ones, plain and coloured ones, thick and thin ones, which have just been like my life. My diaries have always been my best friends, my most personal confidants. They have in deed gone through the best and worst times of my life with me. What I tell those people is, “stick to your diary and it will stick with you, and you’ll know why I never stop keeping one!”



GP tutor’s notes: This question can be modified to be an online dairy, such as web journal, web log (aka blog, blogging, etc.)   More Model Essays for General Paper on other media types here: Music | Film or Movies | Art


Links to other GP model essays on other topics: The Arts | Philosophy | “Repeated Trends” | Science & Technology | “Singapore” | Global & regional Issues | Economics Issues | Politics | Religion | Mass Media |

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