Picking up a book is a hard thing to do during the semester. With all your labs, essays, and tests, where’s the time to simply read for fun?
The thing is, there is always time to read. It’s worth it to try and find it. Here are some tips to get you flipping through some pages this year.
Tip 1: Getting back in the game
If it’s been a while since you’ve read for fun, it might be helpful to actually spend some time at a library.
Being in a relaxed and comfortable space allows you to be attentive as you flip through the first few pages of some books and take the time to find something you like. And do take your time. Sit back on one of those colourful, comfy lounge chairs and enjoy.
Tip 2: Set aside reading time
There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to even finish required course readings, so why set aside time to read just for pleasure?
In a 2009 study from the University of Sussex, researchers found that reading can lower stress levels by 68 per cent. In the study, volunteers went through a variety of exercises and tests that raised their stress levels and heart rate. Afterword they tried a number of different relaxation methods (e.g. listening to music, taking a walk). Just six minutes of reading reduced the volunteers’ heart rate and eased their muscle tension. If you don’t already have a de-stress activity, reading might just do the trick.
To set aside time, try reading just before bed, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Not only might it help you go to sleep, but you’ll feel so much more accomplished after reading a chapter of a novel than after watching an hour-long episode of Call the Midwife. To get into the habit of it, leave your book right beside your bed, so you don’t have an excuse not to pick it up.
Tip 3: Two books at a time
After seeing the list of books you need to buy at the beginning of each semester, you might find yourself starting to hate reading itself. To avoid this contempt of reading, try keeping one book by your side that’s outside of your mandatory list, just so you feel like everything you’re reading isn’t solely for school. Try to find something outside of the genres you’re reading for your classes.
While you’re drudging through Plato’s The Republic by day, having something like The Da Vinci Code to also read by night can be a nice reminder that you have a life and interests outside of school.
Tip 4: Read what you love
A lot of people see “pleasure reading” as unimportant or unproductive. If I’m going to read a book outside of the syllabi of all my classes, I should at least read some kind of best-seller or major prize winner. There are so many books in the world and so little time to read. Why waste it reading a cheesy, romance paperback?
This way of thinking is counterproductive. If you’re determined to read only canonical literature, you’re bound to get stuck starting several classics that bore you in the first few chapters, and that you eventually put down halfway through. Also, you could be missing out on great work by authors who are under-recognized by Western critics.
At the end of the day, reading of any kind is better for your mind and health than binge-watching the last season of Grey’s Anatomy (yes, that show’s still on). Not only is reading a tool to de-stress, it also allows you to do doing something fulfilling and brain-stimulating outside of school.
So, go ahead and pull out that 400-page adventure novel that’s been sitting on your desk for months. Crack it open every night. Read a few pages at a time. Whether it takes you a month or a year to finish it, you won’t regret a minute you spend.