Busy College Students - Don't Give Up Reading for Pleasure!

Sometimes, it seems like our teachers, coaches, and employers conspire to assign as much work as possible. In college, this overload can take the form of reading dry, academic text after text. With friends, extracurriculars, and, of course, Netflix waiting, getting to work on these assignments is often hard enough, much less finding the left-over time to read for pleasure.


But, pleasure-reading has one advantage: you can pick the book. From The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to Twilight, there’s something both enjoyable and helpful for literally everyone. Yes, everyone.

Even the ‘trashiest’ romance novel might broaden your perspective, and perspective and interest prompt everything else. This development can work as simply as making a reader wonder what they themselves might do in a particular situation, or prompt them try to figure out what happens next in a narrative. That ‘trashy romance book’ may draw a sneer, but the truth is that anything counts. Try thinking about the types of stories, movies, or even just classes or activities you like, and then find something to read that includes them. Plus, there’s no pressure finish the book you choose by a certain deadline.


However, you might pick up a few time-saving techniques from reading for class. If truly pressed for time, it’s always a better idea to skim the thesis, main points, or conclusion than to do nothing. What you prioritize in those precious minutes guides actually completing a reading, too. Don’t get bogged down in details. It can help if you read consciously for central ideas and their main supporting elements, as well as any dates or names you need to know. Then, study backwards: what does the text want to say? How do they say it? Finally, what evidence does the author use and, as a whole, does the text function as intended? You’ll learn more—and earn brownie points with your professor—if you ask any questions you still don’t understand during discussion or in office hours.

People will always exist without the time, energy, or motivation to read. Why read, one may ask, when we can just watch things or look up our questions on Google? Here’s the big secret: everything connects. I thought my professor just wanted to provide a break when he inserted a Film and Media unit into our Literary Analysis class last year. Yet the same techniques apply across mediums to understanding a story. If anything, fine-tuning the ability to think critically about information presented in several ways strengthens one’s sub-ability for each. So, pick up a book (reminder: you can get one for free from the nearest library!), and happy reading!