Reading for pleasure has become somewhat of a novelty nowadays, and part of the reason for this is the myriad of other forms of entertainment that have come to exist. Of course it would be incorrect to say that nobody reads for pleasure anymore, but the amount of people who still do on a regular basis has definitely declined over the years and this is especially the case in some of the younger generations.
Since arriving at Drexel University, there have been numerous times where I have asked a fellow college student the question, “When was the last time you read a novel for your own enjoyment?” On almost every occasion I would receive a blank stare or a shrug in response. Seeing that this is the reality of times in which I live is especially painful for me because my whole career and passion revolves around crafting and creating stories in the forms of books. Personally, I’ve always seen the cause for people’s lack of reading to come from other forms of media like television and movies.
One possibility as to why television and movies are so much more popular than books is because they are a passive activity just like most other visual media. It doesn’t require all too much effort on the viewer’s part to sit in front of a screen and pay attention to what is happening on said screen. Reading a book on the other hand is an active activity, and it naturally engages the reader. Now, by no means am I saying that television can’t be engaging. There have been plenty of movies and TV shows that have engaged me completely and have done just as good a job as some of the best novels that I have read. However, despite both forms of media being able to reach the same level of engagement, visual media seems to be much more accessible.
The lack of reading for pleasure among the majority of people my age and in college astonished me at first, but this was before I really took into account what college students spend a lot of their time doing outside of classes — assigned reading. They read almost nonstop from the textbooks that classes so often require them to purchase and most of the time the stuff that they are required to read from those textbooks isn’t what I would classify as light reading. Trying to wrap your head around new concepts and definitions in a philosophy class can be rather draining. It’s logical to assume that after completing these readings, most people aren’t going to want to sit down with a novel for fun. Going back to binge watching some series on Netflix is what ends up happening the majority of the time.
Despite having to do a lot of school-related reading, there are still plenty of opportunities during the day to read, and you should be at least making an effort to do some pleasure reading several times a week if not daily. Just like how exercise is good for your body, reading is good for your brain and can help increase your vocabulary, memory, analytical thinking and improve your writing capabilities for those college essays. Of course all of these things can be gained from reading a textbook for a class, but it’s much more enjoyable to acquire them from reading something that you personally find fun and entertaining.
Reading is also an extremely relaxing activity that can help reduce stress in some instances. I have experienced this myself by reading novels before and after taking an exam. Doing this really helps calm the nerves before you take the exam and it also keeps you from worrying about how you did after you’ve finished. It forces you to hold still and be quiet, unless you read aloud of course, but even then, it can still have the same effect.
You don’t have to buy a big novel or anything with a lot of material. Some of the best stories are short and sweet like “Of Mice and Men.” Besides, you probably won’t be getting through any large books or lengthy series if you’re in college, especially if you have classes that are reading intensive.
At the end of the day, reading isn’t the most popular form of entertainment out there as it’s overshadowed by other media. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked because there are a number of benefits to reading regularly, and it also doesn’t hurt to take a break from memorizing bits and pieces of information from a textbook and reading a well-crafted story every once in awhile.