From the day I acquired the skill, I have been reading. I used to devour books so voraciously that my dad would quiz me on random pages because he wasn’t sure whether I had actually read them. I read throughout elementary and middle school, and even though it was more of a challenge to read for pleasure in high school, I did, for the first couple years at least. One summer, I was complaining to a family friend that I had reached the point in my life where I never had time to read for fun due to work and study, and he told me this: “Amy, there is no such thing as not having time to read–you MAKE time to read.” Coming from a man who can read 20-something books over the course of 3 weeks, I felt confident that there was experience behind his words of wisdom.
Any seasoned college student (yes, 4 weeks counts as seasoned) will tell you that you’ll do so much reading that you will feel like your eyeballs are bleeding. The stacks of books and articles pile sky-high, and as soon as one reading is complete, another two or three slide right in and take its place. With all this course-based reading, one might question the point of reading for pleasure. Why would you want to read more?
Picture this: You sit and stare at the page, the words blurring together, forming strange shapes before refocusing. You realize that you have been stuck on the same sentence for the past 15 minutes and you still have no clue what it is about. This happens for one of two reasons: 1) you are tired, or 2) the text isn’t captivating. It is crucial, if you are a fan of reading, that you find time to read the books that you love. Reading for yourself is not a chore if it is enjoyable, and it provides time for relaxation, and for your eyeballs to stop metaphorically hemorrhaging under the strain of dry scholarly articles.
How does one make time to read during a busy college day?
1) Stay on top of your work. Yes, most classes entail a lot of reading, but if you are vigilant about doing it, and learn effective reading techniques, you will not feel ashamed about “wasting time” reading something trivial when you should be reading a 23 page article about the history of the textile industry. It is sometimes difficult to get over the “if I have time to read, I have time to do more work” idea, but it is important to give yourself a break once in a while, and get back into that mystery, memoir, or graphic novel.
2) Bring a book to breakfast. As I made clear here, I adore breakfast. The only thing that makes my favorite meal of the day better is reading. It is lovely to sit in a quiet cafeteria with a hot cup of tea, some yogurt, and a good book. If you have nobody to sit with, and no homework to scratch out before class, books are perfect breakfast companions.
3) Carry a book in your backpack. I still get to my classes at least 15 minutes early. This extra time allows me to sit on a bench outside, or at a desk provided the room is free, to decompress. Reading books of your choice is relaxing, and if you get to class as early as I do, there is nothing to do anyway. Why not spend a few moments engulfed in your favorite piece of literature?
4) Bored? I don’t think so. At the beginning of the year, we were advised to not let ourselves get bored. In other words, there should always be something to do or something to think about. Boredom implies a lack of activity. Your classes are over and you can technically retire for the day, but instead of relishing your down time, you pace back and forth, and check your Facebook thirty times, hoping for someone to text you inviting you to ‘hang out’. People relax in different ways, but I most always choose to crack open my favorite David Sedaris book, or re-read Flowers for Algernon for the hundredth time. When I run out of things to do, I spend time with my beautiful books.
5) Read before you go to sleep. After breakfast, going to bed is my favorite time of day. Getting into bed with the knowledge that for ~7 hours I can escape from the bustle of waking life is only made better when I can read until my eyelids feel heavy. If I have a difficult day, or a nagging thought that won’t leave me alone, falling asleep becomes unpleasant. However, with the power of a trusty book, I can most always forget about my hassles through becoming ensconced in different worlds and characters.
I learned how to MAKE time for reading in the midst of all kinds of dry, scholarly articles, papers, classes, and activities. Despite feeling overwhelmed with work, I have been able to spend a few minutes every day turning the creased pages of my favorite books, and I hopefully I will finish the one I am currently reading soon.
I would like to close with this unoriginal joke: “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it is too dark to read.”
Books certainly are, and always have been close, inanimate, very quiet friends to me.