‘Did we have any reading to do?’: reading habits at university

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The prospect of reading at university can be a daunting one. To some, it automatically brings to mind visions of endless piles of textbooks and late-night study sessions, trying to absorb every inch of knowledge that you can before a seminar. After all, many of us have been there, dreading the prospect of attending a seminar you know little about. Your brain immediately resorts to the sole task of skillfully avoiding any questions aimed at you.

Furthermore, with any subject studied at a degree level, there is the double-edged sword of independent studying. You are finally granted freedom from confining secondary school curriculums, researching something you are truly passionate about, yet this simultaneously demands you actually muster up the motivation to study topics outside of your comfort zone. 

I admit that Bleak House is a beast I have yet to fully conquer. After my fourth cup of coffee, the words on the page floated and rearranged to spell ‘help me’. It was clear that I’d lost the plot and things did indeed start to look bleak. Reading soon started to feel like a chore instead of something enjoyable; I felt like I no longer had the time to actually read, despite studying an English Literature degree.

But studies show that reading is good for you. There are multiple health benefits that accompany reading, with studies proving that it helps memory through stimulating your brain and impeding the development of dementia. Studies have also found that reading helps with reducing feelings of loneliness by improving self-esteem. 

There are multiple ways to ensure that you still read for your own enjoyment at university

Reading is likewise a very relaxing activity. A study by the University of Sussex has shown that reading reduces stress levels by 68%. It is perhaps unsurprising that those who read before bed not only go to sleep faster but achieve a better quality of rest, as immersing yourself in literature helps distract you from the worries of day-to-day life, helping you wind down.

There are multiple ways to ensure that you still read for your own enjoyment at university. I found it helpful to allocate time for recreational reading within my day, or at least within my week. This could either be before bed, when you find your concentration dipping from studying, or even if there is a lull within your day and you want to occupy yourself. Despite the dismay of traditionalists, audiobooks have also become an increasingly popular method of accessing literature and is a much more convenient form for some of getting your literary dose.

Variety is indeed the spice of life; it may help to try find books completely different to the works covered in your course. Try to hunt for offbeat works that you wouldn’t feel inclined to read. After all, you may find an author you love. Hopefully in doing so your love for reading will be rekindled. 

Even if you don’t immediately fall back into your love of reading, these small changes to your schedule and perspective on reading can help to reignite why you enjoyed it in the first place. 

Photo by Siora Photography via Unsplash

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