PHOTO | Tara Espinoza
During the school year, students are frequently bogged down with assigned readings, whether its sections in a textbook or chapters in novels. This often takes up a student’s time and capacity to read recreationally. Many studies have shown that leisure reading in the U.S. has steadily declined. The Arka Tech would like to encourage our student body to give reading for fun a chance.
Reading recreationally can relieve stress and generally make you feel happier. A study by the University of Sussex found that just six minutes of silent reading can reduce stress levels by 68 percent. Reading lets your mind slow down and focus, distracting you from anxious thoughts or situations. Several surveys have also found that people who book regularly are generally more satisfied. Reading is also known to be like a workout for your brain. Because of this, those who read more often are significantly less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life.
Reading is also a great way to improve your social life. Reading is a great starting point if you want to make new friends. Book clubs and libraries are great ways to meet new people. Books are also a great ice-breaker and conversation piece. Additionally, reading the favorite books, stories, or poems of someone you care about is a great way to learn about them and feel closer to them.
Reading is also important because it opens your mind. Books can expose you to various things you would not ordinarily be exposed to. This can be other cultures, sciences, philosophies, or the general experiences of people different from you. The more you read, the more worldly you become. The library here at Arkansas Tech has a new display each month celebrating diverse books. This is a great way to educate yourself while having fun at the same time.
If you are the kind of person who prefers movies or tv shows, we understand; however, we suggest giving reading further thought. Books are a great way to get more content from your favorite franchise. Many successful franchises expand their world through books. Even if these books aren’t canon, they are still a great way to experience more of a fictional universe. Star Wars, Doctor Who, CSI, and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer all have book series inspired by the movies or tv shows.
Additionally, some of the most successful movies in the world are based on books. If you loved Lord of the Rings or The Hunger Games, you should try reading the books. If you love horror movies, you should try reading Stephen King’s books. Even some documentaries are based on books if non-fiction is more to your taste.
We understand that reading is challenging for everyone. Things such as dyslexia and ADHD can make reading difficult. We know that sometimes after a long day, you are too tired to focus on a book. In these cases, we encourage you to explore other ways to enjoy the benefits of books. If you don’t have a lot of time to read, consider picking up a poetry book. Poems are much shorter to read and can enrich your mind without wasting too much time. Novellas are also great for the same reason. If you would like to experience stories as rich as a long series but don’t have enough time, try picking up a novella or book of short stories. These stories have the same feel as a 300-page book but are far less overwhelming. You may even find that you really enjoy it. If you are not a visual person, try an audiobook. Audiobooks are a great way to experience the benefits of reading without the struggle. You can buy audiobooks from places like Audible and find them for free from the library, youtube, and even Spotify. Audiobooks are also great to listen to while you commute, exercise, or do chores. Many modern audiobooks are read by voice actors and can feel more engaging for those who may struggle to fall into the world of a book. We also can’t go without saying that newspapers are a great source of reading material too. They are a great way to learn about the world around you, and most articles do not take up much time to read. The Arka Tech publishes short stories, opinions, and even book reviews and news. Reading newspapers or online articles from various newspapers is a great way to broaden your horizons.
A great strategy for getting into the habit of reading more is to consider downloading a book onto your phone. Most Americans spend hours and hours on social media and texting. While this may seem easier, you are using the exact same skills you use when reading a book. Moving the book to your phone may make it easier to transition from reading on social media to reading an actual book. Additionally, most people have their phones on them at all times. So, if you ever find yourself waiting or with a few minutes to spare, you can open up your book right there.
Another strategy is starting new genres. If you are convinced that you do not like reading books then it is possible you simply have not found a book that clicks with you. Try out a book of poems or an audiobook from a genre you don’t have much experience with. Try asking someone you know for suggestions. If they know you well, they may be able to suggest a book that you’ll like but that you would not have found for yourself. If you can find your niche in reading material, you may enjoy it more.
Sometimes the hardest part about reading is starting. Big books can be overwhelming. It is also easy to convince yourself that you are too tired, you don’t have enough time, or that you are just not the kind of person who reads books. However, once you get into the habit of reading, it becomes a lot easier. We encourage you to take the first step.
Most importantly, we want you to be reading for fun. College assignments can take so much of the fun out of reading that you forget you enjoy it. Try to read like you are a kid again. Find something you really enjoy and have a good time. Reap all of the benefits of reading. Even if all you read for weeks is this single newspaper editorial, it could do you a world of good.