Do you have memories of reading books that bored you to sleep? Chances are your high school days involved a stack of textbooks, filled with long explanations of dry subjects. You read just enough to get you through the quizzes and tests. As soon as you moved onto the next chapter, your memory of the previous ones vanished like a deleted text message. Now, in college, the pattern repeats. Only now you fork out hundreds of dollars to purchase the dreaded books for your courses. It doesn’t seem fair.
Why does school take all the fun out of reading?
Ever since I was little, I loved reading. Some of my best memories involved going to the local children’s library with my mom and feeling so excited to get my hands on the newest Junie B. Jones book. For me, reading was a way to escape the real world. I would get wrapped up in a fast-paced story and find comfort in the characters and plot twists.
These feelings continued in elementary school. The library became a place to explore and be a kid. I loved how cozy everything looked, and especially how it smelled. I would dive into stories about a magic tree house, a tricky mystery or a fun group of friends.
Even in middle school I carried around two books everywhere I went: one would be a required book for class and the other book was one I chose for the pure enjoyment of it. Between classes I loved to sneak in reading little parts of a chapter from my favorite book; the story always waited for me to continue.
Then I hit high school. Reading for pleasure felt nearly impossible because homework took hours to finish every night, and I received a pile of tedious books to read for my English Lit classes. Remember Fahrenheit 451 and Dante’s Inferno? I could barely get through to the next page without getting distracted by something else. I’m sure you can relate.
Now in college, I realize how much I miss reading. I miss staying up late just to find out what happens next in the book. I miss getting so invested in a story that it’s all I think about. I miss reaching the last page and wishing it wouldn’t end. Reading is a passion of mine, yet I barely do it. In complete honesty, I’ve only read one short book for pleasure since coming to Pennsylvania State University in August.
But that’s going to change.
I will not let college courses, or anything else, get in the way of doing something I love. And neither should you. If you love books but struggle to find the time, keep trying. Yes, it’s difficult. I get easily sucked into the appeal of a nice Netflix binge in bed. But when you finally pick up a good book, you will realize it is the ultimate way to unwind and forget about that frustrating group project.
Maybe you’ve never cared much for books. Some people have this rigid opinion of books, thinking that they are boring and a waste of time. However, I’ll suggest this possibility: You haven’t found the right one. The different types of books will boggle the mind—ranging from cute contemporary to science fiction to dystopian to memoirs, you name it.
According to Google, almost 130 million published books exist in the world. It’s safe to say everyone can find at least a book or two that they like. It only takes finding one book to begin a lifelong love of reading, because it will lead you to another and another.
Perhaps you’re skeptical and would rather grab the TV remote. Before you turn on a rerun of Friends, just know that books offer something that no TV show can. Books let you decide what the characters look like and their tone of voice. You get to picture the setting in your head. It’s a completely different and unique experience because the story truly becomes yours.
Yes, college puts plenty of obstacles between you and a good read. With clubs, classes and social activities, it can feel impossible to even find the time for sleep. But free time does exist. I urge you to occasionally reach for a book instead of your cell phone or laptop or whatever else consumes your attention.
Find a book that interests you, that makes you feel something: humor, sadness, fear, surprise, happiness, inspiration or whatever. Shut off the outside world for a bit, and enter a whole new one. I promise it will be worth it in the end.