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Friday, April 19, 2024

Reigniting my love for reading

Are you having a hard time reading for pleasure? Here are some recommendations

 

By CLAIRE SCHAD — cfschad@ucdavis.edu 

 

As a college student, developing an unhealthy relationship with reading is easy.  Whether it is detailed research articles or seemingly never-ending textbooks, reading frequently becomes a task on my to-do list that needs to be checked off rather than a way to relax.

The significant amount of reading that is assigned weekly for my classes often makes it difficult to find the time and motivation to read for pleasure. Even though most of the texts I’m assigned are interesting and informative, the language used often requires a lot of effort to dissect. Working to understand the information while simultaneously trying to think about how it could be asked in a test question or essay prompt is far from relaxing. 

Even though I feel better about myself when I take time to read for pleasure, I sometimes have a hard time doing it. When it comes time to relax before bed, I often find myself reaching for my phone or turning on the TV.

This was not the case when I was younger: I was obsessed with reading. I’d go through phases where I’d finish an entire book in a single day. As a college student, I find myself longing for my reading-obsessed middle-school self. 

Last year, I worked to reignite my love of reading. It had been years since I actually read and finished a book that wasn’t assigned to me for a class. People also kept telling me that I must read more than I write if I ever want to become a better writer. So, given both the personal and professional benefits, I was determined to incorporate reading for pleasure into my routine. 

The first step to rekindling my love for reading was picking out books that I felt excited about. For me, this ranged from heartbreaking memoirs to light, happy romance novels and everything in between. However, I knew I wanted to read things that were far removed from the topics I was studying in school. I felt that selecting these types of books would help me separate my academic reading and my free time reading, creating some sense of a work/life reading balance. So without further ado, here are a few books that helped me rekindle my love for reading.

 

“Tell Me Everything” by Minka Kelly  

This fast-paced and inspiring memoir grabbed me from the first chapter. Telling her story of her rise to fame as a successful actress, Minka Kelly, who starred in NBC’s Friday Night Lights, details the many struggles and triumphs that have sculpted her life and career. As I made my way through this book I found myself enthralled by Kelly’s perseverance and positive mindset as she faced unthinkable obstacles while remaining determined to reach her goals. Kelly’s writing style makes you feel all her emotions through the page and by the end, I felt like I knew her as a close friend. After finishing this book in less than a week, I found myself searching for “books similar to ‘Tell Me Everything,’” but I have yet to find a memoir that is as captivating and inspiring. 

 

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins

What better way to channel your reading-obsessed middle-school self than to read the prequel to arguably the best dystopian series of all time? I’m not usually a fan of fantasy novels, but when I was younger, I couldn’t get enough of the dystopian genre. I read all The Hunger Games novels and definitely had a Hunger Games phase in middle school, so when The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes came out in 2020, I picked it up right away. In full honesty, it did end up sitting on my bookshelf for three years before I actually finished it. However, once I finally started it last fall, I couldn’t get enough. Some books just make you feel a certain way and this book instantly transformed me into my middle school self, feeling the same excitement for reading as when I read The Hunger Games for the first time. 

 

“Happy Place” by Emily Henry 

A summer romance taking place in a coastal Maine cottage, what’s not to love? After reading the back cover of this book, I knew that it would be something I would enjoy. I am a sucker for a cute romance novel and with the backdrop of coastal New England, I couldn’t wait to dive in. However, this was more than a surface-level romance, Henry was able to develop the characters in a way that made me completely and totally invested in their lives and relationships. Once I finished this book, I quickly acquired a few of Henry’s other bestselling books and enjoyed them as well. With an interesting plot and minimal effort needed to read, these books helped me jump back into reading and readopt reading as a way to relax. 

If you are also working to rekindle your long-lost love for reading, I encourage you to try some of these books. If none of these excite you think back on what excited you when you were younger, then look for similar, but maybe more mature books in the same genre. After all, that love for reading is still somewhere inside you, but you might have to work a bit to uncover it.

Written by: Claire Schad — cfschad@ucdavis.edu 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.

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