It would be nice to think the love for reading many of us discovered as kids would last forever! But somewhere between studying for AP tests in high school and the unimaginably intense workload of college, many of us find that reading loses its initial luster. I’ll be the first to admit my enjoyment of reading did not fully return until I’d been out of college for a year or two. However, I believe it’s something that doesn’t have to be lost at all. If you feel like you lack the drive to read for pleasure during this season of heavier academic requirements, recognize it’s something you can reclaim! Here’s how:
Make it Manageable. Perhaps you were a voracious reader as a kid. Or pride yourself in being one of those people who makes reading goals like conquering entire series or reading a certain quota of books per year. While accomplishing such lofty goals may not be realistic for the life stage you’re in now, give yourself permission for your reading desires to morph into new areas. Maybe you can squeeze in some reading time while you’re on the stationary bike a few times a week. Or create a space in your schedule for a once a week “reading date” in a coffee shop or the bathtub. Ten minutes of reading time per evening is better than no reading at all, and a chapter a week eventually allows you to read entire books. Focus on quality not quantity.
Let It Look Different. Similarly, if the content of college classes feels heavy, allow yourself to indulge in some lighter reading. Try branching out into a new genre such as good, clean humor writing, poetry, a graphic novel or old-fashioned comic book. If all you have time for is snippets of reading then choose a book of short stories, pick up a magazine or follow a couple of blogs.
Accept Audio. Don’t discount the fact that listening to audiobooks is a perfectly legit form of reading, as well! There is something comforting about the cadence of a human voice reading aloud. I have a few friends who go to sleep every night listening to audiobooks. With apps like Audible and Hoopla there’s no excuse for not taking in a few novels while you multitask. So make a plan to listen on your commute to work or class, while you exercise or while cleaning your dorm or apartment.
Waste Not, Want Not. Look for times in your day or week that are essentially wasted. This especially occurs during the “in between” times—like the downtime between classes, for example. Or times of waiting—whether that’s waiting for a dentist appointment, a meeting with your advisor or a friend to show up for coffee. Get in the habit of carrying around reading material so you can put those dead moments to use!
Commit to a Community. Sometimes it just takes an extra boost of accountability to get us back into a reading mindset. If your campus doesn’t have a book club, start one! A scaled down version of this would be to ask a friend to read the same book as you and share your thoughts back and forth via texting. It doesn’t have to be highly structured, but can help you stick to your reading goals. A few people I know find an online reading community on the app Goodreads and enjoy posting ratings, recommendations and reviews of books they have read and connecting with others with similar reading tastes.
Pair with other Pleasure. If reading has truly lost all intrinsic value to you, you might try pairing it with another pleasure just to jog your memory and trigger a new response in your brain. Read outdoors in your favorite sunny patch of lawn. Read with coffee or chocolate in hand. Read because you believe in self-care and know it can be a form of healthy escape, release and relaxation. And if all else fails—give yourself grace. As was the case in my own life, your missing passion for all-things-literary is probably just a “seasonal thing” and will find its way back into your life when the time is right.