“You mean to tell me that there are
still people on campus with the time to read for fun?” my
friend questioned, after he saw me reading a book that wasn’t
assigned for class.

Laura Wong

Unfortunately with deadlines, assignments, projects, working and
the ever-pressing “need” to party with our friends
consuming most of our time, many students don’t even consider
free reading an option anymore. Reading for fun is something that
takes a little bit of effort and is all too often shoved aside for
the much easier, albeit less rewarding, TV show or videogame.

This isn’t to say that one shouldn’t watch a show or
play a game, as both activities can be fun and entertaining,
I’m simply saying that it can be a much more rewarding
activity if you choose what you read based on what you like. There
is something in reading about a character, as opposed to watching
one, that makes things more personal. An author has the ability to
do a good deal more than the average television network producer or
director can. As corny as it sounds, they stimulate your
imagination, and that is one of the reasons they are more
successful. It is also true that good books almost always have
better plots than your average show or game. There is a much larger
selection of material in print than on television or in the gaming
industry.

The key to transforming reading from a chore into a relaxing and
stimulating activity is to choose books based on your interests.
Simply because a story is on a bestseller list or considered a
classic doesn’t necessarily make it right for you. Just as
there is a difference between PBS and FOX, book genres cater to
diverse tastes. Political exposés on the Bush
administration, graphic romance novels and how-to books on
unlocking your inner chi represent varied literary inclinations
that are widely read. Unless you want it to be, reading
doesn’t have to be about learning something. A story should
transport you to a place that makes you recall things you’ve
been through and feel what you’ve never experienced.

There are a lot of students who want to free read but simply
cannot find the time in their packed schedule to make it work. It
takes some planning, but reading a book, doing schoolwork and
having a social life can co-exist.

The first rule is to bring the book to most of the places you
go. Throwing it in your bag on the way out is an easy way to
integrate this. Then, whenever you are a little early to class,
riding the bus to North Campus or simply in a boring lecture,
you’ll have an interesting way to pass the time. You can also
read before you go to sleep. While you may not be cognizant enough
to make it through notes that will be on the final, you can at
least enjoy a book.

Another option is to buy books on CD and listen to them anywhere
you feel comfortable donning the headphones. Unfortunately, they
only have very popular books in this format, and purchasing the
audio can get expensive. Libraries, however, are offering a growing
selection of books on disc, making them more accessible to
everyone.

Still not convinced it is possible to read and be a student at
the same time? Then wait to take advantage of the summer to grab a
cold drink and a good book. If nothing else, use your free time
during the summer and over breaks to get into a rewarding habit.
Reading relaxes and can help relieve the tension from a stressful
day. With a good book, you can escape whenever you want, to go to
class or being strapped for cash.

 

— Melissa thinks that books in general deserve five
stars and would love to discuss the ending to “Beyond the
Highland Mist.” She can be contacted at
“mailto:goghrun@umich.edu”>goghrun@umich.edu.

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