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All proficiency in writing, both the assumed and the stated sort, is learned. An example: there is no inheritance behind my words, no justification nor natural propensity for rambling into a word processor or scratching a ballpoint in between college-rules lines. No — to be able to write is to be able to borrow. To borrow, you have to read. 

Voracious and vicarious reading as an elementary schooler seems like a universal experience of those my age. These shared memories almost echo one another: cool afternoons spent on some scratchy classroom carpet or leaning into a firm plastic chair, propping open one of the Warrior Cats or Harry Potter or The Magic Treehouse with your thumb, silence save a ticking clock that you couldn’t yet decipher.

Then we all got old, I guess. 

I don’t read as often now (much to my younger self’s dismay), though I haven’t outright stopped, either. Frankly — I read when I have the time to, but also when I want to. A fundamental caveat of reading frequently is enjoying reading in of itself. While I do claim that there is a book, or more generally a genre of books suited to everyone’s individual palette, I also recognize that many just don’t enjoy reading. And, well, I don’t like sports, so I rarely turn on ESPN or find myself in the student section. 

I could drivel out the classic diatribes for you, adopt the over-repeated advice lists into this article. Fortunately, I’ve chosen instead to proffer to you what actually worked and left me with a dog-eared book in my backpack every single day. Maybe you, too, can develop a superiority complex over your bookishness. This is but a natural consequence of reading more, unfortunately, but you receive it in tandem with a re-awakened (or newfound) love.

  1. Read what you enjoy, not what others tell you to enjoy. 

In all honesty, I love the classics. I could hunch over a copy of “Grapes of Wrath” or “Moby Dick” (but never anything from Hemingway, whom I cannot stand) for hours on end without getting up once to fulfill my basic needs. In spite of this, I absolutely despise when I am told I must read the classics, that I must familiarize myself with the literary canon. As is the tendency of mankind, nobody enjoys being told what to do. You must apply the same rhetoric to your new reading habit. Do choose a book based on its cover. Choose a book that a person on Tiktok recommended, or choose a book because it’s cheap, but ultimately choose a book because you want to read it. I love the “Twilight” saga. I think it’s great. Regardless of its’ “literary merit,” I read “Twilight” because I want to. If you, too, want to read “Twilight, then read it.

  1. Set realistic goals for yourself.

The way to create more time to read is by prioritizing it. You cannot give yourself more hours in the day to let reading tag along with all of your other tasks and hobbies. In lieu of this, do not over-prioritize reading. You should, ultimately, read for pleasure.. Just as you wouldn’t favor playing a video game over spending time with your partner or family, you can plan to read more often but not at the expense of much more valuable ways to spend time. Burn-out is symptomatic of over-reading. You won’t read much at all if you’ve exhausted yourself turning pages all day. Read what you want, when you want, and never more than that.

  1. Embrace the aesthetic.

Alright, listen. Dark Academia is here to stay. Tartan skirts and turtlenecks, sweaters and slacks, all of these articles are signifiers that you are very cool and intelligent. Every time I wear a pair of Oxford shoes or a button up shirt, my confidence improves by approximately a million percent. I feel studious, which in turn leads to more reading. If your outfit is not complete without a book in hand, then you have no choice but to pack one. While this point is generally in jest, I do think that feeling like you should love reading does inspire you to actually read. You certainly don’t need to change your wardrobe and this advice can be incorporated into the more feasible: simply find beauty in books.

  1. Stay local (and inexpensive). 

Books, especially newer prints or hardback editions, are expensive as hell. On one hand, it might seem the most prim to buy that shiny holo-foiled “Song of Achilles” displayed at Barnes and Noble, that way you are supporting the author and all those who benefit from the sale of the book. While it is quite… noble, to shop at Barnes and Noble, it is also very unrealistic. I encourage you to visit a library, or a used book store. My favorite library in Boulder is the NoBo Corner Library, and my favorite used book store is The Bookworm. Borrowing or thrifting books is the easiest way to indulge without overspending. I would similarly advise you to donate any books you no longer want or read to these aforementioned locations — support your local book community!

  1. Distinguish leisure and work. 

Chances are, you read for class. You likely read for multiple classes: those long mis-printed PDFs or maybe a textbook, the words so dull they might as well be saying nothing at all. While I would emphasize that reading for class is important for your academic progression, I also would like to make it clear that there is a distinction between leisurely reading and reading for work purposes. Reading does not have to be a chore. It does not have to be boring or mindless. Reading can, in actuality, be an escape from the mundane. I love to read a great book after reading a long political theory paper. 

It is no daunting task to read more. Simply, you just have to do it. I won’t even tell you to commit to doing it, as reading in any capacity is far better than not. There are millions of books in the world. I know I will never read all of them, and for a while, this discouraged me. I couldn’t find a justifiable reason to read because I knew I would always be missing a masterpiece — that I could never keep up. I have since adopted a new perspective: I will miss a lot of amazing works, but I will also read some of them. Reading is an activity that I love and I think that everyone has room to love reading, too.

Sydney McKenzie

CU Boulder '24

Sydney is a second year student studying political science. She loves coffee, but not even half as much as she loves to debate with friends.
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