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This Is Why You Should Start Prioritizing Leisurely Reading

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

As an English major, I spend most of my time reading novels, textbook chapters and research articles. Unfortunately, this often leaves me with hardly any time to read books not assigned to me in class. After spending the majority of my day reading academic texts, the last thing I want to do is pick up the 300-page novel that’s just been sitting on my nightstand since the beginning of the semester.

However, the past few years have taught me that you can still read for fun despite your busy schedule. It’s all about learning how to balance and prioritize the tasks that you enjoy. For example, consider how much time you spend looking at your phone daily. If you swap your phone for a book, you would be surprised at how much reading you could get done in a day.

Reading for fun is not only enjoyable (and makes you look super cool), but it can also change your life. Here are a few important reasons why you need to start prioritizing leisurely reading this academic year.

1. It’ll give you something to look forward to every day

Have you ever finished an episode of a TV show that ends with a shocking cliffhanger? It strategically wants you to watch the next episode. Once you start reading a good book, it’ll also feel impossible to stop reading it.

Moreover, feeling like you’re actually living the thoughts and emotions of fictional characters is an incredible experience. When the real world gets too overwhelming, reading is a great way to escape it for a while (because we all need to sometimes).

2. It’ll expand your vocabulary

Reading a diverse range of books can help you add a list of new terms to your vocabulary. You can use them to impress your friends and family by casually adding big words to your conversations. Just don’t use them incorrectly, or you’ll appear pretentious (been there, done that).

3. You’ll understand yourself and the world around you better

Reading books also opens your mind to a world of different perspectives. Sometimes, in order to grow, we need to take the time to listen to the stories and experiences of others first. Reading a good book can show you what you’re truly interested in and the things that you need to work on. It might even change your original opinion about a certain topic. Growth is important!

4. It’s good for you!

Reading has way too many health benefits to count. For example, as discussed in an article published in Healthline, a study found that reading can lower heart rate, blood pressure and feelings of psychological stress just as effectively as yoga can. So, even if it may not feel like it, reading puts your brain to work.

While all of these benefits might be convincing, it can be difficult to actually become a reader. The following are a few of my tips for beginners.

1. Download apps such as Goodreads or StoryGraph to help keep track of your books and set yearly reading goals. It’s super satisfying when you mark a book as “completed” on your virtual bookshelf.

2. If you don’t feel like physically reading, try listening to an audiobook. They’re easy to use, accessible and super engaging. You can also adjust the speed if you have a preference for how slow or fast you want the reading to be.

3. Due to the pandemic and the advancement of social media, most of our attention spans have become shorter. That’s why I prefer to read books with shorter chapters in them. They keep me entertained, focused and motivated to keep reading more.

4. Join or start a book club! Nothing is more motivating than looking forward to weekly discussions with your friends.

5. Make sure to choose a book that actually caters to your interests. Don’t pick up a biography if you know that they don’t interest you. For example, if you are drawn to romance novels and enjoy sports, research some sport-themed romance novels at Indigo or visit your local bookstore. Once you know what you’re interested in, figuring out which genre you should pick up becomes a lot easier.

Finally, remember that there is no definition of the “perfect reader.” Read whatever you want! If you like cheesy romance novels, go for it, and if you like reading super dense history books, that’s great too. As long as you enjoy what you’re reading, that’s all that matters. Just don’t be one of those pretentious snobs who like to shame people for their reading preferences. 

Good luck on your reading journey! 

Claire is an English BA student at Toronto Metropolitan University. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending her free time wandering through the aisles of her local bookstore, attending concerts, and cooking new (and sometimes disappointing) recipes.