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How to Start Reading Again: Advice From A UCLA Student Trying To Beat Her Spring Reading Goals

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

Whether you haven’t read a book since middle school or you’re looking to beat your 2022 Reading Challenge on GoodReads, this article is for you! These are some tips for building reading into your routine, so you can read more (even on a college student’s busy schedule):

Check out physical books from your local public library branch!

Browsing books in a physical collection can really expand your literary taste. The Westwood Branch library is a bit of a walk from campus, but it has a great selection of new and classic books! I fully recommend heading down to the branch in person to set up a library card. For access to the library’s e-resources, including e-books and audiobooks, you can also register for an e-card through the library’s website. Pro tip: if you’re living in the dorms and their website won’t accept your building as a Los Angeles address, you can log onto the UCLA Housing website to get a proof of address to show to a librarian at the circulation desk! 

My favorite feature of the Westwood Branch Library is the “Hot Off the Press” shelf, which is a rolling shelf full of new and trending titles available to be checked out for up to a week at a time. You can choose up to two books from this shelf, which is located just past the second-floor entrance to the library, in front of the circulation desk. Be warned: keeping books past their due dates will place a hold on your account so that you can no longer hold or check out new books. Don’t worry about racking up fines because these will all be forgiven as long as you have not lost any materials that you need to pay to replace. I also recommend checking out the fiction shelves located at the far left wall of the library. Their collection is huge, and I’ve found some great reads just by picking up whatever titles speak to me! 

Read an author’s collected works

After finishing a heart-wrenching book, it can be hard to leave the story behind and start a new book. Instead of stalling and falling into a reading slump, a cheat code I use to move onto new narratives is to read other books by the same author. Not only have I found even better books and expanded my reading list this way, but I’ve also started to pick up on what writing styles and themes I really connect to.

The best part about reading multiple books by the same author is recognizing patterns in the themes and perspectives they write from. A misconception I used to have was that authors had to be well-endowed in life experiences to be able to write books from so many outside perspectives. In reality, many authors design their characters as an extension of themselves, often using inspiration from their own (sometimes unexciting) lives to bring their stories to life. Once you read enough from a single author, you start to feel like an expert that can pick up on easter eggs throughout their work. 

Use the Libby app to instantly download new books

Libby is a free app that allows you to check out e-books and audiobooks using a registered library card. You can use a card from your home library, get a LAPL card or do both (like I did) to have access to an even wider selection. You can place a hold on up to 25 books at a time and borrow just as many. You can choose to check out a book for 7, 14 or 21 days, with limits placed on new or in-demand titles.

My pro tip is to filter your search results to the “available now” category to get a list of popular books that you can download straight away. I love the immediate rush of borrowing a new book and instantly being able to read it on my Kindle, and Libby allows you to download their books to your device by logging into Amazon. Don’t worry if you don’t have a Kindle because you can still download the app and access any books that are added to your Amazon account!

Find a time in the day when reading doesn’t feel like a chore

It’s never a good idea to start a new book when you’re already feeling burned out. After classes, all I want to do is take a nap or watch something that takes absolutely no brain power. I know that, if I allocate all of my reading time to the middle of the day, I probably won’t even get through a single book by the time the quarter is over.

What works best for me is reading in the mornings. Making a hot cup of coffee and reading a book has become a staple of my morning routine, and it has improved my mental health and given me something to look forward to every day. I won’t lie and say that I get a ton of reading done all the time — sometimes I’m not in the mood and I’d really rather check my daily Twitter digest than pick up a book. But this routine gives me a grace period to rest and relax before a busy day, with the bonus of increasing my reading output. 

Additionally, reading before bed is a great alternative to doom-scrolling social media. I personally find it hard to put down my phone if I start using it in bed, so I usually try to keep it across the room (with the added benefit of making it harder to snooze my alarms in the morning). Reading at night can help you sleep better, and (depending on your roommate situation) can be a perfect opportunity for a quiet and focused reading space. 

Follow the hype
Riley Keough and Sam Claflin in Daisy Jones and the Six
Lacey Terrell / Prime Video

Hey, we don’t always have to be unique. Trends are popular for a reason! Sometimes the best way to get invested in a new hobby is to surround yourself with people who also are into the same thing. That can mean joining social media communities like Book-Tok that are setting trends in bookshelves around the world.

Popular movies and TV series that are adapted from books are also a way to get yourself invested in a new series. Daisy Jones & The Six is a trending new limited series available for streaming on Prime, based on the popular book by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The Hunger Games series is also facing a resurgence in popularity on TikTok, and I will forever recommend these books as a fantastic and nuanced trilogy. 

Kickstart your reading with a short book

You don’t have to start your reading list with Crime and Punishment, especially when you know you tend to lose steam in the middle of a long book. If you’re getting back into reading after a long hiatus, starting off with a short book can be a great way to boost your reading self-esteem and motivate yourself to continue reading as a true hobby. Though short stories aren’t really my thing, they can be a great way to get a taste of literature in a more bite-sized format. 

Some of my favorite books with less than 200 pages include most work by Kurt Vonnegut, Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, and Heaven by Mike Kawakami

Many of us have fallen off the reading bandwagon at some point, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of! There are so many ways for us to access books as college students, such as checking out our campus libraries or applying for a free Los Angeles Public Library card. Reading can be a relaxing and fulfilling activity and I hope that these tips help you rediscover your love for books. 

Elyse is a San Francisco native and third-year majoring in Linguistics and Computer Science at UCLA. Ask her about herself so she can tell you way too much!