The Benefits of Reading for Pleasure

With our busy work and school schedules, the days when we could pick up our favorite book series or read a book you’ve had on your shelf for years, are few and far between. With the copious amount of homework assignments and assigned reading for classes, reading for pleasure may feel like a thing of the past. However, it is essential that you find the time to still squeeze in an old favorite or a new adventure. Researchers at the National Library of New Zealand  say that reading for pleasure “improves literacy, social skills, health and learning outcomes.” It’s easy, in your downtime, to be sucked into scrolling through Instagram, playing games, or posting on Facebook (I’m guilty of spending too much time on my phone), but there are other ways to use your downtime that can be even more beneficial.

Often when we are forced to read for school, it takes away some of our love of reading. I’ve heard many people in my classes complain about having to read books that I loved reading, all because I was able to read them for pleasure, while my peers were forced to read it for a deadline and a grade. Putting that kind of pressure on reading makes it less enjoyable and takes away the ease of reading a book on your own time. Personally, I am a very slow reader. I like to take my time reading books and soaking up the story as I go. So in environments where I am assigned an entire book by a next week deadline, I panic and get a lot less out of it.

I am an English major, so don’t get me wrong when I say that I love reading for classes when we can have in-depth discussions about the text and really delve into the themes. But the time constraint stresses me out and I end up skimming a book that I would have loved taking my time on. This is why reading for pleasure is extremely important, maybe even more so in a busy schedule. Even if you can only read your book for 20 minutes before bed each day. Studies show that when people are on their phones or laptops thirty minutes before they go to sleep, they are less likely to sleep as well or as long. This is because the melatonin in our bodies cannot activate when we are facing bright screens; our bodies still think it’s day time and not time to sleep. However, it’s hugely beneficial if you can turn on a soft lamp, curl up with a fun book, and get lost in the adventure. Soon enough you’ll realize you’re tired and ready to sleep! Plus, reading provides a great stress reliever. I have a long bus commute to campus every day so I take that time to read, allowing me to start my day with a good story instead of worrying about the coming day’s events.

Reading for pleasure is so important in this fast-paced society and I would recommend everyone pick up a book and read it, just for fun!