Why you should read for pleasure

Tarek Zaher

Reading for pleasure is a better predictor of a child’s future success than their parents’ financial status and education level. Despite this, fewer and fewer people are reading in general. College students should take the lead in reversing this trend.

Reading for pleasure, or voluntary reading, can be defined as reading that is freely chosen or that students enthusiastically continue after it is assigned. It can be Harry Potter or Friedrich Nietzsche. It can last for five minutes or several hours. It can, if given the chance, make you a better person.

If you’re a student, getting high grades is probably one of your top priorities. Reading for pleasure in your free time can help you enjoy the required readings for your classes, which has huge implications for your academic success. The Growing Independence Report found that students who loved reading had higher test scores in cognitive and social competencies, math, reading and logical problem-solving.

Being able to read for pleasure makes you a stronger and more motivated student.

There’s more to life than getting good grades though. Lecturer Erik Dempsey said that books, especially the great ones, “open up questions that we need to answer as human beings.”

They give you access to, as Dempsey said, “the thoughts of somebody who is far wiser and who sees things far clearer than you do.”

You should read like it matters, because it does. The message or wisdom an author tries to convey might be a direct answer to a problem you’ve been unable to solve yourself. Many people simply don’t want to go through the effort, though.

“(Reading) does not come naturally … it’s very much an acquired skill,” Dempsey said. “It’s not just one skill, because authors write in a different way.” So if you’ve had trouble enjoying reading in the past, try a different kind of book.

If you want something entertaining, fiction books would be a great introduction to just how enjoyable reading can be — ”The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho is one of my personal favorites. If you’re interested in the meaning of life and the true definition of happiness, countless philosophical books await such as Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon.” And if you’re thinking of how impossible it would be to find the time to read, there are books like David Allen’s infamous “Getting Things Done” that could teach you simple ways to live a more productive life

The amount of people who watch television and use the internet to fill their time is increasing drastically. These distractions make us less engaged students. They also prevent us from paying attention to the most important and fundamental questions of life. “Reading books,” Dempsey said, “is the best corrective I know for that.”

Zaher is a government and European thought sophomore from Hudson.