Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Rediscovering reading made me a better person

Schuyler Burke

Most of us remember the grid-lined reading logs from elementary school, requiring students to read a book of their choice each day. If you were lucky, your class even offered prizes to top readers. But reading looks very different in college. 

Rather than exploring interests organically, students read textbooks catered to course requirements. Burnt out by study-time and class readings, many young adults find themselves choosing to read far less often than when they were younger. 

I fell into this reading rut when I came to UT, but, after my first year, I was able to get back into the habit. Rediscovering the magic of reading as a young adult has opened my mind to new ideas and reminded me that learning should be exciting.

New research suggests that leisure-reading can even make you a more empathetic person. When a reader becomes invested in a story, they start to consider the characters’ goals and desires. Consequently, it forces readers to slow down and listen to a narrative other than their own.

“(When you read), not only are you entertained, but it can be really relaxing to let go of your own concerns and spend some time in somebody else’s head,” said Sarah Brandt, UT’s librarian for first-year programs. 

Reading can be relaxing. In a 2009 study from the University of Sussex, reading reduced stress levels by 68%. With Gen Z’s high stress levels, it’s a no-brainer for young adults to partake in this peaceful pastime. 

On top of emotional and social benefits, reading has a positive impact on cognitive function. It’s well-established that reading makes people smarter. Simply reading for fun can improve students’ performance in class and, later on, in their career. Since I started reading everyday, I find myself to be more ambitious overall because I am thinking about the world beyond my day-to-day. 

Psychology sophomore Aubrey Clayton was raised by two teachers, so reading has always been an important part of her life. 

“It’s hard to even measure the impact because from such a young age, what we learn in school is heavily-reading based,” Clayton said. “So if you’re good at reading, you excel in other areas, too.”

In adulthood, reading proves valuable beyond the classroom, improving relationships, cognitive ability  and overall quality of life. It’s a shame that this accelerated level of learning is often lost as students grow up and move into university. Readers are better students, and they just might be better humans, too. 

Jackson is a sophomore journalism and Plan II major from Boerne, Texas.

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About the Contributor
Schuyler Burke, Illustration Coordinator
Schuyler is an Arts and Entertainment Technologies Sophomore from Austin, Texas. Currently she works as an Illustration Coordinator for the Opinion Department at the Texan. She was previously an opinion Illustrator. Schuyler loves to create and read in her free time.