|Flickr Credit: Randy Robertson|
Today’s question comes from Shanti at Virtually Read:
@HeroineHiding Has being an English major changed how you read for fun?— Shanti (@VirtuallyRead) August 7, 2016
The short answer: kind of.
When it comes to leisure reading, college can influence three main things. Namely, the time I spend reading for fun, the types of books I read for fun, and how I read those texts.
The first marks the biggest change. Surprise! Being a full-time college student is very time-consuming, so I can’t read for fun as much. I still read, of course. I’m an English major, that’s what we do. We read. In fact, reading accounts for probably 70% of my homework load. Still, it can get tedious, so I do my best to keep reading for fun. That’s why I listen to audiobooks in my car, carry around a book to read before class starts, and sneak in one more chapter before I go to bed.
The types of books I read for fun hasn’t changed much. I still tend towards YA speculative fiction for my free reads, with the occasional graphic novel. Though my English classes tend toward “literary fiction,” it in no way makes me think less of my go-to fun reads. That said, we do read some amazing stuff in college, so I am more willing to pick up and enjoy texts by authors I’ve enjoyed in my classes (case in point: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath <3).
Finally, there’s the matter of how I read my fun books. To me, this means whether I read my fun books from an academic standpoint. Do I? No. Whenever I read for school or even as a personal challenge, I do one thing: annotate, annotate, annotate. I am an annotating machine. It takes longer to read things that way, but it makes me better at learning from and understanding the text. Useful… but work-intensive. That’s why I don’t do it when I’m reading for fun. I can’t kick back and relax with a pen in my hand, so I don’t and won’t.
Please note also that just because I decide not to annotate my fun books doesn’t mean they’re absent of the craft and language I’m learning to appreciate as an English major. Whether it’s The Scarlet Letter or The Twilight Saga, our books belong to our literary culture. I think you’d be silly to suggest that the books I read for fun aren’t part of that—they are. That’s part of the reason why I love them so much.
Our creativity functions because we can borrow from and bounce off of one another. Everything connects somewhere. And so while studying English influences me and thus how I read, it can’t replace the love of reading I’ve already established for myself. Give me The Great Gatsby or The Grisha Trilogy—they belong to me, regardless.
Thanks for your question, Shanti!