Friday, August 12, 2016

Reading for Fun in College

Rest in Peace
Flickr Credit: Randy Robertson
As suggested, I’m trying something different today. Quite a few people were interested in hearing about my college experiences, so I’ll be responding to a question asked of me on Twitter.

Today’s question comes from Shanti at Virtually Read:

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!

Do you ever read books you learned about in school for fun? (Also, did you enjoy this feature? Would you like me to answer another question like this next time?)


13 comments :

  1. Hooray! Such a great post. I was a voracious reader during high school but during my first year of school in the United Kingdom, I noticed that my reading for fun had dropped to an ultimate low. I think I only read 2 books for fun over the course of the entire year! The problem is that I spend so much time reading for my course. Even though I am not an English major (I do History), British courses are heavily reading based. By the time I had finished all my journal article readings my eyes physically couldn't handle any more reading. This post inspired me to try and work out a plan for a bit more leisure reading this coming year. Reading for fun is a huge part of who I am. I don't want to sacrifice it for anything. I really like that you mentioned that even though you read academically for academic work, you allow yourself to drop all those habits when you go back to leisure reading.

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    1. Wow, only two? That must have been a pretty startling realization. I've taken only one history class thus far, but it was definitely among the most reading-heavy classes I've had to take, so I can definitely respect what your workload must have been! I hope you get to read a little more for leisure this coming year, though. :) If it is important to you, then I hope you can keep that part of yourself alive and well. :)

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  2. As another English major, I have to say that annotation is the most noticeable difference between reading for class and reading for fun. It's become natural for me to pull out a pen and write all over a book if it's for college. I just naturally do it, although I think it's still easier for me to do it with nonfiction than with fiction. If I get too into the story, annotating tends to slip. I can't do it at all when I read for fun. I just don't have a desire too. When other people say they do that, I'm kind of amazed in an impressed sort of way.

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    1. I can't help but agree. When it's for college, I have a better idea of what I'm looking for, too. I know that when I read fiction, I can slip too. My fiction annotations tend to be beginning-heavy. It is amazing when people always annotate, though. That's a serious ethic they have.

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  3. My reading-for-fun time took a nosedive when I started college, and I have found myself reading a lot more adult books since then. I still adore and read a bunch of children's and YA books, but I've warmed up to the adult side of things, which I never was especially interested in before. I'm not an English major, so I haven't taken any literature courses (ugh), but I have become much more of a critical reader.

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    1. *nods* I know what you mean. It's still kind of a pleasant surprise for me, though, since I never realized that I would enjoy reading adult books so much! It's great that you're working on critical reading, though. That matters no matter where your discipline lies.

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  4. This is a really interesting topic! I'm glad to hear that you still enjoy reading for fun. :-)
    -Amy

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    1. Glad you liked it! Thank you for stopping by and commenting. :)

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  5. Thanks for answering my question! YOur post is really helpful, especially because I'm considering becoming an English major (or an English half of a double major. I often read books that my teacher reccommend to me, and one of my favourite books this year, and my favourite non-fiction book ever was the End of Night, which I read for media studies last year. I agree, though-- I'll never stop loving and thinking about reading, even if I am required to to a lot of it.

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    1. You are welcome! If you ever want to have a more direct conversation about being an English major, please feel free to hit me up with more questions, because I think that might have helped me. I'm glad that you're enjoying what your teacher has recommended, and I hope that continues as you move up in your education!

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  6. I kind of miss English in high school - it always forced me to really understand what a book was trying to say - whether it's Julius Caesar or something like Bladerunner, I always came away being so impressed. I don't analyse things in that way anymore, but I would definitely love to get more into classics again - because things like The Bell Jar <3

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    1. I agree. Plus, having a teacher who knew the salient points was incredibly helpful for me, because it sometimes takes me a little while to understand what I'm looking at. But yes. Even if you aren't in high school, you can still read awesome stuff. Like the Bell Jar, obviously.

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