Reading for fun may be one of the most underrated and procrastinated items on your to-do list. You’ve been told it’s important, but homework, your job, or just sheer exhaustion always seem to get in the way of picking up a book. Or maybe you’ve tried it and can’t seem to get engaged in what you’re reading.
It seems that there are two main factors keeping people from reading for fun: a perceived lack of time and a real lack of an engaging book. The first factor must be addressed with determination. The second factor is more easily remedied.
Why Should You Read for Fun?
Reading Helps You Grow
But why should you consider making time to read for pleasure? If for no other reason, reading helps you grow as a person. According to Kate Stericker of the University of Waterloo, reading introduces you to fresh ideas, generates curiosity in new subjects, and develops your ability to think critically as you evaluate characters and predict plot-points. As you become intimately involved in the story of another person, even fictional, you grow in empathy for other perspectives and ways of life.
Reading Regularly Helps with the ACT or SAT Reading Section
Reading quality materials across a variety of sources will also prepare you for any reading passage or grammar question you may encounter on the SAT or ACT. The more accustomed you are to digesting texts, the easier it will be to digest these passages. As you read, you are exposed to a wider vocabulary and become less inclined to make grammatical errors. After spending hours reading properly-formatted, published works, grammar rules will begin to ingrain in your mind as “correct;” so even if you can’t exactly identify what the error is in a sentence, you’ll be able to instinctively know that something is “off.”
How to Ace the ACT Reading Section
How to Ace the SAT Reading Section
The Keys to Reading for Fun
Make Reading Part of Your Routine
One of the keys to reading for fun is making time for it. The easiest way to do this is to make reading a part of your routine. Reading right before bed is one of the most popular ways people make time to read because it has multiple benefits: you get your reading in and give your brain time to wind down after the day. But if book+bed=sleep for you, then maybe reading in the morning, or reading when you get home from school would work better. Just find what works for you, and try to stick with it.
And the thing is, you don’t have to read for hours on end to make a significant dent in your reading list; reading for 15 minutes a day can add up to 18 books completed in a year!
Reading for 15 minutes a day can add up to 18 books completed in a year.
Since the average person reads at about 300 words-per-minute or about 1 minute per page, it would take roughly 5 hours to read a 300-page book. If you split that up into 15-minute increments, you can finish that 300-page book in 20 days. Before you know it, you’re reading a book and a half each month and finally finishing all those books on your nightstand.
Find a Book You’re Excited About
But to build and stick to this new-found reading habit, you need the other key to reading for fun: a book you’re excited about. No matter what your relationship with reading has been like, there’s a book out there for you. If you don’t have a list to dig into, try asking friends for recommendations, or think about the best book you’ve ever read and try and find one that is similar.
The Olive Book’s Recommended Reading List
And here’s a tip: you don’t have to finish a book if you’re not liking it. It seems very wrong to just quit a book, and it is important to learn how to stick with challenging texts. But if the writing stinks, or it’s highly recommended but you just don’t like it, or the book doesn’t turn out to be what you were looking for….it’s ok to drop it and move on. Reading for fun should be just that: fun. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, but don’t turn reading into utter agony.
Looking for recommendations? NPR’s Fresh Air shared this infographic listing quite a few popular and classic books with their estimated reading time. According to their chart, you could plow through The Great Gatsby in about 10 days!
For more recommendations, here are a couple of book lists we thought recommended quality, diverse books:
Abe Books’ 100 (Fiction) Books to Read in a Lifetime
Strand Books Bestseller List
New York Times Bestseller List
The Olive Book’s Recommended Reading List
Magoosh’s Book List