The textbook takeover at USD

By Sara Butler
Walking along the sidewalk to class, I look around and see students lying on the grass in front of Maher and Serra, reading between afternoon classes. However, as I get closer, I see that every one of these book titles are academic. In their hour of free time, these students are trying to catch up on their textbook reading.

As college students, we are given massive amounts of readings to do for classes. With these high expectations, we stick our heads in our textbooks and start to forget what it was like to read for fun.

Textbook reading is extremely important, and often very interesting. However, as we grow up, we often distance ourselves from the genres and authors we once loved in order to accommodate our assigned readings.

Sophomore Allyson Meyer has found it hard to find time to read for pleasure since she has been in college.

“For me, I’ve always enjoyed reading. It gives me a break from work and a chance to relax. However, it has been really hard this year to find the time to read a book” Meyer said.

According to Motoko Rich, a writer for the New York Times, this is becoming a national trend among our generation.

“These trends are concurrent with a falloff in daily pleasure reading among young people as they progress from elementary to high school, a drop that appears to continue once they enter college,” Motoko said.
David Mehegan of The Boston Globe agrees with this trend, citing that, “Almost half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 never read books for pleasure.”

Further, in a recent 2005 study, he found “almost 40 percent of college freshmen (and 35 percent of seniors) read nothing at all for pleasure, and 26 percent (28 percent of seniors) read less than one hour per week.”

While the statistics show the dramatic decrease in reading for pleasure, the source of this problem is not easily identifiable.

One reason for this decline may be the amount of textbook reading assigned to college students. After reading chapters of biology or sociology, many of us do not want to even look at another book.

Another explanation may be the increased presence of media and gadgets, including the Internet, smart phones and video games. These serve as digital distractions that discourage people from reading in their spare time.

While students may have enjoyed reading for pleasure before they came to USD, college coursework has shifted this interest to other pastimes, such as watching TV or surfing the web. These activities help us separate work from play, as reading has now become a full time job for many students.

Although it may seem like a hassle, there are many advantages to reading for pleasure.

Reading can help relax stressed out college students. The pressure of midterms, papers and projects causes many of us to feel can feel swamped at times. Reading a book you enjoy is a way to unwind and escape the world. By engrossing yourself in the characters and their lives, you can take a break from your own stress, even if it’s just for a little while.

Also, reading improves your vocabulary, which is impressive in academic papers and job interviews. You may be taken more seriously by professors, employers, and the real world.

Not only does reading for pleasure increase your vocabulary skills, it also helps you improve in other academic fields. Reading helps you think more, which makes you use your brain. It helps improve your concentration, focus and memory, which can help you on college exams.

Like your iPhone, books are easy to bring places and carry around with you. However, they are significantly cheaper. They can be a nice break from your Facebook and Instagram news feeds. If you find you are missing your electronics, try reading on a Kindle, a device that allows you to digitally store and read thousands of books.

In college, we have a lot of obligations and responsibilities. Our classes require a lot of assigned textbook readings to help us learn new concepts and better ourselves as students. However, this time commitment discourages us from reading in the little spare time we have, and we use our free moments engaged in our electronic media and digital gadgets.

Reading for pleasure should not be forgotten by college students. It offers many benefits to students, such as decreasing stress levels and improving academic skills.

Next time you finish Chapter 23 in your economics textbook, think about reaching for your favorite paperback book instead of your iPhone 5. Open up a book to remember the fun you had reading as a kid, exploring new worlds from the comfort of your own bed. You might be surprised by how much you missed reading for fun.