When you have free time throughout your day, how do you spend it? Do you reach for a book or do you turn on Netflix? Most people, especially college students, tend to spend their free time watching TV shows and movies or scrolling through social media. I’m guilty of this as well. I’ve probably watched every series on Netflix by now, especially during the pandemic. But what does this say about reading as a hobby?
Reading as a hobby is slowly becoming obsolete. With the various forms of entertainment that are constantly becoming available, it can feel archaic. Some people associate reading with school work, making it feel more like a chore rather than a relaxing activity. Considering how the pandemic has us glued to our computer screens for online classes and assignments, reading can benefit us and improve our lives.
As we have all heard before, reading can improve your intelligence. It can strengthen your brain and build your vocabulary and comprehension. Reading also has more cathartic benefits that are important to acknowledge during this stressful time. Reading can increase empathy, reduce stress, improve your sleep and can help to relieve depression symptoms. Especially during this time of change and uncertainty, these benefits could significantly affect us. Rather than viewing reading as boring and useless, use it to your advantage. Open up a book, and maybe you can get your sleep schedule back on track.
As college students, we are constantly focused on what’s going on in our lives. From school to social media, we are almost always socially connected in some way. At the end of a long day, most of us turn on a show and absentmindedly stare at a screen. This might feel like we are shutting off our brains and escaping, but it’s just a continuation of staring at a computer screen. Paired with the constant use of computers for online school and social media, TV shows and movies prevent us from truly separating ourselves from the online realm.
Reading provides us with a chance to take a break from the online aspect of our lives and escape to somewhere else for a while. Stress reduction is something I can imagine we all need these days, and reading gives it to us in a way that can be entertaining.
A lot of students claim that reading just “isn’t their thing” or they “can’t find the right book.” This may be true. The interest in reading as a hobby doesn’t come naturally to some people. However, if you are interested in reading, whether it’s to prevent cognitive decline or expand your vocabulary, there is something for you out there. Books offer various genres, lengths and formats. There’s more out there than the book your high school teacher forced you to read that forever ruined reading for you.
As a society, I think we’ve unintentionally allowed reading to become obsolete. We’ve deemed other forms of entertainment superior and forgotten what it’s like to read a book for entertainment. This shift is partly due to the requirements surrounding reading in high schools. I think that if independent reading is more encouraged in high school, more people would be open to it as a hobby. By forcing kids to read the same books and expecting them all to read at the same pace and comprehend at the same level, the current education system stunts students’ interest in reading. It becomes difficult and boring. If the benefits of reading and reading for leisure instead of homework were more encouraged, more people would appreciate it.
A hobby should be something that makes you happy and helps you to relax. Every once in a while, bingeing a Netflix show or marathoning Harry Potter might be exactly what we need. But we shouldn’t rule out reading just because it’s now viewed as boring. You can find a book for every mood, emotion, adventure or dream you want. And even better, your brain and body will reap the benefits.
Lily Williams is a columnist for The Review. Her opinions are her own and do not represent the majority opinion of The Review’s editorial staff. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.