College courses offer a vast curriculum, from classic novels like Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” to physics textbooks by David Halliday and reading for pleasure often takes a back seat during a student’s undergraduate and graduate career.
With impending exams, papers and a continuously growing pile of schoolwork, reading for fun has become less of an activity and more of inconvenience.
The National Endowment for the Arts released a research study in 2007 outlining the rise and fall of America’s reading statistics. NEA found that between the ages of 18 and 24, the rate of reading books strictly for fun has seen a 12 percent decrease from 1992 to 2002, 8 percent for those between the ages of 25 and 34, and 11 percent for those between the ages of 35 to 44.
A research overview released by the National Literacy Trust emphasized the importance of reading for fun and its promotion of educational and personal development.
NLT noted reading not only improves text comprehension, but also ones grammar and writing ability. Praising readings intrinsic value, the study concluded that reading is a desirable good that should stretch to all age groups.
Kaylee Smith, a third year computer science major, identified herself as an avid reader before starting college. She says she mainly focused on fantasy and sci-fi books, but slowly worked her way through a wider range of genres like romance.
“No [college didn’t lower the incentive to read], just changed the way I read now,” Smith expressed.
Smith says taking a Women and Literature course at Wayne State introduced her to wider range of books, such as coming of age novel A House on Mango Street by Mexican American author Sandra Cisneros and the extended essay A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Wolf, an active modernist in the twentieth century.
However, throughout college life Smith says she noticed herself reading fewer novels for fun than usual and eventually shifted from physical books to audiobooks because it was easier to manage her time.
The books that were usually required for class weren’t at the top of Smith’s want-to-read list, but she says she still found them enjoyable even though they were not what she would have picked out for herself.
Smith says reading novels for class has definitely integrated her interests into a more diverse scope of novels, because she has become more consciously aware of the authors and the characters and looked deeper into their characterization.
“It’s nice to be able to read and enjoy the story for the story’s sake instead of reading for the subtext,” Smith said.
Senior English major Megan Mather says she has shaped her life around her love for books and intends to earn a library science degree.
As a voracious reader going into college, Mather read a large variety of books ranging from classical fiction to contemporary fiction and from fantasy to sci-fi.
She conveyed college has not lowered her incentive to read for fun, but not all of the required class books chosen by professors would have been ones she would have thought to read on her own.
“Sometimes there are books that are hard to get through, but often times I enjoy it just as much.” Mather said. “I’ve been introduced to different genres that I haven’t read before. Actually, I’ve even been introduced to some of my favorite books through classes.”
Mather stated the biggest difference between reading for fun and reading for school is the pressure of being constantly aware of what the book is trying to convey instead of just reading to read.
However, after being approached by adults praising her for reading, Mather refuted the stigma that millennials don’t read anymore.
“It’s silly they would say that. I work in a library and I see people of all ages reading and loving it everyday. Some people love to read and some people don’t,” she said.