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BooksRead books not required for class

Read books not required for class

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As midterms approach, stu­dents often feel like they don’t have time to do any­thing but go to classes, eat, and study – and maybe sleep, if they can fit it in.

At this point in the semester, clubs, exercise, and social­izing take con­sid­erable effort to work into schedules. One extracur­ricular that’s worth the effort, however, is reading books outside of class.

Whether it’s “The Republic” in phi­losophy or each of a dozen dif­ferent works in Great Books classes, Hillsdale stu­dents read plenty of books. 

Though we’re taught to appre­ciate the value of reading, when was  the last time you read a book for yourself?

Making time for leisure reading is both valuable and enjoyable. There is some­thing unique about reading for pleasure that sets itself apart from the hours of reading you do for class every night. 

As you pick your way through 40 pages of “The Odyssey” for class at 9 a.m. tomorrow, each page denser than the last, you aren’t really reading crit­i­cally, or looking for depth of under­standing. Unless you’re writing a paper on it, you’re looking for a surface-level take that will be suf­fi­cient to write your dis­cussion post about. Maybe you’ll even raise your hand in class and make a point or ask about some­thing arbitrary. 

Even if you would enjoy the readings under dif­ferent cir­cum­stances, there’s some­thing stressful about reading because you have to scan a text for the kind of minor details that tend to appear on quizzes, which takes nearly all the would-be joy out of it.

Leisure reading, however, is entirely dif­ferent. It’s right there in the name. Though you may not have expe­ri­enced it since middle school, reading can still be fun. You may even learn some­thing from it. 

You just have to give yourself the oppor­tunity to enjoy it again.

Devoting just 10 minutes to leisure reading before bed can make a big dif­ference. It’s the perfect oppor­tunity to take a deep breath and step away from your mountain of respon­si­bil­ities, not to mention allowing you to read books your pro­fessors would never dream of assigning in class.

It will also decrease your stress. According to a survey at the Uni­versity of Saskatchewan, many of the more than 200 health sci­ences stu­dents sur­veyed reported ben­efits such as “reduced stress, and improved thinking and com­mu­ni­cation skills.”

It may also help your grades. In the fall semester of 2020, I made sure to read five pages from a book of my choice, in this case, Raymond E. Feist’s “Shadow of a Dark Queen” before bed every night, whether I was going to sleep at 10:30 p.m. or 3 a.m. Despite taking the most credits I’ve ever had, I earned my highest GPA to date. 

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