Reading is one of life’s great joys. It also happens to be one of the best ways to become a better student, a sophisticated writer, and a creative thinker. But with so school, homework, activities, and family obligations, how does one find the time to read? In addition to this question, you may also be asking yourself, “Don’t I read enough in school already? Why should I read even more? We’ll get to all of these questions, but let’s start with the second and third.
It is true that as a student you do quite a bit of reading in school. In addition to volume, the variety of reading content is much greater in school than most people would attempt on their own. This is because most students are required to take courses in several different subjects to satisfy graduation and college admissions requirements. The difficulty of the reading is also greater than most would attempt on their own because each grade or level of school is preparing you for another, more difficult level.
Importantly, however, the reading you do in school is incredibly focused: you read what other students read, and what you read is decided for you based on criteria dictated by the state or expected by colleges. Instead of helping you stand out, then, this type of reading makes you more like every other student, and no matter how hard you work, as long as you are working within the confines of your school reading list, you will never be able to develop a unique way of thinking. So, although you may read a lot as a student, if you are not reading on your own, you are not reading enough.
The solution is simple: read more. But how? The first step is choosing something to read that you will enjoy. Remember, our goal here is to get you to read more; if you’re already busy with schoolwork and other activities, the only way you will find the time and energy to read more is by choosing something that interests you. The options are endless—fiction, nonfiction, magazines, newspapers, blogposts—just make sure it is something you will look forward to reading. If you’re at a loss about what to read, consult best-sellers lists on Amazon and in The New York Times, or visit a local library or bookstore and browse the shelves.
After choosing something to read, the next step is making time to read. Yes, I said making time to read not finding time to read. You don’t need to read for an hour a day to reap the benefits of reading more—you just need to read more! An hour would be great, but if all you can spare is ten minutes a day, then read ten minutes a day. You can probably spare more than ten minutes, but if you are so busy that thinking about a timeframe longer than ten minutes stresses you out, budget for ten minutes and maintain that as a firm daily minimum. Then, over time, as your time management improves, you can add 5-10 minutes to that minimum weekly, biweekly, monthly—whatever works best for you. Who knows, you may even find yourself reading past the minimum on a regular basis!
In short, there are only two steps to reading more: choose something to read that you will enjoy and make the time to read it. It’s that simple. Before you know it, you will have accumulated a large amount of total reading time. This will bring improved reading comprehension, better writing, and in increased capacity for critical thinking. Reading will cease to be a burden on your free time and will instead become an activity you can actually enjoy.