The Fine Line Between Reading for Pleasure and Reading for Education

I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to find myself picking up Homer’s The Odyssey as I do some light reading by the pool, sipping on a cocktail. Instead, I enjoy the light-hearted fiction from authors such as Sally Rooney or Sophie Kinsella as I am transported into a land of dreamy romance and page turning plots. 

The balancing act between reading for education and reading for pleasure has always been a difficult one to get right. Unfortunately, not every book worm wants to pick up their current go-to read after sieving through 600 pages of academic notes, which leave us with a scramble of words spinning around our heads at 100mph. Usually a three-hour nap sounds more inviting than a chapter or two of whatever book TikTok is recommending that month. But do not fret, there are a few simple solutions to prevent the balancing act from collapsing completely.

Doesn’t the thought of curling up in an overpriced blanket from TK Maxx, next to the window as it rains, with a book in one hand and a coffee in the other sound heavenly? Reading is always so much more enjoyable if the location looks straight out of a Tumblr blog post. Even if the weather forecast isn’t working in your favour or the blanket is slightly out of the monthly spending budget, snuggling in bed with a candle, cuppa, and book also does the trick. It is surprising how much a cosy location can drag you out of a reading slump. 

Alternatively, to the rain, the long summer break from university is a great time to catch up on all sorts of reading. Consider using this time to pick up books which you grimaced at when you were in the full swing of reading for your degree. Treat yourself to a tan and cocktail as you flick through your most anticipated summer reads. 

Surrounding yourself with people who love reading as much as you is also a great motivator to read for fun. Joining a book club with friends, family or strangers would help keep you on track to read something other than compulsory university reading. There is nothing quite as enjoyable as some friendly competition to finish a book first! 

Avoid feeling guilty about not reading as much as you would usually do. If all you can stomach that week is set reading for your degree, then at least you are still reading something! There will be plenty of time to crack on with some leisurely reading of War and Peace when you are old, frail and retired so try not to beat yourself up too much. 

It is inevitable the juggling act of reading for pleasure and education won’t always go swimmingly. Sometimes it is vital to put reading about mystical creatures, hunky millionaire men and Moby Dick on the backburner and concentrate on that compulsory reading which has been piling up. But fear not! This is only temporary! 

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Chloe Thompson

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May 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

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