Too Many Books Spoil the Plot

It’s very common for a reading slump to hit hard for many students who have been powering through copious amounts of reading related to their degree. Lifestyle and Culture Editor, Bella Davis, takes a look at the challenges she has faced whilst learning to read for pleasure again after finishing her degree.

Now that I am nearing the end of my degree, it has become apparent that I have really missed reading for pleasure, something that I had previously relished. For me, the transition back towards reading for enjoyment has been genuinely difficult.

Having been an arts student, I have done more than my fair share of reading over the last three years. Having to read the equivalent of one or two novels a week in academic reading, not to mention any secondary material, is undoubtedly extremely taxing. It’s not hard to see why there is a steep decline in reading for pleasure amongst degree students who instead seek out Netflix to switch their brain off to at the end of a long day. As a result, I have always been easy on myself when it came to the holidays and the last thing I wanted to do was make myself read yet another book. Even when I did read books for fun, I often found I would not enjoy them as much as I used to. I found myself asking the question: was I just in a reading slump or was I reading a ‘meh’ book?

It is important to ask yourself this question when you are failing to enjoy a book. Most people have had a reading slump at some point in their life, but many pass this off as a fault of the books they are reading. I would personally feel this about works that I just could not engage with, even when the literature was in fact great. I was just fizzled out from reading too many books for my degree. When talking to a few friends about the subject I found, much to my relief, I was most certainly not alone. It seems the only way to rationalise this problem is to compare the mental test of completing your degree to running a marathon. You are physically drained, tired and in desperate need of some hard-earned rest. After completing three years at university, that is exactly how your body and mind feel.

It is okay to find the transition difficult, especially when you have been agonising over the same 12,000 words for weeks on end and reading copious amounts of books with the same subject matter. All you need is a change in scenery; a gripping fiction or compelling non-fiction. After completing my dissertation, my brain shut down and I could not get it back in gear. I hoped for a blissful reading experience that would awaken my love for reading again where I would hurtle through my reading list at an alarming rate like I used to.  But, instead, my mind rejected the idea of reading books after the first few minutes, and my eyes would gaze longingly at my laptop where Netflix awaited with open arms screaming for a new series to be binge-watched.

As the end of third year looms, I have compiled a list of five books I have been patiently waiting to read to break myself out of the post-degree reading slump and learn to love reading again. For the curious readers out there who are wondering, at the top of my long list of books to read at the moment are: How To Stop Time by Matt Haig, Upstate by James Wood , The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan, Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith and Unreasonable Behaviour by Don McCullin. I’ve chosen these books due to their varying formats and tones, as I hope one of the styles will coax me back into enjoyment. The important thing to remember is that books will always be there, and it is essential to take time to recover after finishing your course. So, whenever you feel ready to go back to reading, take the plunge and start reading for fun again.