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How to start reading for pleasure again after studying

Feel like studying in libraries has killed your reading for pleasure appetite? Read our tips on how to start really enjoying your reading again.

Age group: Adults, Teens
Audience: Adults, Young People

Last updated: 16 January 2020

It’s here. The day you dreamed of. Months – and often years – of studying have led to this moment. You’ve hit the "submit" button and all of a sudden… that’s it! Now what?

Having completed my university studies, I was left with the prospect of having free time, something I had dreamed of but suddenly found myself unequipped to deal with. Throughout our studies we read an assortment of texts that both engage and challenge us, but it can be that reading becomes mechanized: a necessity to enable us to write our essays and progress to the next level on a course. Having read for so long with a highlighter pen permanently in hand, switching off and reading for enjoyment again is easier said than done. However, it is possible to embrace the analytical skills you have gained during your studies and use these to your advantage. There’s a whole world of books out there and, for me, it was important to switch off, immerse myself in the fictional world and start to really enjoy reading again.

Here are a few suggestions on how to take a step back, re-adjust and start reading for fun again!

Work your way through that bucket list

When I was studying, there was no time to read anything other than the books on the course. Surrounded by an array of books every day at work, I longed to immerse myself in the novels I was hearing about from friends and the books on my shelf that were gathering dust. I decided to start a ‘reading bucket list’ of books I wanted to read once studying was over (for me, this is a shelf full of YA fiction!). Not only did this give me something to look forward to, it meant that when I started reading again I had a starting point and felt genuinely excited about the line-up that awaited me. There are still moments when I instinctively reach for the highlighter pen, but I view this as a positive and appreciate my ability to connect with the words on the page.

Create a space within which you can relax

Those books that have covered the floor of your room for the last few weeks… it’s time to put them somewhere you can’t see them! Create a space free from distraction in which you can relax – cup of tea in hand – and detach yourself from the stress of exam results. When out and about, take your book with you to read when you have a spare moment. Start to incorporate reading into your daily routine in a way that works for you.

Start your own book club

One of the many benefits of reading is that it can be an individual or a participatory experience. Miss the buzz of studying with others? Why not start a book club? Not only is this an opportunity to discuss the books you have read and to hear what others thought of them, but you also gain the collective recommendations of others and will be introduced to a variety of different books. For those missing the schedules and deadlines studying provides, a book club can provide structure and give you goals to focus on.

Try something different

My studies introduced me to a range of texts I would not have previously thought to read, opening my eyes to new genres. This is the time to explore these options further and read books outwith your comfort zone. Enjoyed that literary classic you read on your course? Now is your chance to see what else is out there. Always wanted to read a science fiction book? This is your moment to discover more. Explore the shelves of your local bookshop or look at our reading lists for inspiration. The world is your oyster!

These are just a few tips to start reading for enjoyment again and make reading a time that you relish and look forward to. After all, what better way to reward yourself for all your hard work than to immerse yourself in a good book?