My reading renaissance

by Grace Fontes

College is undeniably a busy time. With the constant influx of assignments, exams and social obligations, it can become difficult to even find a few free hours in the day. This means that frequently, hobbies we once loved fall by the wayside. This was definitely true for me. When I was younger, I absolutely adored reading, to the point where my childhood punishments were not time-outs but rather having my books held hostage. I loved getting to travel to faraway worlds while just sitting at home. Reading remained a hobby of mine throughout elementary, middle and high school, and naturally, I expected it to continue when I arrived for my first year at UCLA. However, I should have realized that my formerly favorite hobby was more logistically challenging than before. Though high school was reasonably busy with extracurriculars and academics, I still found time to read whenever I was free. But my free time became filled with late-night adventures with my roommates, trips to Powell and the occasional nap when necessary. I realized that my once beloved hobby did not have a place in my new life as a college student. But the longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve been able to fit reading back into my life — and with the holidays approaching, you can too.

My first limiting factor was time, which I know many fellow Bruins can relate to. With my regular course load, part-time job and social life, I had to ensure all of my time was used in the best way possible. But after taking a step back, I realized that one thing took up a large amount of my downtime: my phone, specifically TikTok, which took up a whopping two and a half hours of my day on average. These wasted hours primarily occurred first thing in the morning and right before bed, and by noticing this pattern, I could free up the time to bring back my formerly favorite hobby. And though as an English major I am constantly reading for classes, reading for fun allowed me to unwind and escape from everyday stressors. Additionally, the approaching holiday break provides the perfect opportunity for reading.

My second limiting factor was expenses, considering that even paperbacks now cost 13 to 15 dollars. Considering that I was able to finish a book in a few weeks, that cost would be unsustainable to maintain on a college student’s budget. But there are ways to combat the costs of this hobby, such as utilizing Powell Library. Though many students assume that the library can only be used to gain access to academic books needed for classes, this is not the case. They have a multitude of popular and modern books available. Even if these books are not immediately available at Powell, they can be requested from other UC Libraries, which increases the options even more.

My third limiting factor was space. I lived on campus in one of UCLA’s dorms for two years, sharing my space with two other students. Therefore, there was a lack of room for a growing book collection, to the point that I even had to send some of the books I brought with me back home. I was faced with the question of how to continue a hobby that I quite literally did not have room for. But the answer was right in my hand. I could access as many books as I wanted without sacrificing my space through apps such as Kindle, Apple Books and Libby (which you can link to your local library for free). This past year, I purchased a Kindle, which allowed me to focus more on what I was reading without the distractions I usually have on my phone. And with holidays just around the corner, e-readers can make a great last-minute gift.

Not only is it a great hobby, but reading is also extremely beneficial for your health and mind. It can help reduce stress, which is great for college students. It also helps keep your brain sharp and exercised, and it can even aid in improving your memory. With all of these health benefits, adding reading into your daily life can help you flourish. And hopefully, my advice can help you kickstart your own reading renaissance.

Featured Image Photographed by Eliza Loventhal/BruinLife.

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