Home Arts To read, or not to read: that is the question

To read, or not to read: that is the question

by Tiffany Lafleur September 24, 2013
To read, or not to read: that is the question

Cheers, to any and all students that have ever felt their textbooks could be better used as doorstops or timber for a fire.

Although the temptation to call it quits when faced with piles of essays on classical literature can sometimes be almost too much to bear, there are many proven benefits to hitting the books.

According to a review of literature by Sharon Murphy, “[reading] leads to self-understanding, to expanding our social world, and to developing our relationships.”

Commissioned by the National Reading Campaign, the review outlined the cognitive, cultural, personal and societal benefits of reading in its 67-page report, published last April.

Murphy, who has a PhD in educational psychology, goes on to write, “It isn’t surprising then that [reading] would also be associated with improved well-being, particularly with respect to psychological health.”

University is hectic, busy, and overwhelming at the best of times. However, a well read mind is better able to appreciate different and oftentimes challenging points of view. It can help broaden our perceptions and develop our critical thinking, which is what university is all about.

In an analysis published in Times Higher Education, researchers averaged out the study times from students attending various universities in the UK. Although many variations were observed for different programs and different institutions, the study found that on average, architecture, building and planning students studied nearly 40 hours a week. Those studying communication and documentation averaged around 23 hours of studying. With the amount of time the average university student spends reading textbooks and academic articles, can a case really be made for carving out additional time to read for pleasure?

In a document put together by the Department of Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota, researchers found that, “the amount of time devoted to reading has a positive impact on several aspects of reading achievement.” Among other things, the study noted that students who read a mere 15 extra minutes per day improved their vocabulary as well as overall reading speed.

If one to were to choose to ignore research and statistics, consider this: for a brief moment, we get to voyage through the mind of the author and relish in new perspectives and thought processes. Whether it be a work of fiction or a bibliography or even a bad teen novel, there’s always something to take away from curling up and reading. It’s the frustration when your favorite character dies (Game of Thrones, anyone?) or the exultation when the couple that were not so secretly in love finally end up together. For a fleeting moment, we are not only involved in the story, but active participants.

Related Articles