By Claire Van Zee | Reporter
As a student, making time to read a book for fun often isn’t at the top of anyone’s to-do list. Considering the number of exams, projects and papers students are responsible for, struggling to find time to read is understandable.
However, there are many scientific studies that prove that those who do make time to read, benefit in many ways. One of those ways being a direct increase in empathy, according to a review titled “Fiction: Simulation of Social Words,” by Keith Oatley, cognitive psychologist and emeritus professor at the University of Toronto.
In C.S. Lewis’ 1961 book titled “An Experiment in Criticism,” he explains literature’s ability to expand our view of one another, and relinquish the imagination.
“Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality,” Lewis said. “There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad of eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”
Oatley said people who read fiction improve their understanding of others.
“Comprehension of stories shares areas of brain activation with the processing of understanding other people,” Oatley said. In other words, reading fiction helps people to view the world from another person’s perspective.
In 2007, The National Endowment for the Arts published a research report titled “To Read or Not to Read,” providing an overview of American reading at the time.
“Ultimately, reading skills and early habits of leisure reading may come to occupy the same relationship to artistic, cultural, and civic progress as ‘basic science’ skills have had to technological breakthroughs,” the research report said.
While in college, during that massive transition between adolescence and adulthood, students are creating habits that will inevitably shape them in the future. Taking time to read now, will help to shape your mind and, according to the data, help you to understand and empathize with others.
So, what are a few practical tips on how to fit reading into a busy student schedule?
Houston junior Jordan Dobbs manages to fit reading for leisure into her full work load and extracurricular activities.
If you would like to read more, try finding something you’re really interested in, and then just allocate a chapter a day, Dobbs said.
“The last time I read leisurely was during recruitment week when I was reading ‘Little Women.’ I was so exhausted, but I kept telling myself ‘one more chapter, one more chapter.’ And then I would end up getting so focused on the book, that I would spend hours reading. I got it done within the week because I set aside a little goal for myself,” Dobbs said.
According to Dobbs, leisurely reading is about getting out of your head and going into a different world.
“It is really one of the best ways to release and cope with stress. Obviously don’t read to avoid homework, but if you’re stressed, put everything aside, read a chapter, get out of your head, and then go back to everything else,” Dobbs said.
Colusa, Calif. senior Ann Kalisuch fits reading into her busy schedule of school and working at Fabled Bookstore & Cafe, by allocating the time she would typically spend scrolling her phone to pick up a book.
“Sometimes, when I’m trying to get a break, and I know I’m just going to be scrolling through my phone, I’d rather just read 10 pages. If you just do a little bit at a time, it will start to add up,” Kalisuch said.
In terms of choosing a book, Kalisuch suggests asking people for their recommendations, especially if you have someone in your life with similar taste.
If that’s not the case for you, check out the list below of 10 books created by Waco’s independent bookstore, Fabled Bookshop & Cafe, for students in 2020.
With each book, is a “shelf talker” written by a Fabled employee, explaining a book they really enjoyed or that they believe is up-and-coming.
Fabled book buyer, Elizabeth Barnhill, selected the books specifically with Baylor students in mind.
In the store, there are many shelf talkers that cover a variety of tastes and Fabled employees would be happy to assist people find something they’re interested in, Barnhill said.
Fabled’s Top 10 Books to Read as a Student for 2020
The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
“I adored this book! This is a fictionalized tale of Languoreth, a real queen in sixth century Scotland. She was the twin sister of the man who inspired Merlin in the King Arthur tales. Part love story, part kingdom building. I was hooked on page one.” (Historical Fiction)
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
“Attorney Bryan Stevenson educated and enlightened readers on the true accounts of inequality in the criminal justice system. Eye opening and shocking, full of redemption and intentionally unsettling, this book is a winner. If you loved The New Jim Crow.” *Soon to be a movie* (Nonfiction, Memoir)
City of Thieves by David Benioff
“A fantastic story written by one of the directors of Game of Thrones! He based it on stories of his grandfather. Bundle up for this chilly Russian adventure.” (Historical Fiction)
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
“One of my favorite books of the year! This book has a little of everything: a love story, deep, but unlikely friendships, danger, heartbreak, and humor, all with the backdrop of a fascinating time in American history. You won’t be disappointed.” (Historical Fiction)
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
“I loved this book! Two childhood friends are estranged because of a scandal. Years later, one of the friends asks the other for help. Her husband is being vetted for high political office but he has a secret. His twins from a previous marriage catch on fire when they are angry. Help is needed to hide them from the world.” (Magical Realism, Fiction)
Iron House by John Hart
“John Hart has quickly become one of my favorite authors! The Iron House is deeply atmospheric and haunting. I simply couldn’t put it down. Read them all, but start with this! If you loved Greg Iles or John Grisham.” (Mystery, Thriller)
Rush by Lisa Patton
“A surprisingly deep novel told from 3 women’s perspectives. A mother whose daughter is going through rush at Old Miss, a girl wanting to join a sorority, and a maid at a sorority house. I love the relationships the maid, Pearl, forms. If you loved Beautiful Story.” (Contemporary Fiction)
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
“Highly entertaining and unique story of Perveen Mistry, one of the first female lawyers in India in 1921. I adored the main character and learned about India culture. A book club pick!” (Historical fiction, Mystery)
You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy
“Being a good listener is becoming a highly prized character trait. Murphy interviews people whose jobs are dependent on listening, a CIA agent, bar tender, furniture salesman, etc. to find out how to become a better listener.” (Nonfiction, Psychology)
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
“The true story of the plight of the “radium girls” tragedy. After WW1, women in a watch making factory were encouraged to paint watch faces with radium paint and use their lips to pinch the paint brush. No one knew how dangerous radium was until the girls became extremely sick. The story is unputdownable and the characters will stay with you for a long time.” (Nonfiction, History)