Fitting Pleasure Reading into a Busy Schedule

Growing up, I always enjoyed reading books. While some of my friends complained about having to read short chapter books for homework, I was busy devouring book after book. One summer, as I went to check out a stack of books for the next week at my library, the librarian scanned my card and suddenly exclaimed, “Ah hah! It’s you! You’re the one who’s read most of the Young Adult section this summer!” I frequently argued with my parents over the merits of bringing half a suitcase full of books on every vacation. They constantly asked if I wanted an eReader for whatever holiday was coming up, but I was far too set on physical, paper books and refused each offer.

An eBook nestled between print books.

But like most young bookworms, as high school rolled around, I found myself without the time or energy to read for pleasure. My reading dwindled from almost a book a day to maybe a book a week, and eventually to none at all. While I missed it, I never managed to make the time to read during the school year, and once the habit was lost I found myself letting it stay lost over breaks and summers as well.

Right as I started Princeton, however, I found the solution to my problem completely by chance. I came across a website called BookBub. BookBub lets you pick various authors, genres, and books you enjoyed, and sends you customized recommendations of free and cheap eBook deals at regular intervals. I subscribed to a daily email, and, while I was still very skeptical of eBooks, found myself drawn to some of the recommendations and downloaded them to my phone. And once I started reading again, my passion for it came back full force.

The secret was, of course, the convenience of reading on my cell phone. While I still stand by my conviction that reading a physical book is a completely different—and better—experience, the realities of student life don’t always allow for it. Reading a physical book requires both hands and all of your attention; on the contrary, reading on your phone allows you to multitask and fill otherwise dead times with a few pages of reading. On top of that, even if I were to carry a physical book with me all the time, I know I wouldn’t pull it out for less than 10 minutes of reading time. But the easy access to eBooks on my phone means that I now read every day while blow-drying my hair, whenever I’m in the dining hall alone or waiting for my friends to get their food, and in any interval of a few minutes when I’m waiting to meet up with someone or waiting for a class or event to start. While it is only a few pages at a time, I average a book every week or two weeks, which is certainly better than none at all.

For those who enjoy reading for pleasure but have struggled to make time, I highly recommend trying out reading on your phone. Princeton has its own eBook library called OverDrive, and many libraries have implemented eBook borrowing programs. This also means that this digital reading in spare moments could be extended to research materials and texts, allowing you to more efficiently use short, otherwise useless chunks of time to progress your research. I hope you learn to love digital reading as much as I have!

–Alexandra Koskosidis, Engineering Correspondent