Escape to other realities through reading

Reading for pleasure can help improve mental health along with other benefits.

By Kendall Westgate and Pulse Staff

At the University of Findlay, Shaffer Library, the Writing Center, and the Center for Teaching Excellence came together to host Pleasure Reading Week this week, March 13-17.

Director of the Writing Center at UF, Dr. Harley Ferris stated in an email research has shown intellectual, emotional, and physical benefits from pleasure reading.

University of Findlay sophomore Zoe Wallace says it has helped her emotionally.

“College, as we all know, can be very stressful and draining,” University of Findlay sophomore Zoe Wallace said. “Reading has allowed me an escape from the turmoil of daily college life. It has also allowed me to stay connected with friends at home better.”

Pleasure reading consists of reading done at one’s own free-will with the anticipation of satisfaction from the act of reading, according to the National Literary Trust. Benefits of pleasure reading include expanded knowledge, higher standardized test scores, increased writing proficiency, and more positive outlook, according to the Edvocate.

“Pleasure reading can be an excellent self-care activity,” UF assistant director of counseling services Kendra Bermosk said in an email interview. “Self-care includes scheduling or taking time in your day to incorporate something that you enjoy so that you have something to look forward to and so that you can take a break from the pressures that sometimes cause anxiety or stress in everyday life.”

Bermosk says as little as 15 to 20 minutes out of one’s day can incorporate self-care into their day with pleasure reading. Incorporating self-care helps limit stress and a sense of overwhelming, which many college students face. Thirty minutes of reading a day lowers heart rate, feelings of psychological distress, and blood pressure, according to Healthline.

“Personally, I think that pleasure reading can be a nice change of pace and allow you the chance to improve your knowledge, or learn more about something interesting, or just allow for a different way of thinking or approaching the world,” Bermosk said.

As part of Pleasure Reading Week students can go to the writing center everyday this week form 8 to 10 a.m. for quiet reading time. Readers will enjoy coffee and breakfast snacks.

Each day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the writing center has tables outside the Writing Center where everyone is welcome to browse through books, donate items from their own collections, and engage in our daily activities.

And each day will offer a new theme or activity such as: Favorite First Lines or Quotes, Recommendations, Children’s Book Day, Design Your Own Book Cover / Coloring Contest, and Blind Date with a Book.

Wallace said she reads everyday with the time amount varying on her schedule, but typically before going to bed. Pleasure reading prepares one for a regular sleep routine, according to Healthline.

“Benefits I have noticed are less dependence on my phone and the ability to write better. I am a lot less dependent on social media when I need something to do. I will reach for a book much more often than my phone,” Wallace said. “Social media can be degrading and sometimes disheartening and is really bad for mental health. Reading, like I said earlier, is such a good escape from the real world. It lets me focus on character’s problems that I would never actually face.”

If new readers do not know where to start, Bermosk said to start with something one has interest in by asking friends for suggestions. The library or Amazon are good places to look for books for pleasure reading. Joining a book club or social media book group can help explore different genres and meet new people.

“I really like to read fantasy books,” Wallace said. “They are typically really well written and are a good way to kind of escape from the real world and imagine a different world. I don’t like to read about real people in the real world because I start to criticize it and say ‘oh this would never happen.’ But you can’t do that in fantasy, because anything can happen if it’s fictional.”

Besides fantasy, different book genres include adventure, romance, mystery, thriller, biographies, personal development, etc., according to AuthorityPub. Finding one’s favorite type of book helps maximize the benefits of reading for pleasure.

“I think reading can be an excellent way of improving one’s life in general,” Bermosk said. “While some people may think that they are not readers themselves, I always think it is helpful to give it a try again and find something you enjoy reading. That can often change one’s mind.”