Academic Pressure Put Me Off Reading

Reading is a fantastic form of relaxation and escapism; delving into an interesting read on an evening is a poignant moment of calm before sleep. 

As a child, I was a self-confessed bookworm – I had a book in my hand at every possible second, and found pride in how many novels I could finish in a month. 

But as years passed, my love for reading began to waiver. This (unsurprisingly) coincided with my increase in schoolwork and academic commitments. My evenings were now centered around reading OCR’s Chemistry revision guide, and quickly sketching something indiscernible for my Art GCSE. If you did find me reading a piece of fiction, it was most likely something I found incredibly dull. My A-Level English Literature teacher heavily recommended we only read the classics, to the point that she did spot checks on what we were reading outside of the studied texts.  Unfortunately for me, many of the classics bore me, and I forced myself to sit with them at one point during the day (1984 was an uninteresting read and a let-down – you cannot convince me otherwise). 

Even today – as a politics student who is currently not doing much with her time off – I still struggle to get excited about sitting down with a good book I actually enjoy reading. For many like myself, academia has turned reading into a task that needs completing, rather than a moment of downtime. My solution to fixing this? Attempt to relieve the pressure off yourself to pick up a book. Like me, it might mean you go for weeks without picking it up, but that’s okay. If you keep forcing yourself to read, the more stuck you will be in your I-don’t-want-to-read rut. Also, do not read a book just because it is canon, or makes you look “clever” for reading it. I have started reading fast-paced exciting books which will never change literature as we know it, but are simply interesting to read – and it is helping me enjoy reading again. 

It is a shame that the education system and the pressure it gives out has tainted my love for reading, and I am sure I am one of many who have gone through this reading dry-spell. Yes, it is important if you study English to learn about important pieces of fiction.

However, what I read in my downtime, should have been at my discretion and not subject to judgement. We cannot be expected to give up interesting books as we move up in education. But hey, that’s A-Levels for you. 

Reading is a good thing, and you cannot discourage it because the book itself isn’t profound enough. So, pick up your old copy of some spy-thriller, or trashy romance novel, and enjoy it.