Reading for pleasure: how it can make exam season bearable

Reading what you want to read is good for your health. Okay, that’s not a professional opinion, but it’s one that I have had since last summer. Throughout AS and GCSE, I was under the impression that if I was reading anything that wasn’t related to my studies, I was wasting my time. Wrong. So very wrong indeed. A lot of my teachers wouldn’t say this – English might, science probably wouldn’t (they could be a bit small minded sometimes) – but I know it to be true.

Reading 3

When I was doing my A-Levels last year, reading so many resource sheets and text books made each day become a long drag of tiredness and headaches. The headaches were because I needed reading glasses, but I didn’t have my eyes tested so I didn’t know that until recently. But anyway, every single day I would pack my bag full with my folders, get on a stuffy bus and play the jolliest  music I could find to try and perk myself up for another day at school and then the library. Brilliant. Each day blurred into one long… blur.

After a few weeks of constantly memorising psychology case studies (there were a lot of case studies), I decided that I was bored of it all. Should I have just persevered with it? Should I, as my Dad likes to say “bloody well got on with it?” Well… maybe. But at that time I just knew I needed to read something that I enjoyed reading. I needed to remind myself that not all the books written in the world were textbooks. I needed to feel something other than stress or boredom when reading again. So, as I sat in the library, I slammed the AQA text book shut and had a scout around the YA section.

Reading 2

After having a good look, I came across the first book in the series ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ by Stephanie Perkins. The cover is what first attracted me to it. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by a cover, but after looking at even the most beautiful of covers, if the blurb is naff I don’t tend to bother with it. But it looked like the kind of book I needed to read to feel happier, and the blurb proved it to me. When I went back to my seat and started reading, I thought that I must have been blessed to come across this book at such a time. I was stressed, and this book began to calm me down.

It was bound to catch my attention because it’s set in Paris, and I love love love Paris. It’s light and kind of fluffy, but it’s by far the most enjoyable book I’ve read. They’re just really nice books. They were comforting and exactly what I needed at the time. It has to be said that my favourite one is ‘Isla and the Happily Ever After’ because I feel that Perkins throws you into the plot a lot quicker than in the other two, and that generally more happens in it. That’s not to say the other two aren’t good reads, I think they’re all very well written. The prose is very clean and to the point and the characters suspend belief. But Isla stands out for me personally. Although there’s always something more emotional about the last book in a series, I think that made it stronger: I wanted to know what happened but then I didn’t want it to end.

Reading 5

I know my A Level English teachers would understand me needing to do this. I know my psychology teacher might not, but screw it. It got me through. My grades weren’t amazing, and some might say that if I’d have used the time I spent reading Stephanie Perkins on going of those case studies more that I would have got a higher grade. Maybe. But what I do know is that through all that time I spent sitting at my desk losing my mind over my work, I wasn’t really learning anything. But taking some time out to give my brain a break meant that I learnt something.

My advice to anyone who is having to do extensive reading, either in your studies or for other reasons, try to take 15 minutes out of your day to read something that you like reading. Something light and fluffy is encouraged, but whatever floats your boat when it comes to books is good. Just let it take you out of your own world for a while, give yourself something to look forward to.

Take care of your brains. They all need a little care from time to time.

From the young M.A. Garrett.


P.S. I wish I could say it’s me in the feature picture, sadly it’s not. For starters, my thighs touch, and I’ve never been to a tropical paradise like that. I wish…


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