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5th October 2023

Fall in love again: learn to read and write for yourself

Finding your own style and book preferences can be hard, especially when there are thousands to dive into. If you’ve lost all passion to read and write, look no further! Here are the ways to fall in love all over again and find pleasure in reading and writing outside of your uni timetable this year.
Fall in love again: learn to read and write for yourself
Photo: Megan Bailey @ The Mancunion

To read and to write is an integral part of our lives. It’s how we learn, how we grow, and most importantly, how we work out how to build flat-packed furniture. Yet, somewhere amongst this necessity, it is easy to forget the beauty of language until we stumble upon something that really moves us, that translates a feeling or a moment, and we remember those emotions as though experiencing them for the first time. 

This year, we want to encourage everyone to find their niche. Too often we find ourselves caught up in the throes of life and its expectations. Reading the syllabus and writing assignments, reading recommended books and writing a diary in a style you can only hope will still sound poetic and not humiliating ten years later. You might inevitably begin to forget what it is that you really enjoy. Trying new things is important, but we want to help those who haven’t quite found their ‘thing’ yet. So, this one’s for you. 

Find your genres

Something that has become apparent amongst bookish accounts on social media is a sort of pretentiousness around what people ‘should’ read. The classics, more often than not, are always a safe bet. Anything that reads like slam poetry, or aesthetic quotes disguised as poetry, is a big no. But at face value, does it really matter? 

Reading Twilight on the train might seem like some sort of humiliation ritual to some, but it raises the question: why discourage someone from recreational reading? Is it to prove that we are better, or smarter, or that we understand literature more profoundly than someone who secretly enjoys the simplicity of a cheesy romance that you find in airport shops? The truth is, we can try to force ourselves to like something, but if we try too hard to read for the wrong reasons, we will stop reading at all. So – find your genre, and don’t feel ashamed about what you like.  

Classics have so much to offer: stories of love and suffrage, romantic manor houses and gothic tales of the supernatural. Sci-fi and cyberpunk have immense world-building and dystopian plots, with themes of AI and humans modified with robotic parts, bright cities and characters brighter. Fantasy bends the rules of reality, materialising fantastical creatures inspired by folklore and mythology. 

Whether you’re into short stories or the lives of your favourite celebs – the primary aim of a writer is to find their demographic of readers who truly enjoy their words and feel somewhat changed by them. It might take some exploring, but trust that as long as you read or have read, you are a reader. 

Writing for you

It’s likely a shared experience – trying to start a journal or a diary and then forgetting about it soon after, picking it up again only to read over the past few entries and wanting to crawl into a hole out of sheer embarrassment. You might try different styles, writing to a person or to yourself, a simple “went to lectures, food shopping, dinner, bed,” or a long-winded rant about a stressful situation. 

The art of writing is that style changes all the time, and if you hate it two weeks later, you’re probably doing something right. When we practice writing for ourselves, we become more refined, and the words we write become ours, more characterized by our individual voices with each draft. So, if it’s something you want to explore, don’t feel discouraged by an angsty diary entry from when emotions were high – we’ve all been there. Writing can serve many purposes; as an outlet for our feelings, to manipulate language and stretch it to its creative limits, and to entertain. So even if you keep it to yourself, it’s definitely a habit everyone can benefit from. 

Time Management

One of the biggest things you hear from students about reading is that there simply isn’t enough time to read recreationally at university. After all, there is already a mountain of required reading and it’s important to factor in time spent socialising and running daily errands. 

Sometimes, even the smallest of books can seem overwhelming against the listless other things bidding for our time. But, if you still want to try, take small steps. Pick something far away from your assigned reading and start off with a few pages a night, or even consider audiobooks as an alternative. 

It’s important to create time for yourself, without the pressure of meeting deadlines or proving yourself. Time wasted enjoying yourself is never really wasted, after all. 

This year, fall in love with reading and writing again. It’s not about anyone other than yourself, and it should be something you look forward to, not dread. Get inspired and self-indulge, you never know where it might lead. 

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