Deputy Entertainment Editor Chloe Barrett writes about the importance of maintaining boundaries in the world of books while you’re in college, along with how to escape a reading slump. 


Hello, my name is Chloe, and I am an avid reader. Yes, that sounds like the opening to a support group. This is the point where you all reply solemnly “Hi, Chloe.” At least, that is what I have seen in shows. As I said, I read a lot. Currently, I am reading my ninetieth book of the year, and it may be unhealthy, but who knows? Now, for the most surprising piece of information: I am an English student (shocker!). On top of my books, I have to read quite a lot of academic novels for my modules, and I found it hard at first to juggle the two, and have heard the same from friends. However, as I enter my third year of college, I feel like I have found an appropriate balance, especially in creating a border between the two different reading styles.


The first tip that I have to offer is to get some of your college books read before the semester starts. This might sound obvious, but it is far easier said than done. I always caught myself saying “I have another two weeks until I have to finish Middlemarch, it’ll be grand!” until those weeks raced by me and I was drowning in George Eliot and one of the Brontë sisters. I would not recommend it.


A method of balancing these classics alongside my reading for enjoyment was to allow myself to pick one of my books on my ‘to-be-read’ list after I had finished with an academic novel. That way, I was not only giving myself a break from the early nineteen hundreds, but I found that I was valuing my pleasurable reads more as they felt like a reward. (If you can juggle two books at once, you could also read one chapter of a college book, and then one of your own).


Sometimes, after reading a few books that would not be your forte, you can experience a bit of a reading slump. If you’re finding it difficult to start a book, even one that you have been dying to read but cannot seem to make it past the first five pages, it’s unfortunately probably a slump. I find that audiobooks excel at powering you through this rough period. After all, there will come a time when you must rest your eyes, and audiobooks are perfect. Whether you are lying on the couch cuddled in a blanket, going for an evening walk, or doing some housework, you can listen to a novel. If you have a fear of losing concentration while listening, you can follow along to your book with the narrator. To try some out, I would recommend the app ‘Scribd’, you get a handy trial with access to all of the audiobooks that they have. ‘Audible’ is another popular one, as they probably have the biggest selection. You can always just try to look them up online, too, as many of them, especially older novels, can be found for free. Youtube has a treasure trove of audio books to listen to, with both great titles and great readers in equal measures. Cork City Library offers a service called Borrowbox, allowing you to download up to 10 audiobooks at a time every three weeks.


Another quick method of rescuing yourself from a slump is the act of rereading a favourite. Whether this is a guilty read, such as a book you loved as a child, or, in my case, the entire Twilight series, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes all you need is the comforting joy of a book that is precious to you.


I believe that keeping your hobby of reading separate from your studies is necessary. Just like the practice of creating a border between your personal and professional life for self-care, the same should be extended to your reading, especially if your reading tastes differ. For example, I am not the biggest fan of classics. Although some have been great, I wouldn’t reach for them immediately when I ponder over my next read, and that’s okay. The most important thing when reading is prioritising your happiness.