It is easy to fall out of love with reading. As classes become more advanced and academic pressure begins to build, reading for pleasure goes on the back burner.
Students are forced to read books they can’t relate to for classes, and their time after school is dominated by activities they need for their resume. With free time few and far between, many would rather dissociate with mind-numbing activities such as watching TV or scrolling on social media.
The love for the written word is diminishing before our eyes. California high school teacher Jeremy Adams believes this is a greater issue, writing in the Los Angeles Times students “will lose empathy. Their imaginations will be stunted… They will become estranged from many of the treasures that only readers can comprehend.”
Many bookstores host a small shelf in the corner entitled “books to get you out of your reading slump.” These recommendations are all tailored toward young adults with short attention spans. Novels by Colleen Hoover and books full of explicit sexual content jump off the shelves at you. Instead of getting a to-read list off of TikTok, there are some substantial (yet quick) reads to help a person fall in love with literature again.
Kristin Kehl is the manager at the local Tallahassee bookstore Midtown Reader. She says, due to burnout, young people tend to dread reading as they get older.
“Many may have been big readers growing up and now have a hard time finding books that evoke similar feelings as adults, so we end up being a bit disenchanted with reading,” said Kehl. “There’s a lot of instant entertainment right now, so reading may seem slower and harder to focus on. Capturing the attention of readers is what often gets them back into reading.”
FSU graduate student Skyler Miller is a bookseller at Barnes and Noble. She explained that social media has contributed to some young adults getting back into reading.
“There has been a renaissance of young people reading with ‘booktok,'” said Miller. “To get out of a reading slump I highly recommend switching to a fast-paced book in a different genre than your last book… I usually get in book slumps because the last book I read was so good that nothing compares to it, but if I switch genres and just read, or skim until I get to the good stuff, a fast-paced and completely different book I can usually get the ball rolling again.”
At Barnes and Noble, romance and fantasy seem to be the most popular genres among the younger generation. Miller said titles such as “Fourth Wing,” “A Court of Thorns and Roses” and “Icebreaker” have been flying off the shelves. Kehl stated that “Fourth Wing” by Rebecca Yarros is also very popular at Midtown Reader.
“It feels similar to the fantasy and world-building that many people loved as kids, but also has romance, mystery and more adult themes that are interesting to us now,” said Kehl. “And of course, there are the timeless essays [by] Roxane Gay and Joan Didion that appeal to younger readers.”
FSU Junior Sofia Clark is an avid reader. Her love of literature has never diminished over the years, and she has a few recommendations for those who are ready to get back into reading. For romantic comedy lovers, she endorses “Today Tonight Tomorrow” by Rachel Lynn Solomon. “It’s a basic feel-good romantic comedy that makes you so giddy you’ll be kicking your feet while reading,” said Clark.
“The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig was first on Clark’s must-read list. “I loved this book because the protagonist was able to try out different life sequences. It gives the reader perspective and appreciation to make the most of their lives in the moment,” said Clark.
To get back into reading, Kehl suggests “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Kimmerer, “Beautiful World, Where Are You?” by Sally Rooney and “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
“Each of these is very different but lives in the same realm of capturing its reader, both with the beauty of their words and with the content of the story they’re trying to tell. ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ is like meditation and makes a reader walk away, more grounded. ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You?’ is a coming of age for two best friends, fresh out of college, [and] ‘Seven Husbands’ is an engrossing, fast read making the readers devoted to its characters,” said Kehl.