Rediscovering love for independent reading provides comfort, improves mental health 


Graphic by Hannah Conn '23

Reading independantly and non-educationally provides an opportunity for readers to relax, engage their minds and de-stress. Choosing to read a book over scrolling through social media has proved to encourage mental health and healthy sleeping habits.

I always described myself as an avid reader. I devoured books one after the other and enjoyed every moment that I spent by myself flipping through the pages. I dive headfirst into world after world, loving character after character. Since I was young, reading has come easily to me both academically and personally. But, despite my love for it, recently I have realized that I have deserted my favored fun, lighthearted reads for books that school requires me to read for assignments. 

As a student who has always been in advanced English classes, Staples provides me with several thought-engaging, deep and difficult reads to challenge my ability and to be the subject and focus of essays. In turn, I have spent most of my reading time scanning for themes, motifs and literary devices. 

Short stories turned into assignments. Books turned into essay material. Reading turned into a chore. This process sucked out the joy of reading for me. I no longer enjoyed reading, in fact, I dreaded it. 

Recently, I  decided I had to do something to combat this and regain my appreciation for literary pleasure. 

In the new year, I decided to track the number of books I read as well as titles and my personal rating of the book. By the next new year, I hope to have read 100 books. In just two short months of 2023, I already have rediscovered my love for reading and have felt my mental health increasing ten-fold.

In the beginning of March, I consulted my list and saw that I have accomplished reading 24 books across various genres. Though I was concerned I would not be able to “stick with it” I have found that my love for reading was not gone, it has just been buried between years of disgust towards required readings. 

I have personally found that my mental health has improved since beginning my reading goal.[…] Not only have I reclaimed my enjoyment of reading, I have reaped the benefits of doing so.

— Hannah Conn '23

One of my favorite aspects of my personal goal is that I am choosing books that have no particular importance. Some are high-fantasy adventure books, some are dystopian centered sci-fi books, but my most favorite has to be my mid-sized romance books. There is no need to read between the lines in these books, there is no search for literary merit, it is pure enjoyment of a form of art. 

Reading for pleasure and as a simple hobby provides me so much more than just relaxation, the benefits are amazing: increased creativity, cognitive engagement and self-improvement of my reading ability to name a few. Though subconsciously, one can gain numerous skills from reading for pleasure. 

Utilizing personal reading can help improve one’s mental health as well. The National Alliance for Mental Illness cites a 2009 study at the University of Sussex saying that reading can reduce one’s stress level by up to 68% simply by reducing our heart rates. notes that reading a physical book, rather than one on your phone or scrolling through social media prior to bed can improve longevity and quality of sleep. Finally, according to, reading for pleasure can increase self-esteem and reduce symptoms of depression.

I have personally found that my mental health has improved since beginning my reading goal. Instead of mindlessly scrolling on TikTok or Instagram, I have engaged my mind healthily in works of fiction. I have replaced screen time before bed with a good old book and have found that I can fall asleep easier. Not only have I reclaimed my enjoyment of reading, I have reaped the benefits of doing so.