Why reading recreationally during the Summer is a good idea

So it’s the end of the semester and you–probably–passed all your classes.  Even if you didn’t, they’re still over, and that’s a relief.  You’ve finally slept for 72 hours straight and now you’re awake, bleary-eyed and you just want to sit around and do nothing.

If you’re lucky, which most of us dream of, you’ll have the entire summer to yourself. However,  if you’re taking summer classes, there’s still a lot of time left on your hands as well. This has led most of us to ask, “So… what now?”

Of course, there’s always the option of slouching in front of the computer like you have been all semester, endlessly cycling between Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  Or you could do something productive.

Let’s face it, most of us are utterly exhausted by the end of the year.  But what if I told you there’s a way of being productive and relaxing at the same time? There is! The short answer is reading. The slightly longer answer is reading fiction.

A study at Emory University states that among benefits such as heightened language skills, motor skills and cognition, there is an increase in neural connectivity and an ability to empathize with other people due to reading fiction.

But there’s a distinction to be made here, and a snobbish one at that.  While reading is generally beneficial, there is a difference in personal benefit between reading what is commonly called Popular Fiction and what is called Literary Fiction.

An article by The Guardian distinguishes between ‘writerly’ fiction, which is more participatory and ‘readerly’ fiction which can be enjoyed more passively.

The article states that the more ‘writerly’ books are, the better they tend to be in promoting empathy and even awareness of subtleties of facial expressions, as well as the other benefits mentioned above.

However, the article resists naming books that fall under each category.  Still, genre novels (Thrillers, Adventure, Horror, etc.) tend to be more ‘readerly’ meaning they’re not as beneficial as other, more subtle (and some would say ‘weirder’) novels.

Even if you don’t normally like reading, it can be a great way of keeping yourself entertained as well as exercising yourself mentally for the coming semester.  You wouldn’t want to start back in school with the dullness that comes from too much Internet, would you?