Reading can be relaxing and rewarding, whether you are reading in the quiet peace of the M-A library or in your bedroom under the covers. During quarantine, #booktok on TikTok, social media influencers, and general boredom popularized reading for leisure among many teenagers. 

In April 2021, Emma Chamberlain, a content creator with a loyal fanbase of almost 11 million subscribers, released a video titled “READING MAKES YOU HOT” that accumulated more than 3.5 million views. Chamberlain is one of the many influencers who have encouraged younger fans to read, saying that reading has helped her cope with anxiety and depression. 

Without school as motivation, it can sometimes be hard to pick up a book, but reading has both immediate and long-term benefits for your health. A study by the University of Sussex showed that reading can reduce stress levels by as much as 68%. Junior Henry Bei shared that reading can help him “decompress and relax.” The distraction from the source of stress can ease tension in muscles and make you feel calmer, making it a great alternative to a nap at the end of a busy day. 

Spending time away from a screen before bed can help teenagers get a better night’s sleep and prepare themselves for the next day. Sophomore and avid reader DonnaBella Gaetano said that reading has “allowed me to detach from reality in a positive way, improve my focus, and explore information as a healthier alternative to technology.” 

In addition, the benefits of reading can catch up with you later in life. According to a study conducted by the Yale University School of Public Health, reading clearly correlates to living longer. It is also shown to prevent age-related cognitive decline, making old age more enjoyable. 

People only need to read silently for six minutes to slow down their heart rate according to cognitive neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis, which is good if you don’t have very much free time. To create a habit of reading, it is super helpful to set a 10-30 minute timer each day and read for the full time. 

By creating a comfortable space with your family or friends, cracking open a book can feel less daunting. Gaetano suggests reading on the lawn with a dog because it’s “sunny and peaceful to read with birds and flowers,” and she likes to be outdoors. “I like to read in my living room because it’s a common space where my family hangs out and it brings a sense of connection, and it’s warm and cozy,” said sophomore Lillen Montague-Alamin.

Reading can also be “extremely entertaining,” said sophomore Zahara Agarwal. “Reading makes you smarter, exposes you to new ideas, and is limitless because there’s something for everyone and no pressure to like anything.” Visiting the local or M-A library and browsing the sections can help you find something that interests you, as well as checking out the list of student recommendations below. 

“Reading is a truly intoxicating experience, and opens so many doors while improving both your vocabulary and writing abilities,” said Montague-Alamin.

Books that M-A Students Recommend (responses from a form)

  • Legend, the Series by Marie Lu is about a dystopian society. I read it during the lockdown, so it allowed me to escape for some time.
  • All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is about a girl named Violet who meets Theodore Finch on a rooftop for the same reasons and with this shared bond, they develop a meaningful relationship. When partnered for a school project, they get closer and closer, help each other grow, and participate in many adventures together. It was a very heartwarming story about human connection and dependence on others. 
  • Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt is a very well written book that is truly heartbreaking, uplifting, and one that you can love all at once. It’s about a high schooler whose parents foster an older boy who has had a child named Jupiter. He’s not allowed to see Jupiter, but the majority of the book is about the connection developed between the two boys. It’s truly a work of art.
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is really good. It’s about a big family that has a family secret that everyones been avoiding, but when it is finally brought up it is very interesting to see what happens.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is super well written and very emotionally tense. It’s about two women from different backgrounds who come together in the same household in Afghanistan.
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt is about a group of classics students who murder one of their friends (not a spoiler) and then their motivations and the aftermath is revealed throughout the book. It is absolutely beautifully written, and the intricate plot is explained through stunning and elegant prose. The characters are devastatingly developed and I enjoy reading this book again and again.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas focuses on racism in the United States and I liked reading it because it describes modern day issues in our country from the victim’s perspective.

Books that the Chronicle recommends

  • Looking for Alaska by John Green is must-read and made me cry, which barely any books do. When Miles goes to boarding school after living an average life, he is pulled into new experiences and friendships unlike what he has experienced before. 
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is one of the most unique books I have read in a long time. It is written from the perspective of a middle aged woman with hardly any friends, and it is so interesting to read about her outlook on life. This is definitely for more advanced readers.
  • They Both Die In The End by Adam Silvera takes place in an alternate reality where on your “death day” you receive an alert that tells you that you have a day left to live. Two boys, each with twenty-four hours left, meet and have one last adventure on their last day alive.
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a great book for people who don’t love to read because it’s fast paced and brings the characters to multiple settings for a change. 
  • One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a mystery novel with suspenseful plot twists and four changing perspectives that revolve around the suspected murder of a fellow classmate. 

Sonia Freedman is a junior in her second year of M-A Journalism. She began "The Music Moment" column and is looking forward to continuing to write about the culture, community, and unique events at M-A. In her free time, you can find her editing Spotify playlists, extending her Duolingo streak, or formulating the best salad. You can also find her work on the blog for jwa.org!

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