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Reigniting My Love of Reading as a Busy College Student

Replacing Doom Scrolling with "Just One More Chapter Before Bed"

Written By: Alexandra Holley, VP Publications

Growing up, I always defined myself as an avid reader. When I was in elementary school, I would sit in my kitchen at night as my grandparents watched the news, reading as many chapters of Harry Potter as I could get through before being sent off to bed. In middle school, I would always tote around a book in my backpack, bringing it out every spare moment I got. This made it all the more difficult to accept when I got to high school and spent my evenings after class and tennis practice catching up on YouTube videos or eventually scrolling through TikTok, realizing it had been years since I had been fully consumed by a new book series.

During my first few years of college, I didn’t even think about reading for pleasure. Between adjusting to my new lifestyle, balancing classes, making new friends, trying to find the perfect extracurriculars to get involved in, and, of course, all of the mandatory readings I had, it never crossed my mind to dive into a new book when I had the free time.  

That all changed last December when one of my favorite social media influencers, Eli Rallo, came out with her debut novel, I Didn’t Know I Needed This. As someone who had been avidly watching her notes app rules lists for how to live life to the fullest and listening to Eli’s podcast every week, I knew I had to get my hands on this book as soon as it came out. I went to my hometown Books a Million and scoured the shelves, finally finding the last copy in store hiding on the bottom shelf in the self-improvement section.  

Reading her book that night in my childhood bedroom felt like I was my middle school self again, speeding through chapters, racing myself to see how far I could get in a sitting. I impressed myself with how fast I was getting through the book as someone who hadn’t picked up a book for pure enjoyment in years.  

Eli’s book was a perfect combination of captivating essays from her college and graduate school years, rules lists, and advice for living your life to your fullest potential. It inspired me to not only get back into reading for fun, but also to pick up books that I felt would motivate me and improve my life in some way.  

I returned to Tuscaloosa, and after the first week of classes, my best friend and I went to Barnes & Noble together. I picked out the book Atomic Habits by James Clear and helped her search for the romance novel she needed for her new book club, Icebreaker. I immediately recognized the novel as one I had seen all over my TikTok “For You” page. I told her about how I wanted to get back into reading for fun, and she invited me to join the book club with her. That night, I walked into an apartment full of strangers and was welcomed with open arms as we talked about everything from our reading goals and books we loved to the 10-year-olds at Sephora epidemic. We read the first chapter of Icebreaker together, and I was immediately hooked on the cheesy, easy-to-read fluff the novel had to offer.  

The next day, I had school off and decided that instead of wasting my day scrolling through social media, I would spend at least a little time reading. I picked up our book club novel and started flying through it. The chapters were short and easily digestible, so I found myself finished with the six chapters we agreed to for the week in half an hour. Despite my temptations, I forced myself to stop once I reached chapter seven, for the time being, and switched over to Atomic Habits to quench my reading thirst. This was the first time in my college career that I had spent a day off reading and found myself genuinely enamored by the text I had to read.  

Although this is fairly new for me and I am just dipping my toe back into being an avid reader, there are a few key takeaways I’ve learned so far:  

1. It’s okay to start with something lighthearted and silly. Even reading the cheesiest, fluffiest romance book will feel more rewarding than spending hours doom scrolling through TikTok.  


2. Implementing the “Two-Book Rule” has helped me balance reading for pleasure and reading for knowledge. I like to have a book I’m reading for fun and a book that inspires and motivates me on my nightstand at all times.  


3. Community is everything. I genuinely don’t think I would be as inspired to pursue reading as a passion again if I hadn’t walked into that apartment of girls I had never met before and talked about books over charcuterie. Making friends with people who have similar interests will make you feel more passionate and hold you accountable for your goals.  


At the end of the day, my doom scrolling on TikTok isn’t ending any time soon, and I will continue to justify it with the fact that, as a PR major, I need to keep up with social media trends. However, I think this new habit of incorporating reading into my free time will at least lessen the time I spend scrolling through videos of haunted dolls as I try to sleep at night.  


To all of the former Percy Jackson or Harry Potter kids out there who haven’t picked up a good book in years, I encourage you to take a trip to your local bookstore and find at least one novel that piques your interest. It could be the start of your reignited love of reading.  



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