Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Reading for pleasure: A survey of Whitman reading habits

Winter is setting in on campus. It is getting dark before dinnertime, too cold to leave the house without a sufficient amount of bundling. What better way to welcome in the season than by curling up by a fire, tea in hand and reading a book? Reading for pleasure: A survey of Whitman reading habits

Do Whitman students have time to just, well, read?

In a survey conducted over the students’ listserv, results on students’ attitude towards pleasure reading varied. In general, students felt that they would read more if they had more time, and that reading what they wanted to once in a while positively impacted their well-being.

Forty-six percent of those surveyed said that they only spend one hour or less per week reading for fun. The next largest category of students fell in the one to four hours per week range, at 45 percent. Only one percent of students save time for 12 hours or more of reading non-assigned materials for the sake of their own enjoyment.

“I think we should read more,” said senior theater major Forrest Seamons. “I think I have time but I don’t do it…I do crosswords. It is just a matter of making time. I think if it were important to people they would.”

“I love pleasure reading, it’s amazing,” said junior English and studio art double major Noel Sollom-Brotherton. “I get a lot of learning done actually in my own selections, especially connected to selections I have for class. For example, I just finished “On Beauty and Being Just”; I thought it was incredible, and I’m using it to write a paper for Romantic Poetry.”

Results were inverted for the number of hours students spend completing assigned reading for class. Thirty-six percent spend 8-12 hours, while only five percent read less than one hour of required reading per week.

Sollom-Brotherton admitted, however, that homework does change his extracurricular reading habits. “It totally does. I would read so much more if the workload were not so intense. I would read all the time if I was allowed,” he said.

Fifty-six percent of students would read four hours or more just for fun each week if they didn’t have any homework.

Approximately 45 percent of students have finished a non-assigned book within the past year; 35.4 percent have finished one within the past month. Only 4.2 percent cannot remember the last time they did.

“God, I wish I had time for that,” said sophomore Lisa Matteson, a politics and theater double major. “I would read so much Salman Rushdie.”

Forty-eight percent of students believe that their opinion of someone else would change if they learned that he/she was well read. Only five percent felt that it didn’t matter.

Rushdie, who spoke to the student body on Wednesday of last week, discussed what kind of reading he did in his spare time, detailing that for one of his projects he reads on average four or five short stories per day. When asked what his favorite book was, Rushdie said, “it depends what day of the week it is.”

Fifty-six percent of students agreed that reading makes them feel happy. Thirty-three percent feel that reading makes them a lot happier. Only six percent feel that reading makes them extremely unhappy.

Favorite books varied drastically among students, a fact that may surprise some, who assumed Harry Potter would top the list. Among those listed were “The Great Gatsby,” “Catch-22,” “Crime and Punishment,” “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “Dune,” “East of Eden,” “Kite Runner,” “1984,” “The Little Prince,” “The Tao of Pooh” and “The Poisonwood Bible.” One student responded that their favorite read was their biochemistry textbook, perhaps evidence of what little time many have to sit down and read for fun.

*The survey analyses conducted reflect the random responses of 100 students.

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