BY Karen Yu

Whilst reading can be tedious for some, for a lot of people it’s a time to relax and be completely taken out of their conscious minds. I sat down with Jack and Jeremy from UNSW Bookworm Society for a talk about books and stress.

Jack said that he doesn’t remember when he started reading, but he has loved reading since he was very young. Hearing that there was a society focused on reading books, he took the initiative to join and has been with them since. Jeremy on the other hand hated reading until he was eight. Spending more time in the library during his lunch at school, he started to pick some books up and got to reading.

Finding people that love reading as much as me is a good thing

Jeremy said that since he started reading he hadn’t found anyone that he could discuss books with which is why he was happy to find out about the Bookworm Society. He said that it was a new experience to read books together and not in isolation. He found joy in discussing books with others and finding whether he had read the book the same way as other people and whether his experiences and emotions reading the book were the same as others.

The Bookworm Society works to bring bookworms together in a chill and sociable environment. They are keen to see people with different tastes in genre join their society.

We let people vote for which book and genre they want to be the topic

The society has a poll which members can choose which genre and then which book they want to read each term. Understanding that every student has their own schedule and priorities, they get together at the end of the semester when everyone has finished it. There is no pressure to finish the book by then, so they are quite flexible. They just want to create more personal relations with each other through the common interest of reading books.

They have also tried to diversify what they offer to members over the past two years with more activities like the Book Swap, movie and trivia nights.

We do want to avoid being the stereotypical old people book club

I asked what they loved seeing in their society and Jack answered that he loved seeing the excitement when people read and when they meet new people. Jeremy also said that he loved being around people that had also read the same books because it meant that there was a connection between them.

On misconceptions, Jack said that because reading wasn’t a very popular pastime anymore, people assumed reading was boring. But he said that this was a somewhat tragic misconception because it could bring you something that other pastimes like Netflix or video games cannot. Jeremy said that he himself can be pulled into this misconception as university students who are already stumped with the amount of course readings.

They also said that they were not book snobs. Both Jack and Jeremy explained that they did not judge whatsoever and were more than welcome to journey through different genres including comics, childrens and much more. Jack even said that “the idea is not to rank these types on a hierarchy, it’s to appreciate books as they are” . Personally, I think this comment applies to books and much more beyond that.

On stress relievers, Jack said that anything to take your mind off stress was a good stress reliever and he thought that doing something else to distract yourself was good. He thought reading books helped, butalso going for a walk or jog was helpful too.

Reading transports me to a world that nothing else can do

Jeremy explained that with reading, he would often fall into the world of the book and disregard everything that was on his mind. He said he didn’t know time passed by and admitted this could be risky but recommended setting an alarm. Jack added on to this by saying that with each page you turn, you get more sucked into the book and the world there.

They also talked about the difficulty some people found in sleeping and whilst Jack recommended to read a book 30 minutes before sleeping to help you drift off, Jeremy said that books kept him awake.

We’ll be here to take that burden off you

Their biggest stress right now was obviously exams and assignments which is something I know all students will resonate with. They also recommended procrastinating less and better time management as methods to help stress less but admitted that it was obviously not as easily said than done. Jeremy also added “If you join a society like Bookworm Society you can find an amazing group of friends that will support you”.

On stress, Jack got very technical about the effects of stress on both the mental and physical health. He emphasised how it was a serious problem which needed to be addressed or the aftermath would be very damaging.

University doesn’t really matter that much, grades aren’t the end of my life

Jeremy said that having a positive mindset was important. He said that if you knew that university wasn’t the end of the road and thought about the endless opportunities after university, it would be better. He also said to not be fixated on a particular mark for an assignment or test.

I felt like I was in the company of absolute experts when I asked for book recommendations. Jack suggested ‘The Library Book’ by Susan Orlean which is a book about the importance of reading that is written in a journalistic style. Jeremy recommended ‘All the Ugly and Wonderful Things’ by Bryn Greenwood.

Karen is a Media student passionate about events, concerts and writing! She'll most likely be lounging at home listening to music or watching dramas. Follow her on Instagram.