Reading into students’ tastes in books


Samuel Colmar

Senior Aubrey Smith reads a book on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, at William T. Young Library in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

Quézia Arruda Cunha, Reporter

Before I went to college, I felt like my life would be like Rory Gilmore’s (excluding all her faults). In college, I would immerse myself into a world of fantastic books, in my ideal journalistic universe. The smell of a new book page would be my new scent.

The truth is that lifestyle was more in my imagination. Despite reading daily, my scent remains the same and nothing fantastic has happened.

I believe this also applies to most UK students. In my quest to find potential Rory Gilmores across campus, I discovered some surprising facts about students’ perspectives on the world of reading.

Students read as a necessary practice for their well-being. 

In general, students like to read what guarantees them a refuge from the heavy realities of studies and life itself.

“I love reading. I think it’s a good escape as far as novels and books,” Sarah Samiri, a student in the College of Communications and Information, said.

In conversations across UK’s campus, there’s a common trend. Reading beyond fictional narratives is in. 

Students have a desire to always be up to date on what is happening around them, whether it be about the new menu at the cafeteria or some national political matter.

“I am really sad that newspapers are outdated because the thought of holding an actual newspaper, a physical newspaper, sitting down with a coffee in the morning is so nostalgic to me,” Samiri notes. 

Samiri isn’t the only one who feels this way. Elizabeth Hallmann, a student of environmental and sustainability studies, also enjoys doing so. 

“Yes, I love reading, especially the most recent news,” Hallmann said.

UK students also expressed the power that reading certain books has had in their lives. 

The contact with the fictional world has a big enough impact to change their individual stories and life paths.

Just by reading a childhood book, one student, Débora Pena, was moved to fulfill her newest dream of directing and scripting her own movie on American soil. 

“(In) a Brazilian book that I read when I was maybe 10, it’s called ‘Making My Movie,’ and the girl was talking about how she went to film school and I loved it. I decided that I wanted to do a film as well and that’s where the idea of studying abroad came from. So it really changed how I saw my own life,” Pena said.

Reading encourages a desire for a change of scenery that has not only reached international students.

“One of my favorite books ever is “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt,” UK student Tate Magee said. “I was obsessed with it. Something about it … that’s why I ended up going to UK. Because it starts with a guy who grew up in California and he was like ‘I’m gonna go to a school that is like, all the way across the country, some school up north.’ And I was like ‘I also have to get out of here (Mississippi). I have to go somewhere else.’”

Samiri, Hallmann, Pena and Magee were absolutely certain that fellow UK students have one thing in common when it comes to reading: enjoying a typical, cliché novel. 

Not only that, but specifically novels written by Colleen Hoover.

“I know that (with) the #BookTok trend right now, a lot of people are dying to read all of Colleen Hoover’s books. I’ve seen that in the bookstore and these books are really popular due to TikTok right now,” Hellmann said.  

Indeed, TikTok is the new library. 

Reading became part of a cool trend, and I see no problem with that. I just hope students, not just from UK, can feel and sense the books, or any other written piece, as an authentic and lasting scent. 

Overall, I believe that UK students are passionate about discovering new worlds. 

After talking with students from different backgrounds here at UK, I was able to conclude that, with or without TikTok, students need a parallel literary world to deal with their occasionally gray and routine lives.

Even their common interest in newspapers, whether to follow the war in Ukraine or to analyze football games, makes me conclude that students are passionate about novelty and what is different.

Finding a new scent every day seems to be UK’s students’ taste for reading.