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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Five tips you can use to stay on top of your reading pile this quarter

How to make time for both assigned reading and books of your own 


By SAVANNAH ANNO — arts@theaggie.org

Whether it’s 10 books for your English course, 20 research papers for sociology or an entire textbook for physics, you probably have a lot of reading to do this quarter — no matter what your major is. With this never-ending pile, the idea of reading anything else seems impossible. The book you started reading over spring break will most likely sit on your desk, collecting dust until June. 

Still, the urge to curl up with a good book before bed, or read in the park on the perfect spring day is inevitable. Reading for fun also has studied benefits, like improving your visualization skills, reducing stress levels and increasing empathy for others. 

So how can you fit it into your schedule on top of schoolwork? Here are five tips to maximize your reading time and get you excited about picking up a new book. 


Read books that contrast each other

If you’re reading something for class that feels overly wordy or challenging, while also trying to read another dense book on your own time, it’s no surprise that you’re feeling overwhelmed. Instead, try reading something that’s the complete opposite of what you’re assigned to read in class. 

When tasked with reading a 400-page novel, for example, pick up a collection of poetry as a breath of fresh air. If you have to read weekly chapters for biology, consider looking for an easy-to-read romance novel. The book you’re choosing to read for pleasure shouldn’t feel like another chore or assignment on top of your pre-existing schoolwork. 


Create a schedule

Try not to rush your reading. Instead of feeling like you have to read a book each week, or complete a reading goal by the end of the year, think of reading as something you can do recreationally and without stress. Even if you only read a chapter a day, the point is that you’re still reading something you enjoy. 

Think about creating a set time in your calendar for reading, the same way you would block off time for your classes or to go to the gym. Setting aside just 30 minutes before bed, or 15 minutes in between lectures will help you form a routine and ensure you always have a little bit of relaxation time each day. Creating separate times for working on assigned reading versus recreational reading might also help you better balance your work and relieve stress. 

Consider joining a book club

If you don’t think creating a schedule or a certain window of reading time each day will work for you, try being motivated by other people. Joining a book club is one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re reading every week while also providing a great opportunity to socialize. Knowing you’ll be able to gush over your favorite characters or discuss a book’s shocking plot twist with a group of friends just as excited as you are can make reading even more fun. 

You can find online book clubs, like singer-songwriter Laufey’s club for “book lovers and dreamers,” or local, in-person meetings. The LGBTQIA Resource Center is starting up their quarterly book club with “This Is How You Lose the Time War,” and “Legends & Lattes,” while the Avid Reader hosts a monthly, after-hours Romance Book Club. 

Let your readings interact with one another

Another tip that might get you more motivated to not only read your own books, but the books and texts assigned to you in class, is to think about them in relation to one another. No matter what two things you’re reading — a history book and a sci-fi novel or a psychology research paper and a comic book— you can find ways to relate them to each other. 

By connecting the two books in your head, you might find that it makes your academic reading more exciting and entertaining. Use what you learn about social relationships in psychology to think about your favorite character dynamics, or the research you study in physics to better understand imaginative world-building in fantasy novels. 

Don’t forget about audiobooks

One last tip is to remember that audiobooks exist, and can become your best friend when you find yourself short on time. You can listen and absorb a story on the bus, your walk to class or while cleaning your apartment. Sometimes it can be hard to feel productive when you’re just sitting and reading a book, but if you listen to an audiobook while completing other small tasks, you’re able to maximize your time and still be entertained. 

You can find audiobooks through audible, for free with a library card through Libby, or even on YouTube. You can also try looking for audiobooks read by familiar voices or actors you might be a fan of, like Lola Tung’s reading of “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” or Michelle Zauner’s narration of her own memoir “Crying in H Mart.” 


Depending on the type of reader you are, some of these tips will be more successful than others. If you’re someone that likes to pay close attention to what you’re reading and tune out the rest of the world for a little while, you might enjoy the idea of creating a reading schedule the most. If you want to balance your reading with getting out of the house and socializing more, joining a book club might be best for you. 

No matter the obstacle or end goal for you, hopefully giving at least one of these tips a try can help to kickstart your reading journey this quarter. 

Written by: Savannah Anno — arts@theaggie.org


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