Location, location, location: You have to read 60 pages a night for the literature class you now regret taking. Reading in a quiet, comfortable location – such as your room, or in the library – will help make the experience a little more bearable.
Quietness is most conducive to reading effectively. Music is distracting! Humans cannot multitask (science has proven so). If you must listen to something, try Pandora’s “Classical for Studying” station. The soft, slow instrumentals won’t be as distracting as most other genres.
Reward yourself: after reading for a preset time or chapter number, take a break! Make sure to monitor your time wisely. If you choose to browse Facebook, after your break is up, don’t just close your laptop lid – put your laptop to sleep and keep it far away from you. Do the same with your phone: keep it charging on the other side of the room to avoid the temptation to check it with every little Instagram or email notification.
For the reading itself? Set up a schedule. Count how many pages you can read a night – 30 pages a night for four nights is far easier to handle than 120 pages in one night. Make note of the titles and first and last lines of chapters – these are incredibly important, the author chose to put them there for a reason. What meaning do they add to the text? Don’t be afraid to mark up books you own, either! Highlighters can be your friends.
Now, we all loved to hate active reading in high school, but it is necessary! If you know you will have an essay assignment for a book, and have a general idea of the topic, try collecting relevant quotes as you read. On an index card, sticky note, or word document, make note of the quote itself, page number, context within the story (e.g., “after the protagonist fights with her brother,” “before the library closes down,” etc.), and the importance of the quote itself. Does it reveal a character trait, demonstrate an important motif, etc.? This quote collecting will make essay writing much less painful.
If you find yourself struggling with reading a book you want to read for fun, having set goals can also help. Looking at the prospect of reading an 1100 page long book becomes drastically easier when broken down into tiny segments – the journey of a thousand pages begins with a single chapter!
For more reading and writing tips, don’t forget to come visit us at the Writing Center. Stop by and let us know what you’ve been reading!
-Summer, peer tutor