A room full of piles of books.

January 22, 2020, by UoN School of English

Reading: A Guide for Undergraduates

With most English undergraduates taking six modules per year, and each module carrying its own hefty reading list, it can be difficult to know how best to stay on top of such a daunting workload. Most of us are taking this course because we love to read, but finding time to read for pleasure can seem impossible. Here are a few tips for managing that ‘To Read’ stack without letting it take over:

A hand holding up a pile of five books.

Image credit: Thought Catalogue

Use your summer wisely.

The long summer months are a great opportunity to read some of the meatier texts you will be studying in the coming year. While official reading lists tend to be uploaded towards the end of August, module conveners will happily supply you with a provisional list when asked. Choose the longest and most daunting texts from these lists to tackle while you have the time and space – it’s difficult to spend three weeks slogging through Ulysses during term, and this will give you a chance to reflect on what you have read.

Plan ahead.

Once the term has begun, do your best to stay one step ahead of the course. You should aim to have finished each text a week before you study it, so that if anything else comes up, or a text takes longer to read than expected, you won’t get snowed under straightaway.

An open book on a table next to a pile of books, a cup of tea and a plant.

Image credit: freestocks.org

Balance your books.

Reading over the summer and planning ahead should give you some free time in between set texts to read books of your choosing. These should not all be course-related, but you will find that anything you read will feed into your writing in some way. Think carefully about which books will offer respite from academic reading, and which will challenge you to think further about what you are studying.

Sasha Gardner is a third year English student at the University of Nottingham.

Posted in Tips/Advice/Guidance