July 31, 2023, by UoN School of English

Keeping up with my contemporary reads whilst studying as an English student

Reading for pleasure can be tricky as an English student. Finding the time to balance the reading that my course prescribes me with my own personal reads is something I have often struggled with. Unfortunately, time and time again I have had to prioritise the reading for my course at the expense of the books I would choose to read for fun. Even if I have found myself up to date with every piece, sometimes the last thing you want to do after a long day of study on campus or at the library is come home to pick up yet another book!  

An arrangement of items including a book, glasses, a cup of coffee and a pink notebook, with black heart cut outs placed over the bookSo what is the solution?  

Here are some potential tips on how to balance your course reading with your own personal reading:  


Give yourself a routine. This does not have to be a strict routine, remember that the purpose of finding the time to read is for your own enjoyment. It could be something you choose to do whilst having your morning tea or coffee; it could be something you decide to do at the weekend when you have more time.  


Pick modules that suit your reading tastes. As an English student, the choice of modules available to you at Nottingham are vast and diverse, especially when entering second or third year. Use your reading taste to inform which modules you decide to select, whether that be a module revolving around modern and contemporary literature, or a module concerning the gothic tradition. Remember that studying English does not necessarily translate to reading lots of Shakespeare or John Donne! By choosing modules with reading that interests you, you don’t have to feel like you’re missing out on personal reading. 


Make the most of your uni holidays! You will have plenty of time over the holidays to indulge in your own reading. That could be cute and cosy Christmas reading or relaxed beach reading over the summer. If you come across a book that you desperately want to read during term time, make a note of it and return to the list again in the holidays.  

A stock image of a woman relaxing on a sun lounger on a beach reading a book


Personal reading doesn’t have to mean a novel. It could be a one-act play or a short collection of poetry that you’ve stumbled upon, or it could be a magazine you enjoy or a wellness book you ritually read before bed. By engaging with shorter literary pieces, you can still provide yourself with the enjoyment and sense of escapism you are seeking, without taking hours out of your day to do so.  

Or even a blog. How long did it take you to read this one? Certainly not long enough to hinder any reading that your course requires of you!  

– Ellie Johnson

Posted in Literature, 1500 to the presentStudent WordsTips/Advice/Guidance