How to Hit Your Reading Goals While in College

In the beginning of this year, I was pretty optimistic about 2015: I set myself a reading challenge of 40 books. Maybe this seems like a small number to some of you (YOU GUYS READ SO QUICKLY! At least, that’s the impression I have of most Book Riot writers and readers) but it’s a big one for me since I became an adult. It used to be so easy to read a dozen books in a month when I was a kid and a teenager, but since I’ve had to start doing adult things (you know, work, laundry, cooking food for myself, grocery shopping, etc.) I find myself having less and less time to read.

I was being optimistic because I didn’t know that I would be starting a Masters degree this year, so I had no idea that I would have to read at least a dozen academic journal articles a week. This significantly diminishes my availability to read and my enthusiasm for the very act of picking up a book. My brain and eyes get tired and it’s difficult to get into stories as quickly as I used to.

Two months into my degree, I’ve been struggling to keep up. I am currently one book behind schedule, but at one point I was three books behind! As an anxious person, this really unsettled me. But I think I have finally found ways to keep up while at university and here I am to share my methods with you.

  1. Balance your reading carefully. If you don’t pay attention to how often you’re reading for pleasure and how often you’re reading for your course, you might actually forget there is such a thing as reading for pleasure. Sure, you need to read dozens and dozens of pages for just one class, but consciously make some time to enjoy reading.
  2. Fit your course reading into you reading challenge. Most of the reading I have to do for my degree is a chapter or two of certain books: why not make it really fun and read the whole book when you can / are interested in reading further than necessary? I guarantee it will help you both in your studying and in achieving your challenge.
  3. Short books are key at this pivotal moment. This might be a little shameful to admit but I’ve been making conscious efforts to read quite short books. I read Breakfast at Tiffany’s this weekend! Such a quick read, the plot isn’t difficult to follow and I am almost back on track now.
  4. Short stories can be fun when you can’t follow long plots. I don’t usually like short stories (I’m sorry, okay?) but short stories compilations can be really useful when your mind is all over the place, trying to figure out what to write your dissertation about. I personally recommend that you start with Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History.

I’m really curious to hear if anyone has other advice. I think reading during study breaks and listening to a book during your commute are also good ways to deal with this problem, but they were too obvious for the list above. How about you? How do you cope with your reading challenge during school time?

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