7 Ways to Become a Better College Reader

A good writer would force readers to take less notice of the surroundings while a great writer would make readers forget the world. The term taught college students that strategies should help them finished a book in a week if not two. It may not be good enough, so this season of discontent, which is summer, should be an opportunity to find ways to become a better college reader. How?

At first glance, it seems impractical to be a heavy reader during the summer. The easing of restrictions prompts many to go to the malls and check out how a pair of jeans are being folded. (It seems trivial, if not silly, but it can create more space in your room.) The warmer weather may lead many to think that there's no need to wear face masks and observe the basic rules in social distancing, which a blight public figure had shown these last few months, yet there's an air of uncertainty. You've heard that borders opened in Europe, which would allow traveling by land (at the least). It's not an encouraging sign after you heard the latest news. (The United States Tennis Association won't cancel the US Open, supposedly the final major tournament of the year. However, players aren't allowed to bring along their entourage, which the likes of Novak Djokovic would do. And there won't be any fans. It would be a different Open, as the cheers, as well as whistles, make the US Open more exciting than the other major tournaments.) Whether you're about to enter your second (or third) year or you're a graduating student (or a college graduate), the pandemic narrowed down your options. You may have more time for Netflix, but reading would be better.

Reading theories or long novels (like "Moby Dick") won't be exhausting if you bid your time. You have little time during the previous term, so you intend to become a better reader next term. It would be better to plan your reading and attempt on other strategies, next month. You may focus less on writing after getting a helpful tip from Neil Gaiman. (Writing is like driving through the fog, with one headlight on.) It's about trusting your instinct.

You're Having Difficulty in Reading a Book, So Ask Yourself These Questions

Are you curious about a book? You read for enjoyment (e.g. Fantasy), knowledge (e.g. sci-fi), or escapism (e.g. Young-adult). There's nothing wrong with any of it, but the coursework can't give you that luxury. If you're lucky, you get the chance to write an essay on the TV viewers' interest in 17th-century England. Curiosity may not enable you to finish an assigned novel in a week, but this season should put those what-ifs aside. Choose a literary genre that you've been wondering these past months, and then make a shortlist of titles you want to read. If you lose interest after a few chapters, it's OK. Focus your attention on other things. (You're curious about the virtues of cucumbers, yet you can't decide if you must rub it all over your body.) Go back to that book after a day or two, if not a week. You have learned that your interest in the plot would grow after the sixth or seventh chapter, but...

Are you allowed to give up on a book? Yes. However, this is not an option during the term. You might not like that short story about the dark side of the enigmatic figures in Easter Island and you're not open to a silly tale about a bitter professor whose name is Wolf Woof, which is fine. You don't have to force yourself unless you want to challenge yourself. (You haven't explored all the corners of the local library.) The lockdown taught you to enjoy the moments, which include reading. It would be another thing if you're leaning to online learning. 

How to read more deeply? The answer can be determined in three ways: you keep on backtracking on previous chapters, you frequently look at the online thesaurus, and you have a notepad, where you list down the pages that contain your favorite quotes. These aren't discouraging signs, yet you must wonder if you can finish a book. Time flies fast, and you might not notice the changing of the colors of the leaves. You can take your time, but try a different approach next time. Set a goal, and plan your schedule accordingly. If you meet that goal, reward yourself. (The bowling alley might be opened next month. There might be a risk, but there's nothing wrong in checking it out first. You can also get a haircut, if not go to the gym. You have enough of the sedentary lifestyle.)

Do you read critically? If you do, you would be the toast of Zoom parties. There were previous instances when you stopped and asked yourself (after reading several chapters). It took you the entire term before you realized that you were on the right track. You can't agree on the author's views, so there's nothing wrong with disagreeing. However, it would require additional reading. (And you often have little time for other things.) If you try to be critical about an assigned book, there's a likely chance that you will get a higher mark. (The human brain is more than a sponge.) It doesn't translate in good writing, though. Listen to Neil Gaiman's advice one more time.

Do you read more socially? Reading demands solitude, which is the only way to enjoy it and appreciate the book. You have the option to reveal your opinion on a blog, if not post it on social media, but a conversation would be better. You knew it after your first group discussion (with your course mates). It can be stimulating, also make you find out that you overlook a certain chapter. And there's a possibility of making new friends. In other words, this kind of discussion would help you articulate the reasons you like a book (or why you hate it). There's no room for ambiguity or the lack of comprehension, assured that there's no such thing as right or wrong answer. You can also check the author on social media, but keep your fanboy (or fangirl) on check.

Have you enhanced your post-book experience? If you still don't have a clue, you must recall the time when you decided to get out of your comfort zone. No need to worry if you haven't done it yet. It's more of a learning process, as you get to know more of a particular author and his (or her) works or a particular genre. You may have done it during the term, but the conditions are much different during this summer. If you truly like reading, then you might become obsessed with journals and reading log. There are other things to do, which should help you prepare for the next term.

Do you want to make a living on writing? Neil Gaiman pointed out the mist would clear out once in a while, which should be your cue on writing more (or proofread your draft). You may have got the hang of it last term, but fiction writing would require more than your ability to meet the deadline. Perhaps you should consider postgraduate studies (and not let dissertation writing overwhelm you).

Literary Trips: Why Charles Dickens Would Hate the Lockdown

Reading could make you restless especially if it would be the likes of Charles Dickens. It happened when the author of "Great Expectations" turned 45. It may be the case of a midlife crisis after the English author achieved literary success at a younger age, yet it would exhaust him sooner. The moral lesson is to keep a planner. The uncertainty should force you to enjoy the routine. If you're leading a sedentary lifestyle, then go out. The gym might not be open at this time. And the post should help you learn to love reading. If that happens, coursework will be less stressful.

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