Balancing Reading For Academics & Pleasure From A Fellow College Student

Finding balance is not easy. As a struggling college student who adores reading, it’s definitely a trial and error process when it comes to the balance. Let’s talk.

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I’m going to address the elephant in the room that no one is talking about. Reading is hard. College is hard. Reading in college is even harder. I’m constantly seeing Bookstagram accounts that are doing both (reading and classes), but we aren’t talking about the difficulty of both. I definitely haven’t had the easiest time through college, but I’m here to give you my tips and tricks on how I’ve balanced reading for pleasure and my reading for classes.

Let me give you a little insight into what my college career has been like so you get an idea of what I have had to plan around. I am graduating this December with a BA in English while minoring in Business. For the past few semesters, all of my classes have been writing enhanced, as my university says. By them being writing enhanced, it also means that they’re reading enhanced.

I’m taking five classes right now and every. single. one. is reading and writing enhanced. At any one time, you can find me reading at least four different academic books, along with several academic articles, and writing two or three papers in a week. On top of that, I’m working here at Bookstr and (attempting) to publish articles a few times a week while working behind the scenes with the rest of our time here.

It suffices to say, I’m well-versed in the balancing act that comes with my college and professional career. Here’s how I’ve done it for the past few years.

Scheduling Reading Time

Don’t even come at me with the, “oh, scheduling time to read takes the fun out of reading.” Lies. A bigger lie has never been told. You don’t have to have a rigid schedule to follow, just a skeleton outline of something like, “Okay, I’m doing three hours of homework and then going to take an hour to unwind and let my brain reset before I get back to work.” However, you do have to have enough self-discipline to put the book down when your hour is up.

Notion Can Be Your Best Friend

If you are someone who enjoys a more structured timeframe type deal, then by all means! Being able to find balance is all about what works for you personally. For me, I tend to oscillate between needing a super-defined schedule and having no idea what I’m doing within the next three hours.

Sometimes, you’ll get to the point where you think, “No. I just can’t read for pleasure during the week.” And if that’s the case, then please set that boundary for yourself.

A common thread through this article will be me telling you that the balance is entirely up to you.


Proper TBR Management Is Key

Sometimes my TBR list feels too daunting for me to tackle, so I often have to take a step back from it and reflect on what I’m doing with my life anymore to have almost two hundred books that I want to read… yeah that sentence is kind of what goes on in my head on the daily. If you’re needing a bit of help with your TBR organization and management, we’ve got you covered here.

cr. Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

Reading During The Pauses Of Life

This is a big one, in my opinion. So much of the time, I’ll find myself mindlessly scrolling on my phone. I’m hardly ever doing anything important (I’m not that popular). So if you’re looking over my shoulder, you’ll see me switching between the same three apps.

cr. Where The Books Are

Always Have A Book On Hand

My biggest advice here is that, if you were going to be on your phone anyway, just swap it for a book! In between classes? Read a book! Waiting for your professor to show up? Read a book! Commuting to school? Listen to an audiobook! Or, if you’re taking public transportation, read a book!

There’s absolutely no shame in breaking out a book in public! Even if some of these crazy-covered romance ones like these.

Procrastination Is The Devil, Mama Said That

This is a good way to force yourself to read. By always having a book on-hand, you’ll have no other option but to read.

Always Remember That There are No Guidelines You HAVE To Follow

Like Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” If you’re taking the time and making an active effort to read, then you’re still a reader. That’s one of the big things that I struggle with. Sometimes I feel like if I’m not constantly reading a new book every other week, or posting a new review on Goodreads, then I’m lesser in some way. And that’s just simply not true. There’s no simpler way that I can say this to make it true.

cr. Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Sage Words Of Advice From A College Student

Reading is meant to be fun. Reading (for me) acts as a form of escapism from the stressful life that I lead as a college student. Unfortunately, I’ll get to a point where I think looking at another piece of literature (no matter what kind) will make me want to throw the offending item across the room. So it’s also important to know your limits when it comes to balancing your reading and academics.

Don’t Gauge Yourself By The Amount You Read

The amount of books you read during the semester will struggle. This is pure fact. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about this. Instead, change the narrative.

Gauge yourself by how much you enjoyed the books. By how much you understood the book. By if you would recommend that particular book to your friends.

Set Achievable Goals For Yourself

I think that setting goals are something that everyone should do, for anything they’re doing. Reading especially.

When it comes to homework, reading for pleasure, and balancing a paying job, setting goals and rewarding yourself when you reach those goals will help you get into the habit of being productive. Pavlov, loves!

There’s no sure-fire method for balancing your college coursework and reading books for pleasure. The balancing act is something that you have to decipher yourself. Will it take you a while? Maybe, it did for me. Sometimes it takes doing a 24-hour writing marathon with friends or joining a book club to get you balanced. Keep in mind that you are not lesser for reading less or your reading time slowing.

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