What Are You Reading Today?

The American Kennel Club says there are two kinds of collie dogs; the boundlessly energetic kind, and the couch potato kind. My darling Jelly Bean can be exuberantly bouncy and frisky. She loves playing and long walks as much as any pup but she also loves to be comfy. Snowy, cold days have little appeal for her. She prefers seeing the new fallen snow settling on her garden through the window, and would much rather be snuggled up on the sofa than romping around in the drifts. Right now she is curled up under her warm, fleece blanket snoozing away the early morning hours, and occasionally stealing a peep to watch me write. She is definitely not a ‘morning’ dog at any time of year, no matter what the weather is like.

It is quite early in the morning here now. The pre-dawn hours, especially at this time of year, is my favorite time to read and study.  The Thanksgiving holiday we enjoyed last week is finally over. It feels a little like the ‘long eighteenth century’ because, for my family, it lingers a bit. For us the holiday begins in mid November with several birthdays to celebrate and ends with the house emptying of relatives as the month closes. Just as soon as the ‘Long Thanksgiving’ is over my thoughts settle on serious study and what I will be reading for the next several weeks.

The feeling of serenity and contentment that comes as life returns to normal after the family festivities is somehow compatible with the cold, quiet, winter mornings, and intensified study efforts. I love the crisp, clear, deep blue start to the days, especially looking out through my frosty windows. It is the perfect time to settle in with some good books. Happily I have quite a few of them on my desk, and the cold, keeping us in doors, is perfectly timed with my increasing academic demands. What I am reading becomes intensely important now because my ‘exam count down’ begins this weekend.

My count down to exams begins on 1 December.  On Saturday there will be twenty weeks until exams in May. Until now I have been reading widely in each of the four units that I plan to enter exams for come spring. Now it is time to narrow my focus and begin some proper research. This term I devised a more detailed plan about approaching the work. My plan is more detailed in terms of both my daily schedule and the content I expect to cover over the next few months. Working it out has been a little hectic, because I do like to read something for each unit every day, along with a bit of theory and criticism. ‘What are you reading today’ will be a very powerful question in a few days time.

Reading something from each unit every day helps me to make comparisons between literary periods, and to compare and contrast texts within each unit. I know I have said that before, but you should try it. It is astonishingly effective. It also helps me feel connected and engaged to the work, which is very reassuring. Reading some theory along with my primary texts helps me keep a critical and analytical perspective with regard to creative works, and also helps me develop a better understanding of literary criticism, which is incredibly reassuring, especially as May draws near.

What I am reading fills about four hours of my day. That is a lot of time. Getting up early to read and study on these cold, wintry mornings, even if Jelly Bean thinks it is positively uncivilized, lets me start the day by asking myself the important question ‘What are you reading today?’ Then, after a good study session, I have all day to really think about it…

Caowrites is studying our BA English by distance learning in the USA.

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