Throughout the past four years of my time as a student of the University of London, I have spent the best part of my summers mulling over reading lists. Don’t you all anticipate the new stationary, new books and new reading lists when exams still seem aeons away? The first day of holidays right after my last exam, I have downloaded the subject guides quite as if on autopilot. It has given me a rush of joy and immense satisfaction to discover in advance what the coming academic year holds for me.
I have come across many students on the VLE asking questions in a similar vein regarding readings:
Do I have to read a lot as a student of the University of London?
Reading is an integral part of degrees such as BA English and the Graduate Diploma in International Relations, the two degrees that I have studied for through the University of London. The answer is yes, you have to read a fair amount of materials. However, it is on par with the expectations of undergraduate and graduate study and it will be a paradox to believe one can course through further studies without reading much.
How much should I read to be able to sit exams with confidence?
Reading lists in our subject guides are organised into essential/primary readings and further/secondary readings. To achieve your course outcomes and be able to approach exams with confidence it is crucial to read all the essential readings. However, when it comes to further readings, there is a lot of flexibility. You can narrow down the list based on topics of your interest and availability of texts. Supplementing these with your own research incorporating more recent publications and additional materials that you can easily access at the local library or journals online will definitely earn you brownie points in assessments.
How do I tackle the extensive reading lists?
It is true that by the end of your cursory glances over subject guides, cumulatively, your list of readings will be overwhelming and appear insurmountable. Don’t worry! The best approach is to start small: pick a book you find interesting that is part of your core syllabus and read a couple of pages every day. It is helpful to get into this rhythm of reading where it gradually becomes a habit and part of your daily activities.
All these are pertinent questions and if there was someone in my first year to give tangible advice I may not have stressed myself too much about trying to read everything on the reading list. You do not have to read everything. While I do advise you to try and read all the essential readings, making informed selections in secondary readings and narrowing down a handful of topics to focus on is the most helpful and practical strategy for success.
On this note, I am sharing with you three books that I have selected for my summer:
- The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
- Ars Amatoria, Ovid
- Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
I would love to know what you are planning to read. Please comment and share your summer reading lists!
Library Book Haul, (own)
Keep Calm and Read On, Dr Seuss