Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Reading Assignments

Are you saddled with a reading assignment you just can’t seem to enjoy? Not every book you have to read for school is going to be a page-turner, but there are several ways to get through a book that reads a bit slow. Keep these tips in mind for the next time you hit a brick wall in a novel:

Isolate the aspects you do enjoy about the book.

Even if a book is a real snooze-fest, there might be an aspect or two that piques your interest. Be on the lookout for these details and make a note of it when you find one. Keeping track of them will pay off—these are great starting points for an essay. Who knows, you might notice a detail that others miss!

Develop a translation guide.

If the book is written in a more old-fashioned style of English that reads a bit slowly, develop a translation guide in your head. Figure out what the author is actually writing about and translate it into your own words as you go along. This might not make the novel fly by, but it’ll help put the novel into your own terms and keep it from becoming a more boring and alienating experience.

If you’re feeling creative, try to visualize it as a movie with your favorite actors, or imagine how your favorite graphic novelist would draw a particular scene.

Read a review of the book.

Perhaps you don’t quite know why this is famous or important, and who can blame you if it hasn’t quite knocked your socks off? That doesn’t mean there aren’t other people out there who know just why this book is so important. If you read an impassioned review or critique, it might help you understand just why teachers keep assigning these books. And that can help you appreciate what the author was aiming to accomplish and figure out what the big deal is about the book.

Plus, if you can track down a review that was written when the book was published, you’ll probably score points with your teacher for mentioning it in class.

Read for longer stretches of time.

Sometimes a good novel just takes a while to get going. If you keep putting the book down after just 10 minutes, block off an hour of time and dig in for the long haul. You never know when a novel might hook you, and it will be easier to keep track of important details if you immerse yourself in it fully.

Discuss the novel with a friend.

Why face it alone? If someone else in class is reading the novel, discuss the parts you’ve read together. This may help completing the book and you might find something compelling in the story itself—your friend’s perspective can put a fresh spin on a work of fiction.

There are always going to be books for school that seem like a chore to read. Sometimes a book just isn’t your cup of tea, but it’s important to have a good grasp of all your reading assignments for class. Although you might not enjoy every novel you read for class, you’ll be sure to be successful when it comes to completing class assignments.

What are some novels that you’ve struggled through? What’d you do to make it through them?


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