Back to school is one of my favorite times of the year: new stationary + the onset of fall + pumpkin spice flavored everything, what could be better? My college move-in date is right around the corner. Tomorrow, to be exact. And I’m doing anything and everything within my power to procrastinate packing like the responsible human being that I am. In an attempt to further delay packing, what better time to share my experiences with reading and blogging throughout my freshman year of college?
For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently entering my sophomore year of college and am currently on a pre-med track with the aspirations of attending medical school to become a neurosurgeon or trauma surgeon. I’m majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Infectious Diseases, both of which involve an array of STEM-intensive courses that consume the majority of my time. I’m also a member of my university’s Division 1, varsity equestrian team, which successfully eats up the remainder of my spare time. Throw working as a math, chemistry, and biology tutor into the mix, and I begin surviving almost exclusively on coffee. Unfortunately, reading and blogging are some of the first things to get shuffled to the back burner when both my academics and athletics pick up, and I’ve consequently had to adjust some of my reading habits and priorities.
Altered Reading Habits
While in high school, I never planned out monthly TBR piles because I knew that I would instantaneously stray from them. I was primarily a mood reader – I would merely pick up the book that sounded the most appealing at that particular moment and never think twice about my decision. I readily discovered, however, that college didn’t offer the same leniency.
The university which I attend is a 4+ hour drive from my house and located in another state entirely. During my freshman year, I elected not to bring my car to campus (which was a mistake), and it severely limited the number of trips which I was able to make back and forth between campus and my house. Add on a busy horseback riding schedule, and my options were even further restricted. All in all, I made a total of two trips home during the span of nine months (August to May). As a result, I didn’t have the option to frequently swap out the books that I was storing in my dorm room.
I brought a total of twelve physical books to college with me per semester, which required me to strategically plan out my TBR for the upcoming weeks and months. I no longer had the option of cracking open anything on my bookshelf at the drop of a hat, which was fairly disorienting initially. As it turns out, eBooks quickly became my best friend.
eBooks vs. Physical Books
When it comes to dorm rooms, particularly forced triples (i.e. a room that was built for two inhabitants but somehow accumulated three inhabitants), space is at a premium. To make matters worse, I have a fairly tiny car, which isn’t ideal for packing up one’s entire life. And once again, my books drew the short end of the stick. Severely limited by space, I decided to bring as many books as could fit in my Jansport backpack. Talk about self-restraint.
Armed with twelve physical books and my Kindle, I quickly gained a new appreciation for eBooks. Most obviously, eBooks saved a considerable amount of space in my already cramped dorm room, allowing me to go on frequent shopping binges without worrying about where I would put said books. As the year carried on, I also began to recognize the pure convenience of eBooks. My Kindle entirely eliminated the need for me to implore a friend for a ride to the bookstore, as well as allowing me to purchase an ungodly number of books while sitting in my pajamas and drinking hot chocolate at 2am (sleep is for the weak).
Similarly, downloading the Kindle app on my iPhone gave me access to my entire eBook library, regardless of where I was or what I was doing. This came in handy when I didn’t have enough space in my backpack to bring along a book, as well as giving me the opportunity to read for a few minutes while waiting in line at the dining hall, walking to class, etc.
Bookish Purchases While at College
Unsurprisingly, my number of physical bookish purchases plummeted while I was at college. Buying paperbacks or hardbacks was generally more trouble than it was worth, with respect to orchestrating a ride to the bookstore or attempting to catch the bus. For the select handful of books which I desperately wanted to own physical copies, Amazon readily became my best friend. Not only were their prices comparable or, in some cases, cheaper than other venders, but I also received free, two-day shipping thanks to my Amazon Prime Student Membership.
In contrast, my eBook purchases skyrocketed exponentially. After a particularly difficult exam or a long week at work, I would reward myself with a new eBook. The perk? Convenience. I could readily buy eBooks on the go, and I wouldn’t have to worry about finding them a home in my already congested dorm room. Furthermore, the book would be delivered to my device within seconds, which instantaneously sated my incredibly impatient, inner child. After all, what’s the fun in buying a book if you can’t begin reading it straight away?
College Reading Schedule
While I possessed considerably more time to read in high school and would often read at strange and irregular intervals throughout the day, I made a concerted effort to incorporate reading into my college lifestyle. Between classes, practices, and work, I rarely had a few moments to myself during the day, let alone enough time to immerse myself in a book. Therefore, I began reading religiously immediately before I fell asleep each night. Depending upon my exhaustion level and my plans for the following day, I would read for anywhere from five minutes to two hours (and yes, I became very talented at nodding off while reading). But most importantly, I was reading. Every day. Without fail.
Picking up a book each night has become so engrained into my daily schedule that I can no longer fall asleep without reading first, even when spending time at home during breaks. Setting aside time to read at the very end of each day ensured that I never ran out of time or became too overwhelmed with academics and extracurricular activities to pick up a book, and it’s consequently played an important role in my reading overall.
For those of you who are in college, what are your tips and tricks for reading while working toward your degree? Regardless of whether you’ve started college, what does your typical reading schedule look like?
I’m a 20 year old college student with a love of reading and a high tolerance for caffeinated beverages. When I’m not wrapped up in my pre-medical coursework, I’m usually engrossed in a fantasy or psychological thriller, interspersed with the occasional young adult novel.