How To Read In College

Several months ago I wrote a post with advice concerning how to blog in college, after being asked to do so by Mawa Mahima @ The Controversies. Many of you have noted that I “do it all” – or seem to, at any rate – and such comments have only increased since I started college. How do I find time to add blogging to my already jam-packed college schedule? Find out here. How do I find time to read in college? This post will explain it all!


1. Realize that assigned texts can count towards a reading challenge 

This is my #1 advice because it truly makes a HUGE difference. If you have to read a particular book for school, then that book can totally count as part of whatever reading challenge you’ve set for yourself! You definitely shouldn’t limit yourself to listing only the books that you read for fun. The reading workload in college is intense, and knowing that all you do can count towards part of your goal is super motivating!

(Personally, I feel bad about counting a book towards my Goodreads reading challenge goal if my professor only assigned three chapters from it because it makes me feel like I’m cheating, but it’s really up to you.)

2. Block out time to read

Set aside a specific chunk of time for reading each day. Write it on your calendar or in your planner, or even set a reminder on your phone if it helps you to remember! Half an hour of reading daily is a decent length of time – not too long and not too short – but you know what can fit into your already busy schedule better than I do. The goal here isn’t to read quickly and get through a ton of pages but rather to have some time intended solely for reading that is free from distractions or prior commitments. College is busy, so enjoy what little time you have to read!

3. Bring a book with you wherever you go

If you always have a book with you, then you’ll never have an excuse not to read! Get in the habit of carrying a book in your backpack or purse, and pull it out whenever you have a spare moment. Have to wait in line? Do something productive with your time instead of looking at your phone.

4. Select books that you know will be short, quick reads

This is a good strategy if you’re trying to meet a reading goal that requires you to read a certain number of books in a given period of time. No, the number of pages you read won’t be very much but as long as you find stories you like, what does it matter if you read mostly short books during the school year?

Here are some types of short, quick read reads I recommend:

  • Graphic novels
  • Comic books
  • Short story anthologies
  • Essay collections
  • Books of poetry

If you want more specific recommendations: Humor. Memoirs. Mystery novels, preferably old ones, preferably something by Agatha Christie. Longish picture books. (Since most are only 32 pages long, all this means is finding one that is, like, twice as long or very text-heavy.) Books under 250 pages. Fluffy, lighthearted YA.

If you’re just in the mood to read SOMETHING and don’t care whether or not it’s a book, pick up a newspaper or magazine. My college provides newspapers for free to anyone with a student or faculty ID, and it’s possible that your school does as well.

5. Save longer books to read while on vacation

We all have that one book we want to read RIGHT NOW, but sometimes it’s best to wait until you can fully enjoy it! It’s hard to pay attention to a really long book, let alone remember key plot details, if you keep taking breaks from reading it… which it what you’ll have to do if you want to have any hope of also tackling all that college homework. Save your binge reads for breaks from school – or possibly even weekends, if you arrange your schedule so that you have a day off each week.

6. Read in the morning to make yourself feel more awake

I totally understand not wanting to face the day right away, as I’m like that literally EVERY SINGLE MORNING. So don’t! Spend a little time reading instead, in order to wake up and get over your morning grumpiness. Who knows, eventually you may even be motivated to wake up earlier in order to squeeze in more reading time!

7. Read at night to calm yourself down

I struggle to get up in the morning, and I struggle to fall asleep quickly at night as well. IT’S ROUGH. One thing that does help a little is reading! In addition to giving you something to look forward to during those evening study sessions, it’s also very relaxing. I usually listen to a classical nighttime playlist or ASMR while I read in bed, but you don’t necessarily have to do that.

8. Join a book club or start one of your own

This is a really fun way to make sure that you allow yourself time to read – and it ensures that you take a break from all that assigned reading, too. I will offer a word of caution, though: You’ll feel super motivated at the beginning of the school year and want to meet up, like, every week. DON’T DO THAT. Schedule meetings for once a month. You simply won’t have time for anything more. Trust me on this. Please.

9. Listen to audiobooks

This totally counts as reading! Listen as you walk to class. Listen on the bus. Listen while you get ready in the morning. Listen before bed, or even in bed. Listen to audiobooks on those afternoons when you come home from class completely drained and just want to veg out for, like, an hour or three – hey, at least you’re doing something productive, even if it’s not homework!

10. Read on public transportation

I have no idea how big your campus is, but chances are you probably take the bus sometimes. Make the most of this time by reading! Ever since I got my license I’ve looked forward to the times when other people offer to drive because it means I can read instead.

11. Read while you eat

Confession time: Eating with other people actually gets on my nerves if it happens too many times in one week. Don’t get me wrong, I love all my friends here at school – but after a while I miss sitting quietly with my book and my dinner!

12. Turn off your phone occasionally 

I’ve been trying to get better at remembering to do this! I get distracted by my phone way too easily and then complain that I never have any time to read, but that’s not true… I just didn’t make good use of my time because I was too busy checking and double-checking Snapchat. Turn it off, leave it at home, or put it on the other side of the room if at all possible so you won’t be tempted to check it while you read.


Finding time to read in college can be really difficult, but it’s definitely not impossible! I hope that you found this post helpful – and maybe even inspirational, if you’ve been struggling to live that bookworm life while in college. I also want to add that these suggestions are by no means limited to college students: They work for any student at any age. Last but not least, if you have any suggestions of your own, I’d love it if you left them in the comments!

P.S. Check out this wonderful post on reading for fun in college by Heather @ Sometimes I’m A Story!


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to How To Read In College

  1. themagicviolinist says:

    Phones are sooooo distracting, even for a motivated bookworm like me. It’s not even because I’d rather check it than reading, I think it’s just because it’s easier? It takes longer for me to orient myself back into the book I’m reading and remember what just happened than it does to quickly check Facebook. NOT GOOD. I make an effort to read whenever I have spare time, even if it takes a little longer.

  2. Great tips! I find that if I just bring a book with me everywhere it helps remind me to read more. 🙂

  3. Mahima says:

    Yes thank you!!! These posts give me life (especially since A-Levels have become to sound a lot like college). I’ve only read one book this entire summer but I’m working on getting more reading in as school begins once again. Point #12 is pretty much gold. I usually do get quite a lot of reading done but I end up reading books-in-progress on Wattpad which frankly isn’t the same as reading paperbacks (and published books) and my physical TBR just gets neglected. So in order to read more books of the published sort I have resorted to switching my phone/internet off and have finally deleted the Wattpad app. Time has never seemed so ample.

  4. Heather says:

    These are great things! I know I’ve adopted some myself over the last year while working. I am the kind who doesn’t count books (or plays) unless I’ve been assigned the whole thing, but I have occasionally felt bad because I don’t always have a way to record things like short stories. I’m still working on whether that’s something I want to keep track of in my life.

    In addition to saving longer books for vacation, I think it’s also helpful to save books that you’re having trouble getting into for vacation. Then, when you’re stuck in the woods with some time on your hands, you’ve got something to go through without any other books to distract you. Audiobooks are also great for me! Since I commute, I like to listen to them on my way to school. 🙂

    (Also, thanks for referencing my post at the end! I really appreciate it. 🙂 )

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