Reading in College

girl-student read a textbook.

Photo Credit: Eduard Titov

Two things before I continue. First, I know there are some people who don’t go to college. Second, I know every college experience is different.

A very common post here on WordPress is how little time college kids have to read. Obviously I’m not talking textbooks or journal articles, I’m talking books written by their favorite authors. I’ve seen this exact post dozens of times. Let me tell you about my 2012 calendar year.

Spring semester – 18 credit hours (Jan.-May)

Spring mini-mester – 3 credit hours (May)

Summer – 15 credit hours (June-Aug.)

Fall semester – 18 credit hours (Aug.-Dec.)

Winter mini-mester – 3 credit hours (Dec.)

Okay. One would think that I wouldn’t have any time to read at all, right? Eh. Wrong. Even though most college students have right around three months off for summer and another 4-5 weeks during the holidays, I had neither. But I managed to read 44 books that year. My best ever.

I found the time to read 44 books during a calendar year in which I took 57 credit hours while working weekends. I think we can agree that most college students are not taking that many hours. The point of this post is to say that there really is no reason for someone to say they don’t have time to read in college. Cause it’s just not true. I’m talking undergrad here.

12 thoughts on “Reading in College

  1. I agree to some extent. I am taking 16 credit hours right now in the fall and I took 12 last spring, but I have read about 60 books this year so far. I will say that being an English major kind of allows me to cheat because my classes require a lot of novel reading, but I still read some other books solely for pleasure. However, I will say that I still wish I could read more of my own choices.

    Interesting post! I like that you are taking the opposite opinion of most people 🙂


  2. Honestly, I don’t know how many books I read during undergrad, but I know it wasn’t that many. I probably had the time, but not the routine. I read every night before I go to sleep, in undergrad I know I was watching TV before I went to bed. I took full loads, I worked, took summer school, had a serious relationship, and I took care of my horses every day. And when I wasn’t doing any of that, I was reading for class. I think I was so tired of reading class material that I didn’t want to read anything else. I think how much you read will also depend on your degree, I was a history major, so I was constantly reading. And since I had to get glasses in college because I was reading so much, when I was done with class work I didn’t want to ready any more.

    So it’s certainly doable, but not always preferable.


    • This was similar to my experience as well, although I studied English. At least by junior/senior year, I’d say the workload (in terms of reading) approached the workload in grad school (and I definitely didn’t have much free time then). Roughly a novel per week for each English course, so probably 2-3 books a week on average, with some give for longer works. I read a lot during vacations, and if I had really disciplined myself I probably could have managed to do some side reading during the semester, but I think that no matter how much you like reading, you’re bound to burn out at some point. Of course, the plus side is that I got to read all of those assigned novels under the guise of working.

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  3. I rarely accept reasons why people don’t have time to write. I know plenty of people with schedules much busier than mine who still find time to read. College is no exception. I was insanely busy in college, just like you, had plenty to read for class, but still, books were always there. I may have not read as many books per year then as I do now, but I certainly kept reading all the way through college. I honestly don’t know how people can give it up.


  4. I don’t know much about the American college system, but I’m guessing that’s a full study load. I’m at university and since I was doing a Bachelor of Arts (History and English), I only had 10 contact hours a week tops… but of course, a ton of reading and writing to do on top of that, plus doing extra units and extra credits. I still have consistently read 60+ books each year of my degree (including ones for uni, but not ones I read part of).
    I think I’m helped by the fact that I don’t watch many movies or much television. But I definitely get burnt out, as I have this semester, where reading was torturous. I’m still recovering, two weeks on!


  5. 44 books! That is amazing! I am lucky if I read 4 non-school related books during my year. (Okay I am not that bad! More like 20). Thank goodness those days are done! I put way more time into my writing though, so a world of trade offs, I guess.


  6. I had plenty of semesters with 14-15 hours that were harder than semesters with 18-21 hours. It just depended on if I was taking 15+ hours of mostly humanities vs. a semester that included two or more classes of Organic Chemistry, Calculus, Physical Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy….Also, I had 1-2 lab classes every single semester in college. In my senior fall semester, I was in lab 20+ hours a week. And like you, I had a weekend job too. So I think every major, and every school, has different expectations for time commitment. My best friend majored in anthropology at NYU and she was even busier than I was, but anthropology was a freebie major at my school. *shrug*

    Funny though, cause literally every college student will say they’re “busy,” but half of them still have time to get wasted and take weekend trips and lead sports clubs. Obviously everyone defines “busy” differently. I don’t know how my busyness stands up to other people, but I know that I barely had time to sleep most days. I know now that reading helps me be a better writer, as I lost so much of my skill during that four year hiatus. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. I think that if you want to do something, you’ll make time for it, but I didn’t want to read badly enough. I had other things on my free-time priority list.

    Nowadays, I have no excuse for my lack of reading. I still don’t read as much as I’d like, but I did manage to read a few books this year. At least I feel like I’m somewhat “in the loop” now as far as the literary world goes.


  7. I am Currently in my third year of college taking 18 credits. I love reading but its something that I’ve either done consistently or not at all. I think maybe in another post itd be helpful to give tips as to how to balance that work load and still get time in to read. I agree with everything youre saying and am very impressed with your reading stamina but I think maybe next time itd be more helpful to know how you did it successfully, so we can too.


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