I have only bought one book since starting university and that was only because I had been given a book voucher. If I’m too frugal to pay for a bus to uni when it’s raining, I certainly can’t bring myself to buy a book when I have access to a library full of them. Despite being more frugal than many, I do value my resources highly. I am just lucky enough to have all the resources I need for my course in my university’s library. For my degree, International Relations, most of our readings are available in print form in the library and the rest are available as ebooks or journals online.
I have 4 different modules each term and on average, my lecturers probably set us about 3 or 4 core readings to do each week. The lecturers post them on our VLE along with a long list of additional readings and the occasional youtube video. This means that I am expected to I have done over 120 core readings each term in total! In reality, I usually find myself reading one of the core texts in depth and skim reading the others. I am most likely to choose to read a journal over book chapters because I often find journals tend to be informative and have more condensed arguments. However, for assignments rather than class discussions, books are just as useful as they provide huge amounts of information. Ultimately, for the weekly core readings I want to have the most time efficient option (short and to the point) whereas for assignments I want to have the most informative and broad option, albeit more time consuming.
I expect my readings to inform me about the topics I’m learning about as well as providing me with opinionated standpoints for me to use as discussion points. If I feel like I have learned a lot from a reading and it has provided me with an interesting perspective I am able to participate in my seminars’ discussions with confidence. But if, like many readings we are set, a reading is extremely dense, long and lacks a clear argument, I feel like it wasn’t worth my while. I like to take notes on my readings because they are often so long that I don’t absorb and remember all of the information and it’s good to have something to refer back to, though this adds to the length of the task significantly.
I do try to read as many of the core readings as possible but I often find it hard to prioritise readings over assessments, particularly around the assessment period towards the end of term. The enthusiasm and free time at the beginning of term means that I am more likely to do more of the core readings, but the tiredness and busyness at the end of the term often means that I will do the bare minimum and if there is a short Youtube video on our VLE with our core readings, I might just have time to watch that and not to any readings.