LitRx: Beating the Back-to-School Reading Blues

This back-to-school edition of our advice column LitRx answers two agonized academics and their plight of not getting enough reading time on campus.


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All Lit Up presents LitRx, literary prescriptions for all of life’s problems. If you have a question about books, life, booklife, or any of those permutations,  send us a question. If selected, we’ll post it, anonymously, and give you an answer (and maybe a book suggestion, too) that we hope really helps.This edition’s question(s):I’m finding the “well-read academic” trope to be a little impossible lately. How am I – with 13 papers due this semester alone – supposed to keep up on pleasure reading?–Flooded English Degree University Personi’m an english major and i never, ever, read anymore. what?–Hurry Up Reading WeekDear FEDUP and HURW,Oh, goodness, we’ve been there. Literally any reader you know with a degree (or diploma, certificate, or children – this isn’t just limited to University-bound folks) knows what it’s like to see your precious reading time get eaten up by something just as precious – in this case, your education. As that four-month wall calendar gets filled up with exams and assignments, the books you aspirationally brought to your dorm room to read (or, at least to fulfill John Waters’ expectations) are starting to taunt you.It’s a special predicament for you English majors, who are always reading but not necessarily pleasure-reading. It probably goes without saying that those few moments that you don’t have a deadline breathing down your neck or a test to study for are not ones you want to spend with still more words on pages. BUT – also as English majors, you’re uniquely privileged in getting what you want to read on the academic agenda.In fact, there’s a huge push for not just the classics on Canadian University syllabi. From the University of British Columbia’s “Our Modern Medieval: The Song of Ice and Fire as contemporary Medievalism” Game of Thrones class to the “Popular Potter” course at University of Waterloo, and scores more, besides, academic institutions are shedding their stodgy, high-literature skins for reading lists that showcase every shelf in the bookstore. Even in classes not dedicated exclusively to fantasy series, you’ll find that more professors are inclined to allow you to study your favourite books, rather than (just) theirs. Fair warning, though, choosing your all-time fave to examine for your undergraduate thesis may make you hate it.Also, you don’t just have to force your professors’ hands on this one: try reading poetry! Graphic novels! Plays! Books in all three of these categories only take about 1-2 hours to read through and still give you that surge of completionist adrenaline, not to mention a lot to chew on.And, while it does seem a little glib to be saying this on September 5th, there’s also always summer to get some serious reading in.Good luck with your studies, FEDUP and HURW, and yours in reading,LitRx* * *Got questions for our agony author? Submit them here. For more literary advice, click here.