How To Keep Up With Your TBR While You're Studying

by Emma Oulton

Keeping up with the massive stack of books on your bedside table can be a challenge at the best of times — but when you're at school, college, or grad school, your TBR list can get totally out of control. As someone who's just started a Master's, I can empathize; my reading pile has gone through the roof. But book-lovers, don't be disheartened: you can keep up with your TBR while you're studying — and I'm going to tell you how.

Outside school, you no doubt have a very personal system for getting through your TBR. Some people follow a strict order; others pick up whatever takes their fancy — but we can all relate to the shudder that goes down your spine when somebody tries to mess it up. So when you start a new semester and get handed a list of 25 books that you have to read before the next test, it's not ideal. Jane Eyre is great and all, but I really had my eye on some thrillers this Halloween instead.

But all is not lost. With a bit of determination, you can stay on top of your required reading and fit in some reading time just for fun as well. It is possible to ace your exams as well as sounding intelligent at dinner parties when you drop in that you've been reading the latest Man Booker prize-winner The Sellout . Here are my secrets.

1. Listen To Audiobooks

It might seem like reading your class texts takes up every second of your time as it is — but if you download a few audiobooks, you'll be surprised how much more reading time you can squeeze in. With headphones in, you can listen to the The Girl on the Train while you do the dishes, or walk to the bus stop, without sacrificing a moment of your studying time.

2. Read In Bed

An hour or so before bed is the perfect time to read one of your personal choices. It's a great way to unwind and get a much-needed good night's sleep, and you'll be too tired to make any very good notes for school anyway!

3. Put A Book In Your Handbag

When you have a book to hand at all times, it's amazing how much more reading you can get done. Think of all those unexpected moments that happen throughout your day — like when your train is delayed, or when the line at the supermarket is particularly long. Pulling a paperback out of your purse will make your wait much less boring, and it will help you get through even more of your reading list.

4. Suggest A Class Book

If there's a particularly tempting book in your TBR, why not suggest that the whole class reads it? If you can make a persuasive argument for why everyone should read Emma Donoghue's new thriller, you'll be killing two birds with one stone.

5. Pick Out The Shortest Books From Your TBR

When you can only sneak in a few minutes a week of personal reading, it can be pretty daunting trying to read a massive tome. My advice: save those for the holidays. During term time, it's much more fun if you can race through a whole book on a free afternoon — even if it's just a 10-page graphic novel, you're still making good TBR progress.

6. Play The "Try A Chapter" Game

When your TBR is getting unreasonably long, it might be time to clear out a few books. Your class books might be compulsory, but your personal reading time should be strictly for pleasure. When you get a free hour or so, read the first chapters of a few of the novels you've been hanging onto for a while; you may find that some of them don't capture your attention as much as you'd hoped. Not only can you reduce the scary size of your TBR pile, you can also make some other book-lovers very happy if you donate your unwanted books to your local library or charity shop.

7. Just Do It!

Your studies are important, but they shouldn't take over your whole life — and they definitely shouldn't impact on your mental health. If reading a book of your choice for 30 minutes a day is what keeps you afloat, then let go of your guilt and give yourself that time. Even if you're just reading Harry Potter for the fifty-first time, your brain will still be keeping busy — and you'll go back to your studies more invigorated and ready to learn than ever.

Images: Jennegen26/Instagram; Giphy (4)