THE BLOG
08/06/2013 10:09 am ET | Updated Oct 06, 2013

How to Survive Summer Reading

The two words every student groans at when ending any school year is "summer reading" -- especially since at the end of the school year, the last thing we want to think about is homework. No, sir. Despite that fact, by the time August rolls around, students start to scramble to finish reading all of those books and completing all of those additional writing assignments. Summer turns us into the biggest procrastinators.

Not every book teachers have us read are drag-your-feet boring, though. All of the books I had freshman year were interesting and amazing, and the same goes for most of the books I had for sophomore year. Sophomore year was the first year I actually got summer reading since I moved to a new city and school where the teachers actually gave out summer reading. Seeing as I only moved a few days before school started, though, my summer reading basically became homework on top of the homework I got the rest of my classes, and every assignment I couldn't complete because I hadn't finished the book became additional homework on my plate. That was completely awful and a million times worse than summer reading actually done in the summer.

You don't have to be excited to do your summer reading and assignments. However, you don't have to torture yourself through it, either. There are a few quick tips that can make it all just a little less painful.

• Don't wait until five days before school starts -- even procrastinating until a few weeks before school starts is a better fate than waiting until the very last minute.

• Find that sweet spot to start working where it's not so early in summer you'll forget everything you read by the time you go back to school but it's not so late that you feel too rushed and can't pace yourself. It helps to know how much you have to read and/or write and to know how quickly you can read, annotate, and work.

• Don't start complaining before you even begin. If you start going on about how awful the book is going to be or how much you don't want to do the writing assignment, the entire fiasco is already spiraling downhill before you even begin, and it's all going to seem that much worse. Instead, try to get yourself pumped up and tell yourself it's not going to be bad and that you can do this -- a positive mindset will get you through without feeling like you want to die every five minutes. A bad attitude won't get you anywhere, and it'll only encourage procrastination.

• Get a good idea of what your book is about before your begin reading. If you understand the basic plot and themes, it'll help keep you from getting lost or confused, especially if it's a complicated book with a lot of archaisms and allusions. Also, while you're doing your research, find out why the book is highly acclaimed or why people like it.

• If your summer reading book seems like a complete bore, try to find interesting trivia about the book or author. Find any interesting facts on how the author first started, what problems the book went through before it was published, the success of the book, famous people who have read the book, or anything else that may interest you. Look at pictures of places in the book or illustrations people have made for the book. Let your curiosity soar, and the more interesting things you find related to your book, the more interesting the book itself may seem.

• Space your work. Take it apart and take the assignments little by little, gradually increasing the amount you do. This will help keep you from getting immediately overwhelmed, and the slowly increasing amount of work will help you get back into school mode so you don't get completely shocked when the load drops on you.

• Set your goals. Set reading goals to reach by the end of each day or each week to keep yourself on track! This will also help you space out your homework!

• Find something to motivate you. Some people need an extra motivation to get them through. Try setting up a reward system for reaching your daily goals like getting a little treat or find something you really want and only let yourself buy after you successfully finish your summer reading assignment. You know yourself best- what will motivate you?

• Give yourself periodic breaks. Don't work your butt off for hours reading or working on assignments. Make sure you give yourself short breaks every now and then, clear your mind or take time to reflect on what you just read, and get a snack in you to keep your energy up!

• Read in a way that suits your learning style. If you're reading a summer book, find some way to do it that works best for you. If you need to be interactive with the next and read it out loud or act out any dialogue, do so. If you just need a quite environment, make it happen. You can also find audio versions of just about any book -- you can listen to them in the car or when you're bored, and you can read along, as well. The bottom line is to do whatever works best for you.

• If you're reading a book and absolutely hate it, you can at least try to appreciate the quality of the writing itself or the messages behind it. When a book doesn't necessarily ring my bell, I can usually at least respect all of those rhetorical devices and structures the author used or the beautiful writing or the style and so on. Anyone can have an appreciation for great writing. You can also respect the deeper messages and the use of symbolism and archetypes, too. In fact, the meaning behind the book is always my favorite part about reading, whether it's Nicholas Sparks showing us the power of love or Dante giving us lessons on the worst crimes a person can commit in life, such as becoming a traitor to your benefactor.

Do whatever you need to do in order to succeed. This list isn't foolproof and not everyone is going to find it helpful, but hopefully there are some tips you can try to use. Don't be afraid to test different methods and alter them as you go! Make them your own techniques! The main goal is to get through that summer reading assignment! Good luck!

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