Tips for Grads: For the love of reading

By Olivia Gacka, PhD Student

It seems to be very common that avid readers lose their once-innate pleasure reading habits when they come to graduate school. I am certainly one of those people, having gone from reading probably a book a week to still being on page 45 of the book I started the day before classes began. Losing the energy for what was once a daily activity and great solace to me was jarring, and it took a lot to build back the habit in the face of all the responsibilities and workload that grad school brings. If you’re someone who wishes you had more time for pleasure reading in graduate school, read on for some ideas on how to incorporate it into your busy schedule!

  • Micro breaks: Whether you’re on the bus for only three stops, in the line at the grocery store, or have just two minutes to kill before you’re meeting a friend, micro breaks can be the perfect time to sneak in a few pages of reading. To accomplish this, my favorite app is Libby, which you can access with a free public library card. It’s much more convenient than carrying a book in your bag, and perfect for times when you don’t have your bag on you. My preferred mode on Libby is using eBooks as opposed to audiobooks, so I can get in a few pages when I’m waiting in line surrounded by people. Whichever method you choose, you can “check out” your read for a certain amount of time as you would a library book. It’s a great way to support the library and get to read for free. Long lines used to make me antsy, but now I actually look forward to them!
  • Small breaks: Despite the fact that I was just waxing poetic about how much I love reading and wish I had more time for it, I am absolutely guilty of using all of my current free time that I do have on Netflix, or anything equally mind-numbing where I don’t have to exert much effort. I’ve found that the key to combatting this is making sure that whatever book I’m reading is as fun and “mindless” as what I’m watching on Netflix. While I usually love a good political biography or nonfiction, this semester I’ve had better luck in putting down the remote and picking up a book if I know it’s something less cerebral, like a comedian’s memoir or even a re-read of an old favorite.
  • Winter break: With this upcoming break between the semesters, now is the perfect time to pick up a book just for fun again! The Office of Professional Development is hosting “Go Big Read for Grads”, where participants can pick up a free copy of the Go Big Read selection of the year (“Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi) from any of the UW Library locations and read the book over the winter break. Then, join us for a discussion on January 21, facilitated by an Information School graduate student and accompanied by pizza and hot chocolate.

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.