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Making the most of your Reading List

Ruben Brooke | July 23, 2018

Reading lists are scary things. They will get tougher as you go through your course. In the summer before I started studying philosophy at NCH, I didn’t make as much as I should have out of the reading list. To make amends, I have put together five tips on how to approach the dreaded list.



1. Find the list which is relevant to you. For incoming NCH students, you can find yours here.

2. Work out the purpose of the list. For example, Philosophy majors starting in September are given an exploratory list: knowledge of its contents is encouraged but not required when you arrive in September. This differs from your weekly reading list during courses. There, you will encounter different kinds of classification. Some of my lecturers split readings into introductory, essential and further sections. Your attitude towards the reading will differ in each case.

3. Sequence the readings. Rarely will it make sense to approach a list alphabetically. Work out your preference. Some people like chronologies, others approach by theme, still others read multiple things at once etc.

4. Make notes. This will force you to read closely. It will be tough at the start when you are initially encountering dense, theoretical works. Work through it! Notes help, but strike the right balance: making too many notes creates problems of its own…

5. Don’t stick to the script! For a tutorial-based degree, the important thing is to find your own voice. A good way to do this is to balance out your courses with independent reading. Lists are helpful but approached too rigidly they can stifle individuality. Point five of course applies to this list as well – these are just suggestions. If you have any suggestions of your own drop me a line and I’ll email them out.