The Books That Helped Me Survive Uni Readings
When you don't want to do your readings... Read other things.
University can sometimes feel like a never-ending nightmare. The moment you get started on your mountain of readings and realise they’re over 50 pages? Clicking that ‘x’ in the corner has never felt so good.
I often found myself alternating between university readings and the young adult or fantasy novel I was reading at the time. These books helped me survive university. If I hadn’t had these characters, these stories, these moments of intimacy and banter, I probably would have failed in my first semester.
Because why read about the philosophy of life when you can read about a protagonist who screws up every aspect of their life.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I’ve loved epic Greek tales since I was a kid, so picking this up felt natural. I found it at a time when I was really struggling with inspiration for my creative writing assessment. So naturally, I stopped writing and started reading.
The reimagined romance between Patroclus and Achilles is breathtaking and heartbreaking. Miller has such a beautiful way of writing – you’ll get addicted in a heartbeat. Needless to say, this novel got me out of my creative writing rut.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I will admit I watched the TV show before reading the book. But bear in mind, the TV show is what drew me to read the novel in the first place. The Handmaid’s Tale is a difficult read, especially as someone who identifies as a woman. I recall sitting on the train only able to read 10 or so pages before feeling sick. I alternated with my readings on cyberspace in public relations, yet always ended up in Offred’s shoes.
Offred’s strength and resilience was inspiring, not to mention a great motivator to get my shit together. It’s one of those books you must read in your lifetime despite what gender you identify as. It’s poignant and so relevant to our current political climate. Just read it, fam.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I discovered a lot of young adult books during my first couple of years of uni, particularly Australian titles. But what really got me invested was this beauty from Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
I’m not a fan of space operas, but this one hit it out of the galaxy for me. You’ve got sass, banter, a deadly virus on a spaceship, and an artificial intelligence who doesn’t listen to you anymore. I’ve never fallen in love with artificial intelligence, nor did I think I could, until Illuminae. It’s damn wild.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Doing your readings at uni is hard, but group assessments are even harder. Imagine a group assessment where you had to steal something from the most impregnable place in the country. That’s what Six of Crows is like, but so much better because everyone pulls their weight (at least, in the end they do).
It’s a steampunk YA fantasy with diverse characters and representation, and killer interaction. I got a real kick out of this despite how stressed I was about the enormous stack of work I did not want to do.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
I have never resonated with a book as much as I did with Radio Silence, and I found it during a time I was, yet again, swamped with uni readings and assessments.
The main character is a professional bullshit artist who overachieves but has no idea what to do with her life after high school. She’s also obsessed with a podcast and does art as a hobby. It’s a heartfelt story of identity, school life, friendship and love. It’s also incredibly relatable.
So whether it’s contemporary, romance, thriller, or young adult, reading a good book while juggling uni can sometimes be the best thing you do when you’re struggling. Reading about someone else’s life, escaping the grind of assessments and academic papers, may the cure for your uni slump. Give it a try.