Every struggle of reading a book you hate

If you’re an English Lit student, for you, reading is probably two things at once: 1. your favourite thing in the world, the reason you chose your degree, and the best way to relax, and 2. the bane of your fucking life. Sure, when you’ve got the right book and it’s for fun, it’s a great way to pass the time. But when it’s a coursebook for your least favourite module and it’s 500 pages long, reading can be a bitch.

When you literally can’t remember any characters at all

Thank the lord for books with character lists at the beginning (God bless you, Leo Tolstoy). Because you can get to page 300 and some random guy from page 3 will pop up again, and you’ll be expected to remember who they are, and you’ll end up skimming back through the book trying to remember what their place in the story is again. Or you’ll get confused and think Character 1 is Character 2’s sister but Character 1 is actually Character 2’s wife. Though tbh if it’s Game of Thrones you’re reading then there’s every possibility that Character 1 is both Character 2’s wife and sister.

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When you come to your senses halfway through a page and realise nothing has gone in

Everyone has this moment where you just kind of ‘wake up’ and you think… “hang on, what did I just read?” And you flick back to try and find the point where you dropped off but tbh, you haven’t been paying attention for the whole book, so who really cares where you pick up again? It’s not going to make sense either way.

When you try to focus really hard… but you still don’t get it

You’ll see the words, and understand the words… but together, in a sentence? For some reason, your brain can’t compute. You can read fine usually… but Derek Walcott just has a way of stringing words together in an order you can’t understand. Enjoy having a slight crisis as you struggle on, doubting your choice of degree and even your basic literacy skills.

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When you fail to understand why any author would have a sentence that lasts half a page

Seriously, why? Your tutor tells you off when you use too many semicolons instead of starting a new sentence – so why can Dickens get away with it? It just isn’t fair, tbh. No one can be expected to pay attention for that long. No one’s brain is that advanced.

When you actually start getting into it… but then something distracts you

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You’ll really try, and then there’ll be a sentence that you actually understand. You’ll read on, gripped now by the prospect of actually getting something out of this otherwise miserable tome, actually understanding the words, getting a sense of the plot and characters at last… and then your mum will come in and ask you to do the dishes. Or your phone will ring. Or your dad will start the vacuuming. And the spell will be shattered. It was nice while it lasted, though, right?

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