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How Reading and Annotating For Fun Creates Healthy Study Habits

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Concordia CA chapter.


While we do our best to stay on task for Midterms, we cannot help but find ourselves running into distractions such as Netflix, going out, or hanging out with friends. We will do anything to allow ourselves an escape from those essays taunting us from blank google docs or the fat stack of readings we decided to put off from the previous weeks in the semester. Now, I am not one to deny that I too get distracted sometimes to escape the thought of having to finish my midterms. I believe taking a break is beneficial in the progression of your work. It allows you to clear your thoughts in order to reassess the information given to you for your Midterm assignments or for studying texts. Although, some of these distractions leave us feeling unmotivated to continue where we left off, and we end up putting off the work until the next day, and the next, and maybe even the day after that until we are left with only two days left to write or study for our Midterm. Those poor habits will change if you start introducing this habit as a break between work.


A way we can relieve our minds from our work through a healthy form of distraction is reading for pleasure! Through my personal experience with this, it has helped me build a better work ethic, and it has made me stay on track with my Midterms without let myself fall into the endless black hole of Netflix or YouTube. Although, this goes in saying that not everyone has the same kind of work ethic. Maybe falling into the black hole of Netflix helps you realize that you need to get work done, but for those who struggle with getting back on task, this healthy habit may just do the trick for you. Reading and annotating books that we enjoy can help us progress the way we work by keeping us motivated and focused.


To create this healthy study habit, you will first want to find a book that you are interested in reading. Feeling forced to read something that does not interest or entertain you makes reading feel like a chore. Most of the time reading does feel like a chore because of all the books school has forced us to read for tests, assignments, and as part of the required curriculum. Pull yourself out of this mindset by realizing that there is nothing in the end that you have to do for this book. This book is purely just for your enjoyment. Some places you can go to find a book are at Indigo, Librairie, or second hand bookstores in Montreal. If the book you are looking for is not in store, I suggest going online to Book Depository, Amazon, or Thrift Books.


After you have decided on a book and you have it in your possession, grab some colorful pens for annotating. I suggest staedler pens since they do not bleed through most types of paper compared to stabio pens. Annotating, in my opinion, is the fun part about reading a book. It might not seem fun at first, but once you get in the flow of getting into a conversation with the text you are reading, you cannot help but feel drawn into the world of the story. I also find that using an annotating key with bright, fun colors helps with making it fun to annotate as you read. Once you start annotating through a color key, applying it to school readings will make school work less dreadful than it already is.


An example of the way I devise my key is:

     – Red is for moments that make me angry or it is a scene of conflict

     – Pink is for moments I love or it is a scene of affection

     – Orange is for moments I find funny

     – Yellow is for lines or phrases that stand out to me as something well written or through a         

Personal memory

     – Green is for character description

     – Blue is for moments that are sad

     – Purple is for moments that I believe foreshadow to something later on in the book or important plot points


This is the way I like to organize my annotation key, but this is where the fun comes in getting to personalize your key for how you want to highlight details throughout the book. It also makes it interesting at the end when you have finished your book because then you get to see what was it that stood out to you, and looking back at funny moment you underlined or highlighted makes might uplift you from all the material you have to read for midterms.



After you have designed your annotation key, start reading! A way to go about it in relation to studying and writing for school is to just set a timer for yourself. Figuring out a break and working through set interval times will help you stay on a working streak. I find that 20/30 works for me; 20 minutes of reading and 30 minutes of working. However, 20/20, 10/20, 10/30, etc. might work better for you depending on how you are with staying engaged with a task. Doing intervals will help you develop a working pace because you are running on a timed system and learning how fast you can get through text and writing. Sometimes you might even read or work past your interval time, which is okay to do, but try to make it where you end up working past the working interval time. That way you can treat yourself with more reading time if you find yourself at a really good spot in your book, or you want to know what will happen next.


As a University student, we forget the effect reading a good book for pleasure does to us. Just like films and television, books transport us into a world completely apart from our own. Although, in terms of studying, Netflix will not help us out very much with getting us to continue to study. Unless you happen to be super well disciplined that watching a couple of episodes, maybe even a whole season of a series, will not corrupt your work ethic. It could be the factor that contributes to your work ethic, but for those who find themselves easily distracted by watching films and television, grab yourself a book. The only difference between the two is that you have to paint out the scenes for yourself. I find that to be very beneficial because it allows you to be in touch with your creativity. It even brings you to creative thoughts for your midterms. In any case, try to make reading a part of your new study habits. You might even notice a difference in your grades from doing it.


Zoe Sarkar

Concordia CA '21

Zoe Sarkar was born and raised as a first generation American in Los Angeles, California. She is a second year Film Studies student who hopes to pursue a career in directing, writing, editing, and perhaps acting as well. As much as film and writing are a huge part of her life, health and fitness are also very important to her as well. She has been a vegan for a year now, and she does her best to show others that being vegan is manageable and sustainable.
Kami Katopodis

Concordia CA '19

President of HC Concordia • Poet • Major in Human Relations • Minor in Diversity in the Contemporary World •