Nothing quite compares to opening up that word document at the beginning of a semester and taking in all the names of the books you should be reading. The question is, does whether you adhere to these reading lists actually make a difference to your grades?
In my opinion, it definitely depends on the course and the type of work you do. With studying a creative writing and journalism joint degree, there are some modules that I definitely need books for, and some that aren’t as necessary.
Essential Law for Journalists
One of the first examples that pops into my mind is my first year module titled ‘Journalism and Society’. This module involved Law & Ethics and Journalism & Politics. Due to the foreign nature of this module and the amount of rules and regulations I needed to learn for essays and such, I found McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists written by David Banks and Mark Hanna particularly useful. It was drilled into me from the beginning of this module that this book would be absolutely essential if I wanted to score highly in my assignments – and boy, were the lecturers right.
This book caused me hell, quite frankly, and I wanted to rip my hair out at some points while readings but I’m grateful for my lecturers pushing me to pick it up.
On the other hand, however, most of the books I’ve acquired for other modules, especially in first year creative writing. In this part of my course, you’re not given much choice in the pieces I wrote so it was essential for me to pick up books on things such as poetry (my mortal enemy.) As I’ve gone through second and third year, I’ve been given more choice in my assignments and haven’t revisited poetry a whole lot (no surprises there). As a result, I’ve had it sitting on my book shelf, gathering dust, for two and a half years.
I can imagine that with other courses that are perhaps more scientific or maths based, that reading lists become even more essential that in my case. Many would think I’m lucky because I don’t have to do as much academic reading but more so casual reading.
In the end, reading lists either help people or they don’t. I’m not saying you shouldn’t follow your reading lists, you definitely should – even if you think they won’t help. I’m saying it’s better to look back and thank your lucky stars you did get that book (even if it doesn’t help you anymore) than to look back and wish you achieved a higher grade.