For those of you who are unaware, being a history major means that I read.  A lot.  I’m used to having 100-200 pages assigned weekly across my classes.  I’ve always heard from my professors that we should be reading strategically but to be honest, I’ve never had a problem with that.  I hate skimming, yet I can fly through the pages and stay on the couch for hours at a time.  And yet, all the summers I spent making and breaking my reading goals – reaching my limit at 100 books – didn’t prepare me for what I’m going to be facing this summer.

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This is the stack of books I’m going to be working my way through over the next few weeks.  Let’s look at it from a different angle.

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That’s not much better, is it?  Granted, there’s a few caveats to that stack.  To start with, I’m not reading all of them in their entirety.  Some I got because they contain certain chapters or essays that will be especially pertinent to my project.  As interesting as it may be, I can’t afford to spend time reading about British Colonialism in India; I need to keep focused on Uganda and East Africa.

Also, I fully expect that some of these will be duds.  Since I based my decisions on keywords, back covers, and a quick glance at the Table of Contents, I’ve probably skipped over or misinterpreted something.  Odds are, I’ll get a couple pages in, realize it’s not going to be useful, and move onto the next one.

Finally, this is not typical of a Summer Fellows project.  I leave for Uganda in about 4 weeks.  Other students have an additional 3 weeks during which to do their research.  My mentor and I decided that I should have a rough draft of my paper completed on June 29th, two days before I leave.  This means I need to have all my reading done before then.  Since I know that I’m a very methodical and deliberate writer, I’m budgeting 7-10 days to synthesize my research and have a draft completed.

That means I’m essentially squeezing 8 weeks worth of reading into 4.  Yikes!  After using my planner to pencil in my timeline, I can’t take longer than 2 days to read any of these books.  Some selections are much shorter, so I can expect to complete them in a single day.

ILL

In addition to those 18 – yes, eightenn – actual books, I’ve requested and collected about 21 scholarly articles from the internet to read.  I’m addicted to knowledge guys.  #DontJudgeMe.

Most have come from the Interlibrary Loan System.  If you’ve never used this resource, then you haven’t really lived.  Students at Ursinus can sign up to meet one-on-one with a librarian if they’re having trouble with research and I can guarantee you she’ll point you here.  If Ursinus doesn’t have physical or electronic access to a book or article, you can use ILL to get a copy from an institution that does.  Articles and Book Chapters get uploaded as a PDF document, while full books get mailed to campus.  Fun Fact: I once received a book from Western Washington University, a college where about 10% of my high school class went.  I was sorely tempted to slip a note inside to see if it could get to someone I knew.

With these, I also penciled in titles into my calendar.  Since I had already planned out my books, I tried to adjust around that.  On days when I knew that I would already have less, I stacked up two articles, while on others I didn’t schedule any so I could plow through a larger chunk of books.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress over the next few weeks and hopefully we’ll see that stack start to shrink.

Until next time!
Ella

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