College Reading Tips: 5 Ways to Add Fall Whimsy to Your Studies

Happy back-to-school season! Cheers to impending autumnal festivities, cups upon cups of coffee (or tea, if that’s your preference), and late nights spent over countless homework assignments. 

Although the fall season can be whimsical, it can also introduce back-to-school anxiety. So, whether this upcoming season evokes excitement or restlessness, we’re here to help keep you warm in the best way we know how—by channeling some autumnal whimsy back into your reading! Check out the following study tips: 

Set the Scene

Firstly, how do we even get in the mood to read? Sometimes it’s hard to just sit down and find the motivation to read the first chapter. Well, depending on your personal aesthetics or seasonality, light a candle, put on a cozy outfit, or make a yummy beverage. It’s especially important to have some nice snacks by your side in order to keep your brain charged! 

There are even some amazing playlists that can help capture a very specific mood. For example, if you are reading Frankenstein, check out this instrumental playlist: “a playlist to feel like the main character in a victorian novel.” Sure, it’s ultra specific, but it captures the dark academia mood perfectly. You can find stunning playlists curated for all sorts of things, including novels such as Pride & Prejudice (“playlist to give you the feeling of finding your mr darcy…”) or Little Women (“…christmas with the little women by the fireplace”). 


Similarly to setting the scene, set up your reading station! If you enjoy being more hands on with your work, consider using sticky notes, highlighters, and pens. Not only do these supplies allow you to take notes within the margins, but they can help track scenes and quotes you may need for later. To keep things organized, you can even make a color index at the front of the book to keep track of repeating themes or literary elements. 

Imagine decorating your book with a dark academia inspired color scheme and filling its pages with tabs and sticky notes in all the colors of fall: orange, red, yellow, brown, navy, and dark green. It’s as cute as it is effective!

Write Down Important Quotes

As you read, use a separate notebook or device to track important quotes, scenes, and literary devices. Writing down the quotations (and the page you found them on!) allows you to be more prepared for class discussions or future essays about the text. Plus, pausing to take notes actually helps you read more efficiently! The act of writing activates your memory—and gives you a short break from a text you may find confusing (or boring).  

How better to decorate for fall than with quotes you love? Pair a written quote on paper, say from Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, with fairy lights, fall mood board inspo, and some  crunchy fall leaves, and boom! You’ve created a Pinterest-worthy reading space.

Read Out Loud or Use An Audio Book

A fun way to get more involved with a text is to read it out loud. For plays and poems, reading out loud can help you detect subtle characteristics, such as rhythm and rhyming patterns. If you’re working on a  play, like Romeo & Juliet, acting out the scenes with classmates or yourself can add a bit of entertainment and spice up a boring read.

There are also many free audio books available on Youtube or at your local library. Imagine being all bundled up with a scarf and coat, walking over the crunchy fall leaves, and sipping from a hot latte while listening to the haunting tale of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Or, even better, imagine yourself cooking a comforting, mouth watering soup for dinner while listening to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Build A Foundation

To spend more time on a text’s finer details, use eNotes to gather the general information about a text or chapter. We’ll walk you through a text’s foundational elements, such as its time period, context, characters, and general themes. From that foundation, you can then focus on the quotes or elements that enhance or build upon those themes. 

Let’s look at Keats’ poem, “To Autumn,” as an example. Check out the bulleted summary at the top of the page to read a broad synopsis of the poem. Then, go more into depth. After reading each stanza, pause to read our summary for that stanza. Flip between the text and our summary, giving yourself time to reflect on Keats’ developing feelings about autumn. 

To build an even stronger foundation, check out our other sections to flesh out your own literary analysis. Pick one of our themes, snag your fall-colored stationary, and start highlighting the parts of the poem that reflect that theme. As you work, sip on a hot apple cider, bask in the autumnal whimsy that Keats praises, and lean on our guides if you’re confused. As autumn—and school—draw ever nearer, we wish you the best of luck. Remember: we’re always here to help!

If you have any more reading tips you would love to share with some fellow students, please feel free to leave a comment on this blog!