A couple of reader-submitted questions and observations about previous posts in the Grad School Survival Guide.

Can you really read a book in 2 hours?

I can! And so can you!

However, what I may have missed in my last two posts is that you won’t always want to.

The book may be interesting to you, or useful for your research.You may need to write a review of it, or lead the seminar discussion this week.

My point is that, up til now, how long it takes to read something is a function of font size, length, and your interest level. I want to encourage you to see it as something you have some control over.

If you’re pressed for time or need to prioritize your life/work balance this week, you can still extract a good amount of material and arrive in seminar prepared to participate in a relatively short time.

But, certainly, by all means: if you want to spend more time with a book, go for it!

I regret nothing.

What about Footnotes?

Ahhh, the tricky business of footnotes.

I love footnotes. If the author is going to be shady (and I love me some shade), it’s probably going to be in the footnotes.

Footnotes can offer a wealth of information that’s esoteric and tangential. When I consulted colleagues about this question most of them told me that, if it’s worth mentioning, it should be in the text and not in the notes. Absolutely true.

If you’re reading a monograph for a seminar that isn’t in one of your core areas, you can probably skip over them safely, especially if you’re pressed for time. The one caveat I would offer is to just give a quick skim if this is where the author describes his/her sources (esp. if they’re relying entirely on material that was translated for them and not the original. In some fields this isn’t a big deal, in others it’s quite controversial)

If it’s in your field, and/or you’re doing comps reading or dissertation research, you’ll want to read them. There’s a wealth of information about sources, intellectual genealogies, etc.

And occasional shade.

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