Books to make me a better student
October 26, 2006 5:55 AM   Subscribe

This summer I want to do some self-improvement in terms of writing skills (essays for university), study techniques, etc. Basically I want to maximise my abilities and develop the best possible studying routine. What books did you find helpful when you were an undergrad? Or what books do you wish you had read early on?

I've been having a look round on the 'interweb' but there seems to be so much, I can't tell what will actually be worth my while. Obviously "Elements of Style" would be a good place to start. I see a lot of books with titles like: "How To Get Straight A's" -- are these books stuffed full of obviousness?

I'm interested in things like the Cornell method, and also particularly interested in anything that might be helpful in preparing me for med school -- although I won't be applying for another two years or so.

I'll keep having a look around amazon. But I just thought I'd ask in case you guys have come across some gems. Money is no object! My aim is to have a healthy looking amazon wishlist, and to purchase these all for my birthday (my gift to myself).

PS Would "Getting Things Done" be helpful in learning how to become a more productive, happier student?
posted by mjao to Education (8 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
As far as reading and analyzing literature, I really like The Well-Educated Mind. It's got lists of classical books to read, which would take way more time than one summer, but it also shows how you should be reading which I found helpful. How to Read a Book is often mentioned for this as well, although I haven't read it.

For memorization of short facts, in science, history, whatever, I do well with flashcards. I like using a basic Leitner system with multiple buckets.
posted by Durin's Bane at 6:27 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


For reference, Partridge and Whitcut's "Usage and Abusage" is something I pick up regularly when uncertain about correctness. And a good dictionary. You need a good dictionary.

I'd recommend a few practical things - learn your word processor well (how to create a structured document, how to do indexes and tables of contents). But more importantly, learn how to use a bibliographical database system. You'll be reading lots of books and papers, and referencing them again and again, and there's nothing worse than losing marks for stuff that can be mechanised (like referencing). I use Latex for the words and Bibtex for the refs, which might be overkill for you (unless you're going into sciences). But it really doesn't matter what you use as long as you're a power user.
posted by handee at 8:12 AM on October 26, 2006


Wayne Booth's The Craft of Research helped me write my masters thesis. It's about research techniques rather than writing style.
posted by booth at 8:30 AM on October 26, 2006


William Zinsser's "On Writing Well" is the best book on non-fiction writing, i've ever read. It's a nice companion to Elements of S.

The other thing I'd recommend is to know how to maximize your brain's performance. :-) I.e. frequent breaks between repetitions help long-term retention. Lots of sleep, exercise, that kinda stuff.
posted by storybored at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2006


The Everyday Writer
You just need to write a lot. The best advice I've ever gotten from a writing teacher is that one typed, double-spaced page takes 8 hours. It's very acurate.
posted by princelyfox at 11:23 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


William Zinsser's "On Writing Well" is the best book on non-fiction writing, i've ever read. It's a nice companion to Elements of S.

Seconded. This is the best book on writing lively, clear nonfiction I've ever read.
posted by juliarothbort at 12:06 PM on October 26, 2006


PS Would "Getting Things Done" be helpful in learning how to become a more productive, happier student?

I'd reccomend it - It's done wonders for me. (Mid-sophmore year.)
posted by Orb2069 at 4:32 PM on October 26, 2006


ALL great answers, thank you!
posted by mjao at 5:51 PM on October 26, 2006


« Older Trademarks: Can I google you on Yahoo?   |   Organizing software in an enterprise Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.