Order is Important

Before you can read the book, you must buy it! The campus will invariably have its own bookstore on-site. This is, of course, the difinitive place to find out what books you need. It might not, however, be the best place to buy those books.

Go to the campus bookstore (some even have a web-site for easy access). Find your class (and section: sometimes different sections have different reading lists!). Now note the title, author, and edition of the REQUIRED books. (There'll most likely be recommended books as well. Note their titles, but wait until class to ask your teacher if they will truly be useful.) Also mark down the price the bookstore is asking.

Now go to local bookstores, online bookstores, even libraries and see where else you can aquire your text. If you truly can't find a cheaper price, I'm amazed. If you can, check that it will arrive on time (if it is being shipped, of course).

Another good question to ask yourself is: new or used? New books cost more, but have no markings, tears, or scuffing. Old books are cheaper but do have markings (could be correct, could be why the previous owner flunked), tears (hopefully all the pages are there), and/or scuffing (well...don't judge a book by its cover *grin* sorry, couldn't resist).

If you plan on using this book beyond this course (for the next one in the sequence or simply because it is your major), you might want the new book. (Mostly my strong opinion, but I'm not alone here, either.)

When to Start?

Many students wait until the day of the class (or a few days after class starts) to get their book. *shakes head* No. Just plain wrong. (I know sometimes money is an issue -- scholarships, loans, etc. -- but it is NOT what you should plan to do.)

You should get your books as soon as possible. I would try to buy them before I left school for inter-session break. If I couldn't, I would get it during break or first thing when I got back to school. The earlier you have it, the sooner you can start reading it!


I know, read is a four-letter word. But you really should read your textbooks. Studies (and my personal experience as both a teacher and a student) show that students who read the text before it is covered in the lecture are more likely to understand what is going on. (Yes, the eggheads, wonderkinds, and just plain brilliant were thrown out. The studies compared normal people who did or did not read before lecture.)

Personally, when I'm a student, I try to read at least the first few chapters of the book before I get to the first lecture. From that point, I just try to keep ahead of the teacher.

Many students begin to look panicked and try to run when I say that. Don't worry! I don't read in depth. I don't make sure I know it before class. I don't memorize charts and diagrams and all that crap... I simply read through the chapters, look over the figures and their captions, skim the summaries and exercises. The idea is not for you to learn it from the book alone. (If books were that good and people that easy to teach, I'd be out of a job! *smile*)

The idea is that you put the words and maybe a couple of facts or ideas into your head. Then your brain will try to fit it together -- even when you aren't thinking/concentrating on it. When you are 'vegging out' or even asleep, your brain will be mulling over what you read. By the time you reach class and hear the discussion about those topics, it should be at least more familiar. Often, though, you'll find that it falls together much more easily!


So, remember: