The best places for academic reading

Intensive academic reading is what every PhD student would experience during their study. Reasons to read varies, ranging from identifying a research gap, to justifying our study, to writing for publications or to preparing for an academic talk. Or sometimes, simply to answering a question that our colleagues raise to us. This experience is usually quite time-consuming and brain wracking, which also requires a lot of patience and focus as well. Therefore, it is necessary that we have such a place to go for this challenging task. So what are your best places for academic readings? In this blog, Ivy shared with us some interesting answers she got from other PhD students as well as her insights into these answers and general suggestions concerning this topic.

By Ivy Zhuo.

Every person may have a very different learning style and thus may differ much in their choices of a place to go for academic readings. In order to give constructive suggestions on ‘best places for academic reading’ could be for , I decided to reach out to some of my PhD friends to have a deeper understanding of this topic, and here are the answers I got.

A black and white image of some tables and chairs. There is sunlight coming through the windows.
The Faculty of Arts Building. Image: Ivy Zhuo.

A: When I need to concentrate on my reading, I love taking a walk around the park opposite my house or any other quiet green area I find. Sometimes I sit on a bench, or on good days (in terms of weather) I take a blanket with me and sit on the grass. This really helps me to ease my mind and focus

B: For academic reading, I try to find places that are quiet and not full of people. The first floor of the library before 10am is a good place to go as it’s usually really quiet. Later in the day, I like to sit in the Oculus building to read something I’ve printed out so I’m not looking at a screen and can make notes.

C: I prefer the comfort of my own room. When I need to concentrate, I prefer to have all resources available near me, thus my room, which I always organized in a setting where all my readings (I prefer physical books/notes) are around me. 

D: I really like to have a special spot somewhere in the campus, whether in our department or in the library,but I couldn’t be able to find a place without disturbances. So I’d rather stay home when I need to focus on reading or do any other important thing. Wolfson is a good spot only at times that is not crowded.

E: Regarding the best place for me when I want to focus on reading or working on my PhD work, I actually prefer to work from home. The reason is because when I want to concentrate on something such as academic reading, I prefer a quiet place away from any noise. I hope this answers your question.

F: Rex for sure, cause I get to see other people focused.

G:For me, if I read something very important, probably just stay at home or study at my phd office, because it’s quiet.. But if I read something for a seminar or for my own academic interest, I would go to pub. I like the atmosphere there. Feeling relaxed and lively.

A road with a small bridge across it joining two buildings. The sun is rising in the background of the image.
Image: University of Warwick.

To summarize, the places my PhD friends prefer to go while doing academic readings include home, public places (like a park or a pub) and campus. The determinants of such choices could be if the place is quiet enough without disturbances; if the place is comfy enough to accommodate all the needed resources at hand; if the place could help to put our mind at ease and stay focused; or if the place has other focused peers who motivate us to keep on studying as well.

Therefore, there are no one-size-for-all places to suggest for all the PhD students. However, for the majority, a place without disturbances to our own study could be an ideal place to go. Based on this precondition, we then decide the places we could go according to our individual preferences.

If you are a person who would easily lose focus or lack of self-control and desire a peer to motivate you to carry on with your work, probably the library, especially Wolfson Research Exchange on the 3rd floor, would be a great place to go. There are always some diligent PhD students or even academics working all the time.

If you are a person who prefers to have all your materials around and are intolerant of any noise during your reading, your room at home would be the best option. You could even scatter all the readings across your table, your bed, your floor, anywhere you want in your room as long as you feel comfortable and easy to access the materials you need.

A path with flowers either side. There are trees and buildings in the background, with a blue sky.
Image: University of Warwick.

If, you are a bit of adventurous and would prefer a little of nature in your life, even for intensive academic readings, maybe a quiet place on a bench in a park, or, in the forest (be aware of weather!!!), or by the lake near the medical center if you still prefer the nature on campus. Last summer, I tried to do my readings on a bench by the lake on campus and found it not only productive but also enjoyable, since I was reading with the ducks in the river, the squirrels that would sometimes running pass me as the witnesses for my work!

In a nutshell, there are no so-called best places for academic readings, but there is always a best place for you!

If you’d like to find out more, why not take a look at: Welcome to Warwick: Top Tips for Starting your PhD or PGR Possibilities: The Doctoral College and life beyond your department.

What are your favourite places to go when doing academic readings? Could you identify yourself in any of the answers in the blog? Let us know by tweeting us @researchex, messaging us on Instagram @warwicklibrary, or email us at

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