Using that summer job to improve your grades

by Kit Munro

If you are studying at a University and you have to work over the summer holidays there is a way –if you are lucky enough to have the right job– to turn those Summer months spent doing a boring job into A+ after A+.

A comment on this blog the other day provided me with the idea:

I spent most of my uni break working in a vineyard…never have I tired of an iPod playlist so quickly. Working outside was such a lovely change though and it really does help to realise how lucky you are to work in such a beautiful place:)


Let us assume that Anon is studying English. Lets also assume that she is studying at the University of Otago, one of only three Universities on the Island I live on. Anon, because of her Scottish heritage and a weakness for CSI, Sherlock, and Hercule Poirot has decided to study, ENGL260 Special Topic: Tartan Noir: Scottish Crime Fiction. Lets finally assume that Anon has decided to work in a vineyard again.

Anon could listen to her ipod playlist again, but I think there is a better idea.

Here is the reading list for Scottish Crime Fiction

Walter Scott, ‘The Two Drovers’
Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped
Arthur Conan Doyle, selected Sherlock Holmes stories
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps
Muriel Spark, The Driver’s Seat
Ian Rankin, Black & Blue
Christopher Brookmyre, One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night
Iain Banks, Complicity
Val McDermid, The Wire in the Blood

Why doesn’t Anon spend her summer in the vineyard reading/listening to these books? Rather than listening to Taylor Swift, Kitty Daisy and Lewis, The Decemberists, or The Black Keys all day she could read these books.

Below is the list with the audiobooks I was able to find on and elsewhere and how many hours these books are.

Walter Scott,The Two Drovers’ (couldn’t find)
Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is available here. 3 hours
Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped is available here. 7.5 hours
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles is available here. 6 hours. The complete Sherlock Holmes is also available here. 71 hours
John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps is available here. 4 hours
Muriel Spark, The Driver’s Seat is available here. 2.5 hours
Ian Rankin, Black & Blue is available here. 13 hours (estimate)
Christopher Brookmyre, One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night (couldn’t find)
Iain Banks, Complicity (couldn’t find)
Val McDermid, The Wire in the Blood is available here. 15 hours

[NB as usual if anyone knows anywhere else these books are available as audiobooks please let me know in the comments below]

If Anon was to spend her time listening to these books and keeping in mind that for Engl 260:

Topics of discussion will include: the character of the detective hero; the role of crime fiction in the construction of national identity; and writing the city in Scottish crime fiction.

It is likely that she will be the most prepared person in the class, after the lecturer. Especially if she listened to these books more than once. Say it takes roughly 120 hours to listen to the 8 texts that are available, if she also intends to read every Sherlock Holmes story, Then, if Anon does 40 hour weeks in the vineyard for three months she could listen to the lot four times.

Going into this course with an intimate knowledge of all these texts on the reading list may not guarantee an A+ but it would, I think, make an A+ a lot more likely.

Do uni students often do this? Get a job over the break that would be compatible with audiobook listening and prepare for their next semesters study by doing all the reading before the course starts? Because if the students are passionate about their studies this is exactly what they should do.

In short, I think this sort of thing

Plus this

Containing these

May equal this