By Katie Catulle ’24
Classes are over, brains are filled. And the only thing standing in the way of a month of relaxation is the final stretch of projects, essays, and prepping for finals.
Reading period may feel overwhelming: hours upon unstructured hours to do tasks upon stressful tasks. But it can also be a lot of fun. I find this period to be rejuvenating, balancing studying with socializing.
Cafés provide the best balance between a social and studious space. I particularly love Jenny’s Café, located in the Harvard Art Museums. The kindest baristas are there, and the location is beautiful and open.
Sophia Pasalis ’25 similarly likes working in cafés, especially Roust or Cicada. “Anywhere I have to pay seven dollars for coffee,” she jokes. She also likes Faro “if I’m feeling analog,” a café that is adamantly anti-screen.
Mia Taylor ’24 finds inspiration in cafés as well. “Life Alive is a pretty cozy spot I like to go to,” she says. “I run into my friend Katie there all the time. Either she is the single easiest person to run into on campus or we both agree on this.” Taylor and I both love Life Alive for a more relaxed place to study.
If I need to really focus, I go to Widener Library. I have a designated study carrel where I can keep my books because I am writing a senior thesis. I decorated it with some of my favorite quotes from books I am using for my thesis, along with other motivational images for inspiration.
Widener is a favorite study spot among undergraduates. The beautiful design and the designated silence create a great study atmosphere. Caroline Dent ’24 loves the Loker Reading Room. “During finals, it’s packed,” she says. “Everyone else’s desperation fuels me.”
Perhaps a less explored area of Widener is the Pusey stacks, located in the library’s basement, a favorite spot of Serena Jampel ’25. The stacks add an element of necessity. “If I don’t finish my work, I’ll never be seen again,” she says. On the other hand, Jampel finds inspiration in the Loeb Music Library, a much brighter space. “It makes me feel at peace.”
Benji Pearson ’25 also finds inspiration from the spaces around him. Pearson says he prefers Smith Campus Center: “I always think I’m about to fall over the edge, which keeps me on my toes.” He mentions that it is also a great place to people watch, “which means you are also being watched, so you really have to do your work.”
Nick Chewhan ’25 prefers a more interpersonal approach. He finds he is most productive on the floor of his friend’s room. “It’s playful,” he says. “My friend has a cat.”
Though reading period may be a stressful time, Harvard hosts a variety of beautiful spaces to get through the studying season.
Katie Catulle ’24 is an English concentrator in Adams House.