You may be nervous about approaching difficult texts. We are reading shorter amounts so that we may practice learning how to read dense theoretical texts. That means that you need to read the pieces more than once. Read them once for anything you can get out of them while taking notes and underlining things that you think might mean something even if you don’t know what it means. See if you get any kind of feelings about the reading first. Find the one word or line that sticks out to you. Then after we discuss the reading in class, go and look at it again, read it again, skim through it again, underline more and make more notes. All the things we will read in class were written by people with personalities and their own style. I find it helpful to find their style–where they think they are being funny even if you don’t think they are, where they are being sassy, where they are trying to make their own point. If you think of this as the ideas of people written in a dialogue with a community of scholars it might be easier to find a point that is interesting to you, rather than just thinking this is a text that fell from the sociology gods and has some pure knowledge in it that you are supposed to gain. This post, written by an instructor at hunter also has some useful tips.