In an essay or paper where you are asked to read book a and book b, read relevant texts compare the views of author a or b or write a critical assessment of the views of author a and author b you are in fact being asked to do a literature review.
You have to read. There is no other option. You are reading for a degree after all. No pain no gain!
Here are some tips how to lessen the torture.
These principles are based on my PhD research findings: easily navigated web pages are those that have simple visual links. Other have shown that the research is an extension of visual search principles in text (see page bottom).
Both these examples below are of good writing.
The navigation metaphor was not a new concept. For example, it had a literary tradition in 2-D text as in Figure 3.12. Chapman (1987) used chaining, register, cohesion, ellipsis, conjunction, and co-location.
Figure 3.12: Trails of connectivity between key word themes. (Chapman, 1987, p.93)
Chapman measured the quality of reading texts by physically drawing ‘routes’ through text. Relational lines between key words in a story are ‘mapped’. Text with continuous lines of communication through a paragraph was easier to read – more easily physically navigated by the human eye.
From Howarth (2004) See chapter 3 in PhD section