There are many strategies for surviving Reading Week. Some people camp out at Book Trader, others stress eat pretzels and chocolate and chocolate-covered pretzels until their teeth hurt. For me, the best strategy is simple: pick one song to play on repeat until your ears and the people studying near you are screaming at you to stop, please just stop, no more Michelle Branch.

Picking music is always such a distraction. By choosing just one song for the entire week, you save yourself at least 15 seconds per song, times maybe 400 songs you’ll play during this week of torture and endless headphones, and that’s at least an hour you have saved (really rough math, sorry if it’s wrong).

And so, without further ado, I present to you, my darlings, the Top 10 Songs to Repeat Forever:

Keep the Customer Satisfied – Simon & Garfunkel

Inspired by an influential Bees N Cheer this weekend, I have been listening to Simon & Garfunkel hits nonstop since Saturday. This one’s good because it contains all the joyful frustration of Reading Week. Right now we are one metaphorical step ahead of the shoe shine, two metaphorical steps ahead of the county line, etc. Plus there’s something great about yelling along with them as you trudge oh so slow through your paper on Rasputin. Yes, Simon! Yes, Garfunkel! Slandered! Liiiiiiibeled!

The Only Living Boy in New York – Simon & Garfunkel

Again, Simon & Garfunkel. Sigh There’s just something about those harmonies that hooks me, keeps me one step ahead of the shoeshine, two steps…sorry. Anyway, “The Only Living Boy in New York” is probably the perfect song for when it’s 6 a.m. and you are actually the only living boy/girl in New Haven. I tweeted that once freshman year, and I stand by it. There’s a level of acceptance of man’s futility in the song that says, you know what, I can’t write any more, and you know what, I’m OK with that. Here I am, the only living boy in New Haven.

Graceland – Paul Simon

I know, I know, more Paul Simon, but this list originally had five Simon & Garfunkel songs, so you’ll take what you get and you’ll like it. When you’re feeling a little lonely, like you are the only living boy in New Haven but it’s no longer a beautiful metaphor and actually you are just lonely, “Graceland” will pick you back up and make you feel like you can take on the world. Who knew “Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee” could pack so much lyrical punch.

Leaving on a Jet Plane – Peter Paul & Mary

Whenever I wrap up that last final, I get this weird reflective feeling that makes me a lil sad to be done with the awful-but-enlightening academic rush of finals. Deep down I like school and I like Yale, no matter how much I ugh and moan about finals and papers. Winter Break lasts for such a long time. I know when I’ll be back again, but for now saying goodbye is hard. Peter Paul & Mary make it a little easier.

Waking Up In Vegas – Katy Perry

A few days ago an a cappella group performing outside the Apple Store reminded me that “Waking Up In Vegas” might be the best song ever. Sure finals are rough, but our lives are not actually that difficult. Sure, 20 pagers are the worst, but it helps to remember that that mammoth paper was assigned by a professor at one of the world’s best universities. Songs like “Waking Up In Vegas” teach me not to be a baby and remember that my life will be fine. First I just need to get up and shake the glitter off my clothes now.

Soak Up the Sun – Sheryl Crow

But if “Waking Up In Vegas” makes you way too pensive, remember that life goes on after finals. As my dean says in his legitimately uplifting twice-yearly email, finals are not a judgment of your character. So live a little! Make friends with a Communist. Soak up some sun. And take Sheryl’s sage advice — you are the king of you. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent, not even the big bad wolf, not even finals.

Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second – Starf*cker

Probably the most pleasant song on my list, “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” feels like a tranquilizer. There must be some sort of lyrics but all I hear is something like “It’s all OK, you’re gonna be fine, take a nap, relax, relaaaaaax.” Which, during a difficult time like Reading Week, is just what I need. It’s the kind of song you can put on infinite loop because you never really want it to stop, or notice when it does.

Breathe – Michelle Branch

Self-explanatory. Michelle Branch kills it with a nuanced, honest portrayal of how one feels when one has worked oneself to one’s bitter end, when there is nothing left to say. Michelle Branch for Spring Fling 2012. No more jokes, no more tears. This time for real.

The Weight – The Band

Now that you’re closing in on the end of this blog post, you are probably feeling about half-past dead. Take a load off, Yalie. Even if you are stuck cramming econ or math or Thucydides into your head until Dec. 17, it can only be helpful to listen to a song reminiscent of good times and a commercial you can’t quite pinpoint but you know you’ve seen a few times.

We Found Love – Rihanna

Hands-down the hottest song ever played at Zeta. Every time I hear this song, I want to hear it more. I never want to stop hearing it. I want to hear it as I walk with purpose through the streets of SoHo, dressed all in black. I want to hear it as I’m shoving for a seat on the subway, and I want to hear it as I’m sitting on the toilet. I want Rihanna to puke rainbows on my bedroom floor (if that weirded you out, you need to watch the video). She makes everything way better, even labor relations.

This is the first in a series of five Top 10 lists honoring Reading Week.