Faculty members do not assign reading as busy work. They feel the material is valuable. So, approach it with as much energy and creativity as you can muster. If it is not a class that particularly excites you, try to relate it to something that does. A great example might be physics and baseball. You'd be surprised at how much science can apply to things like the trajectory of a ball or the impact needed on the bat to make a ball go a certain distance,etc. If you are in doubt, ask the professor to help you relate the topic to something you do enjoy and he or she might be able to help you connect the dots. You might also consider your future career and whether you could make use of this knowledge in small talk or in background knowledge for that type of job.
Book titles are italicized. If you are using a typewriter and can't write in italics, then it is customary to underline the title. Same applies to plays. Titles of poems, short stories, essays, and other short pieces are set off in double quotes. George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" would be in quotes, since it is only an essay. Commas and periods go inside the closing quotation mark, as for example with Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant." The English do it differently and this can create some confusion, but observe the usage in American publications.
This little question will help you effectively format titles in most situations. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention the few unusual situations. For example, works of art (., the name of a painting) should always be italicized. The specific names of ships, planes, and space crafts should be italicized, but the abbreviations before the names, designations of classes, and the makes are not italicized (., The Queen Mary, USS Indianapolis, Boeing 747, and The Space Shuttle Challenger). The names of trains are not italicized. Also, the general names of standard religious texts use no special formatting beyond capitalization (., the Bible, the Talmud, and the Koran).