Each week I connect one text to a topic, such as genre, narration, dialogue, scene, landscape, gender, and I ask them to write 500 words where they draw the text out in relation to that style topic. This focuses their reading and makes it more manageable.
Another option is to ask them to respond to the text this way:
3 things you liked
2 things you didn’t like
1 question you’d like to ask the author