His double at Deepdale saw his tally rise to four goals in three games that week, the opening goal winning the ‘goal of the month’ award in the Championship.
Having gone five games without a goal, Barkhuizen scored five in three – netting two and setting up another against the Royals.
Victory moved PNE up to eighth place, six points off the top six.
North End put an uncertain opening 20 minutes behind them – one in which the visitors were on top – to go on and boss the game.
Barkhuizen swept home a fine finish from the edge of the box in the 31st minute, Daryl Horgan getting the second five minutes before half-time.
The home side effectively completed the job early in the second half as Barkhuizen turned home Andy Boyle’s knock-down.
North End started in a 4-4-2, Barkhuizen partnering Jordan Hugill up front, with Aiden McGeady on the left wing and Horgan on the right.
Reading made the early running, Lewis Grabban sending a dipping shot from 25 yards just over the bar and on to the top of the net.
PNE’s first chance of note saw Barkhuizen lift a left-foot shot too high after Johnson and Hugill had linked well.
Maxwell produced a fine save in the 22nd minute to dive and push behind a shot from Garath McCleary who had cut inside from the left channel to work himself into a shooting position.
The resulting corner from John Swift was met in the box by Yann Kermorgant on the volley, Tom Clarke throwing himself in the way to block very well.
Paul Huntington treated Deepdale to a fine back-heel when North End were on the attack, something of a collector’s item from the centre-half. A stunning piece of footwork from McGeady saw him dump Royals defender Joey van den Berg on his backside before getting a shot away to the right of goal, keeper Ali Al-Habsi diving to parry it away.
North End went in front in the 31st minute, Horgan getting possession on the right wing and playing a pass inside to Barkhuizen, who swept a first-time shot from the edge of the box over Al-Habsi and into the net.
The visitors lost Jordan Mutch to injury straight after, the midfielder replaced by Danny Williams.
Five minutes before the interval, Preston doubled their advantage, the goal owing much to the pace of Barkhuizen. He sprinted from his own half as North End counter-attacked after breaking-up a Reading move.
As he got into the box, he squared the ball to Horgan whose first shot was blocked by Al-Habsi, the Irishman following up to stab home the rebound.
The third goal came in the 49th minute, a push on Horgan by Obita earning North End a free-kick inside the Reading half.
Horgan lifted the set-piece beyond the far post, Boyle knocked it back inside and Barkhuizen lifted the ball over the keeper from inside the six-yard box.
Sniffing his hat-trick, Barkhuizen fired a shot over the bar from 20 yards then tried an ambitious effort from a tight angle when team-mates were better placed inside the box – Hugill and Ben Pearson both letting him know.
A 66th-minute free-kick from McGeady sailed inches wide of the target, then Greg Cunningham was just off target with a low, first-time drive from the edge of the box after McGeady’s corner had been laid into his path by Johnson.
Barkhuizen’s race was run 14 minutes from time when he pulled up with cramp, Robinson coming on to replace him.
North End kept their foot on the gas throughout the second half and there were no scares from Reading who were very much second best.