Category Archives: Databases

Choosing to read (for pleasure)

How will you use the extended break between the fall 2022 and the spring 2023 semesters? This time can be used productively, preparing for coursework next semester, or learning a new language (try the Mango Languages database. NOVA librarians recommend that you choose to read for pleasure.

magazine icon

Why read for pleasure

Research  frequently explores the positive effects of reading for pleasure for children and adolescents; fewer studies address the emotional, social, and psychological benefits derived by adults who regularly choose to read for pleasure. Adults attribute increased vocabulary and general knowledge, better text comprehension, improved grammar and writing abilities, and greater self-confidence to their regular reading habits. Beyond this, research  shows that reading reduces stress and relaxes. It’s why many doctors encourage adults to turn off their screens and curl up with a book to feel calm, reduce depressive thoughts, and get a well-earned rest at the end of the day. Also, reading can increase your empathy for others around you.

What to read

Choosing what to read can be daunting, but there are places to turn that can assist you. During the fall of each year, various organizations announce the authors winning awards for their work, including:

  • The Nobel Prize for Literature is arguably the most prestigious of annual awards.  
  • The Booker Prize for the best novel published in English and published in the UK or Ireland is better known for the “shortlist” of books announced to be in contention for the annual award.
  • The National Book Foundation awards is the premier American prize recognizing literary excellence.

Various institutions use the possibility of gifting books at Christmastime to announce lists of the “best” books of the year. Each organization has its own way of selecting what’s “best” or otherwise limiting their choices by subject. For example:

  • Libraries rely on Publishers Weekly for announcements of publications they should include on their shelves. The publication compiles a list each year, so check out their list of the top 10 in each category (fiction, mystery/thriller, poetry, romance, SciFi/fantasy/horror, comics, nonfiction, religion, etc.).
  • Throughout the year, the New York Times publishes lists of the best-selling books of the week in their weekly Book Review section.  On November 29, the Times will announce their annual 10 Best Books in two categories (fiction and nonfiction) plus 100 Notable Books of 2022.
  • The Washington Post’s selection of the “top ten.”
  • Lifelong learning site Headway Media has a blog for books categorized in unusual ways: Best books for men to read, CEOs, Strategy books, self-improvement, building confidence. Surely one of the many lists will interest NOVA students.
  • The New Yorker
  • NPR (formerly known as National Public Radio) compiles lists of books by subject, including comics/graphic novels, art, history, music, sports, historical fiction, love stories, mysteries/thrillers, nonfiction, SciFi/fantasy, science, short stories/essays/poetry, young adult, and more. If you’re still undecided about what to read, the NPR book review team polls the organization’s staff for their recommendations. Surely, one title will be perfect for you!

The NOVA librarians use these lists to verify their selection of books acquired throughout the year, so you’ll find many of these titles on our shelves already. If you’re still uncertain, check with a Reference Librarian on your campus for advice!

Editor’s Note: For additional ideas about “best books” or “great reads,” check out last December’s blog, How to find a book to read

What books are you reading during inter-session?


Assuring diversity of expertise

Instructors frequently ask students to consult scholarly publications to ensure they tap into the best minds available in each subject domain. Sometimes, this limits diversity of opinion. If your native language is not English or you reside in the Global South, the hurdles of getting published in top academic journals are difficult to overcome. There are, however, several websites and databases that actively see to include diverse perspectives and alternative viewpoints. For example:

Resources in our library

As Lisa Peet noted in her 2021 March 18 Library Journal article, Ithaka Library Director Survey on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Antiracism Reveals Disconnects, libraries are reassessing “their perspectives and strategies around diversity, equity, inclusion (EDI), and racism.” The NOVA libraries are no exception. Two databases in our collection stand out:

  • ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch includes newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press.
  • EBSCO’s LGBTQ+ Source database includes journals, newspapers, and books about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and allied subject matter.

NOVA’s Antiracism LibGuide helps students explore the history and conditions that led to the unrest of 2020 through books/e-books, articles, videos, and podcasts. The section of the LibGuide devoted to Tools for Taking Action provides a roadmap for those in the NOVA Community wishing to get involved.

Recommendations for faculty

To expand the range of non-white perspectives assigned to students, instructors might review the syllabi of courses taught at Tribal Colleges and Universities and Historically Black Colleges to see which texts assigned for courses similar to the ones they are teaching.

How to find a book to read

Students are assigned textbooks and other reading for their courses, but sometimes you just want a good book to read. It could be a recently published novel, or you might be working your way through a “Great Books” list. Here are some ways you can find a book in almost any genre you desire.

magazine icon

End-of-year wrap-ups

Many newspapers and magazines use the end of the year as an excuse – as if they needed one – to publish their “must read” lists or the Best Books of <insert year here>. While NPR releases news about books, book reviews, and interviews with authors throughout the year but handpicks great reads each year.

The New York Times also publishes book reviews throughout the year. Each November, the paper releases its list of 100 Notable Books, followed by a live event identifying the 10 Best Books of <YEAR> selected from that list.

Publications issuing annual “best book” lists are terrific sources of inciteful book reviews throughout the year. Some of my favorites include:

Watching an interview with an author is another way to determine whether a book might interest you. Fresh Fiction can help you identify books and authors featured in national media. In addition to occasional appearances by an author on a newscast, authors are interviewed regularly on BookTV .

If you’re unsure whether you’d like a book and want to read a selection before you purchase the title (or visit the library to borrow it), you might consult BookSpot First Chapters. Don’t forget to use the left-hand navigation bar to identify other resources for book reviews and awards by genre.

Literary prize winners (and runner ups)

You might also turn to entities that award prizes to authors for their works each year. Don’t limit your search to the “winners” of this year or prior years’ as the finalists can sometimes be even better. Here are a few of the entities awarding authors for their works:

  • The Pulitzer Prize for Books includes fictional works, history, biography, poetry, and general non-fiction.
  • The Man Booker Prize is awarded to the best novel written in English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland.
  • The National Book Foundation celebrates American literature with its National Book Awards.
  • Each year, the National Book Critics Circle presents awards for the finest books published in English (in the USA) in six categories: Fiction, nonfiction, biography, autobiography, poetry, and criticism. encourages browsing for titles by genre, such as biography, classics, fiction, graphic novels, historical fiction, horror, memoir, nonfiction, romance, science fiction, thriller, and travel. There is also a list of Goodreads Choice Awards for the year’s best books in each genre. Then there’s Kobo with its best books, eBooks and audiobooks that define the year.

Book club choices

Book club online discussion groups are a great resource for finding new titles to read and assessing how others have enjoyed them. Some even include guides for conducting group discussions about the book that can be helpful for thoughtful readers. From FreeBookNotes, you’ll be able to link to study guides from SparkNotes, CliffNotes, BookRags, and more to help you understand the book you’ve selected to read.

Book review sites consulted by booksellers and librarians

Detailed abstracts, book summaries, or even a sample chapter may be available on:

  •, featuring detailed book reviews from many genres, including science-fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and more.
  • includes reviews, previews, “behind the book” backstories, author interviews, and research guides. Click the Read-Alikes tab in the top navigation bar. If you find a book you like, the editors will suggest books you are probably going to like equally as well.
  • contains book reviews and author interviews.
  • The Complete Review ( highlights “books in the news,” books “most worthy of your attention,” and foreign books not yet translated into English.
  • Curled Up with a Good Book ( includes reviews of fiction and non-fiction books, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, graphic novels, and audiobooks.
  • lets you download 10% of the text before purchase.
  • Shelf Awareness ( is a twice-weekly e-newsletter containing detailed abstracts and reviews of 25 recommended titles scheduled for release that week.
  • Ron Hogan’s blog ( often features new authors.
  • Track New Book ( helps you find new books related to the websites you visit, sending you an email as new books are published by authors you track (
  • Lovereading UK ( has online tools to help you choose your next read. The free membership site includes 10-15 page opening extracts and samples of audiobooks. Personalized newsletters cover the latest book recommendations in fiction and non-fiction.
  • Gnooks ( uses a Gnod engine to learn what an individual might like to read. Enter three authors you like and Gnooks will suggest what you should read next.
  • Complete the statement, “I’ve just finished reading __________ by _______” and The Book Seer ( will supply the answer.
  • WhichBook ( offers choices based on mood/emotion, plot shape, type of main character (by age, race, gender), or country in which the book is set.
  • FictionDB ( has extensive author bibliographies for the authors you like and want to read. You can even set up a “wish list” for future reading

Finding book reviews using online databases available at NOVA Libraries

NOVA students can access book reviews published in major newspapers and magazines. Use the “Find Journal” link on the library homepage and type the title of the work you seek. For example, the New York Times Book Review. Another tab will open featuring the databases where this title is available, including ProQuest Global Newsstream, for example.

EBSCO Academic Search Complete databases includes journals and magazines with book reviews. To find them, use the Advanced Search page; under Document Type, choose Book Reviews.

Two databases in the NOVA Libraries that specialize in literature are the GALE Literary Index and JSTOR. To reach these titles, begin on the library homepage and click All Databases (A-Z):

  • Click “G” and select GALE Databases; then click the link to GALE Literary Index and begin your search.
  • Click “J” and select JSTOR. To find book reviews, use the Advanced Search page. Type the title of a book or keyword and Narrow Your Search, Item = Review.

Have you got a favorite way of finding books to read? Use the Comments section to let us know.

Researching health and wellness among minority communities

Health disparities among communities in the United States exist. Social vulnerabilities put minorities at disproportionate risk of all sorts of chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and obesity.

How can we understand what is going on in our communities and efforts to mitigate the effects of poor air/water quality, an absence of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, and even the lower education levels that can exacerbate health disparities? Using our information literacy skills, let’s identify some quality resources so we can understand the current situation and how it can be improved.

Resources from the federal government

The U.S. government has a wealth of data and information that can be mined to uncover ways in which people’s health can be improved. If you’re curious about the government’s objectives for health data collection in the current decade, you’ll find that at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Minority Health subsite features an e-newsletter, Health Equity Matters, a blog (Conversations in Equity), and various health disparities/strategies reports. State and local programs using “culturally tailored interventions to address preventable risk behaviors” are funded by Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) funds.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) publishes reports and statistical briefs on racial/ethnic minorities, as well as children/adolescents, the elderly, low-income, rural/inner-city residents, and women. A good starting point for your research might be the Minority Health fact sheets.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) website contains health profiles of American Indian and Alaskan Natives, Asian Americans, Black/African Americans, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. The OMH Resource Center’s collection of books, documents, reports, journal articles, and media is searchable via the online catalog. Consumer health materials are available in more than 40 languages. If you want to find national or regional organizations providing health information to minority communities, use the Advanced Search option (format=organization).

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities examines factors contributing to health disparities among underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minorities. Also look at the resources targeted for each of the populations mentioned above in MedlinePlus.

State and local governments

Some federal agency studies present minority health data at the state or local level. There are organizations of state and local authorities concerned with health disparities as well. For example:

  • The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) tracks health disparity regulation.
  • The National Association of County Health Officials (NACCHO) has a program that supports efforts to confront the causes of unequal distribution of disease and health resources, Health Equity and Social Justice. Its six-module Roots of Health Inequity course is open to individuals and groups.

Not-for-profit organizations conducting research

Several health organizations fund research through partnerships with not-for-profits or universities. “Healthy Communities” is the focus of research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWF). For example, RWF funds the Advancing Health Equity initiative at the University of Chicago.

Minority Health Journals

Some publications dedicated to minority health issues are available through NOVA Libraries’ online databases, such as EBSCO Academic Search, while others can be accessed via the web. In addition, several titles that remain behind publisher firewalls have open access versions allowing the public to read articles covering minority health on their site, or via PubMed. Here’s a list of a few open access publications:

American Journal of Public Health 

Ethnicity & Disease 

Ethnicity & Health

Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 

SSM (Social Science & Medicine) Population Health 

Journal of health, population and nutrition 



Check out the databases on trial in the library and let us know whether we should subscribe!

When conducting research before writing an essay or term paper, you may begin at our A-Z list of all databases available through the NOVA libraries. Scroll down and look at the right-hand side of the page to see the databases that we’re considering as future purchases. Try them out and let us know what you think!

magazine icon


We had to limit access to our current magazine shelves during the pandemic. In the past, students would browse the shelves and flip through current issues of all sorts of titles, ranging from Bloomberg Businessweek to Vogue. On trial now is EBSCO’s digital newsstand, Flipster, where you can read the latest issues of digital magazines that would be behind a firewall if you tried to access them through their individual title or publishers’ websites. Browse any of the 19 categories, from Art & Design to Travel.

Magazines are an excellent way for students to read news stories with a bit more context. The articles encountered might give you a clue as to an interesting topic for your next writing assignment. However, you can find all sorts of titles in this database, from Bon Appetit to Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics to Vanity Fair.

Films Video


The NOVA libraries subscribe to several video collections:

Academic Video Online

American History in Video

Docuseek Streaming Video

ICE Video Library

Kanopy Videos

PBS Videos Online

Sage Streaming Video

Swank Digital Campus

You may already be familiar with the educational videos available in the Films on Demand database. On trial now is Films on Demand – Feature Films for Education. Instructors may choose to assign a title for their students to watch from genres such as Biography, Drama, and Literary Adaptation. However, there’s no reason why you couldn’t look for your favorite Action or Adventure film. If you’ve got children or younger siblings, explore the Animated films in this database. And that’s just the first letter of the alphabet!

Digital Theatre Plus can supplement the teaching of Shakespeare, but you may be inclined to explore the Broadway Digital Archive that is part of this collection.



Those studying horticulture will know of the library’s horticulture research guide. We’re now evaluating a new Gale Gardening and Horticulture database. The look-and-feel of the interface should be familiar to anyone who’s used other Gale databases in our collection, such as Opposing Viewpoints. Let us know if you think that this Gardening & Horticulture database would be of value for your studies!

Tell us what you think!