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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
The Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) speakers’ bureau, AAJA Studio, lists AAPI experts on such topics as Civil Rights & Voting Rights; Courts, Constitution, & Justice; Diversity & Inclusion; Economy, Business & Jobs; Environment; Government; Health; Housing; Immigration; National Security & Cybersecurity; Politics & Elections; and Technology.
Users can limit searches in the Editors of Color database by areas of expertise, genre (fiction and nonfiction), types of media, and country/state/province).
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.
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.
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.
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 BookSpotFirst 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 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 BookAwards.
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.
Goodreads.com 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:
AllReaders.com, featuring detailed book reviews from many genres, including science-fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and more.
BookBrowse.com 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.
Track New Book (tracknewbook.com) helps you find new books related to the websites you visit, sending you an email as new books are published by authors you track (discovery.tracknewbook.com).
Lovereading UK (lovereading.co.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 (gnooks.com) 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(bookseer.com) will supply the answer.
WhichBook (openingthenbook.com/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 (fictionDB.com) 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 ProQuestGlobal Newsstream, for example.
EBSCOAcademic 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.
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!
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.
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!
You may have heard librarians talk about information literacy or perhaps media literacy (“fake news”) during library instruction sessions. Through the past year you may have discovered a “new” need to focus on health or financial literacy. As April is Financial Literacy Month, we thought we’d help you apply what you’ve learned from us about information literacy to the realm of finance.
When seeking financial guidance, try using the SIFT method:
When you’re looking at a website or other source of information, STOP and start with a plan. Consider what you want to know and the purpose of your current inquiry. Where is this information likely to be found? Who might have looked into this before?
Think about the site you are viewing, who made it, and why. Is this the best resource to tap? Can you gauge their expertise in this area by reviewing their academic and professional credentials? Usually, a quick check is enough, but sometimes you’ll want a deep investigation to verify all claims made and check all the sources.
Investigate the source
Know the author’s expertise and the motives of the publisher of the information so that you can interpret it free of bias. Verify the information by seeing what others have to say about the source. Do other sites/resources concur?
Read carefully and consider while you click. Rather than reading one article to the end, open multiple tabs for lateral reading.
Find trusted coverage
Look for the best information on a topic by scanning multiple sources. Find an in-depth analysis and read multiple viewpoints. Don’t forget to look beyond the first few results returned from your search, bypassing the ads that appear at the top of many Google searches. (You can avoid this by using The MarkUp’s extension for Firefox and Chrome Browsers, Simple Search, that eliminates the extraneous material that crowds that first page of results returned in a Google or Bing search.)
Trace to the original
Don’t consider claims or quotes as gospel; trace them back to the original source to be sure that individuals have been quoted accurately and in context. Think about what might have been clipped out of a story, a photo, or video. What might have happened just before or after? When a research paper is mentioned in a news story, go to the original document to be sure that the study has been accurately reported. Find the original source to see the context so you can decide if the version you have is accurately presented. For example, if you’re consulting Wikipedia, scroll down to the references, using the links to view to the original.
Financial educators recognize the importance of gaming apps that are designed to help consumers understand the ins and outs of financial investing. Troutwood.com was founded at Carnegie Mellon University’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. The website has a translator of financial terms into plain English, a podcast, and goal-setting challenges for those seeking an understanding of student loans, the S&P 500, auto loans, credit cards, Roth IRAs, and 401Ks. The site features three simulators: Time Portal (timeportal.troutwood.com), Stock Market (troutwood.com/sp500-calculator.html), and Crisis Calculator (troutwood.com/crisis-calculator). Try them out – or look for the Troutwood app in the Apple store where you’ll find a great Buy Sell Hold simulation.
To get you started on your financial learning program, here are additional resources to explore:
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has a website (360financialliteracy.org) designed to help you understand personal finance.
CashCourse.org provides free online financial education courses through instructor assignments or self-study; customizable financial worksheets, a budget wizard, quizzes, and calculators; a personal dashboard for tracking your progress; articles/resources; and a guide to real-life money questions.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov) contains educational resources to help consumers make better, more informed financial decisions.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) website employs game-based learning in their computer-based instruction tool, Money Smart. Modules help adults learn how to better manage their finances. All modules are available in English and Spanish.
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Information website features a blog and resources about saving/spending money wisely, credit/debt, housing, and work/school.
Khan Academy has a series of Personal Finance life skill advice and resources to guide users into making better decisions.
Congress established a Federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission in 2003. The Commission’s website, MyMoney.gov, features information, games, and fun facts about money, saving, and planning for the future. Lesson plans on the site serve as a resource of federally-funded research reports and articles on financial topics.
FINNY creates bite-sized, personalized learning opportunities covering any topic that might interest you: budgeting, saving more, managing taxes, insurance, investing, and more.
PracticalMoneySkills.com is chock full of resources for learning about topics such as evaluating your finances and understanding credit. It includes resources for teaching children about finance too.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has gathered resources on Investor.gov to help individuals “make sound investment decisions and avoid fraud.”
SmartAboutMoney.org has free online courses for learning at your own pace, on your own time. Topics are timely, such as crisis and fraud, education and career, family and finances, holidays and money, housing and transportation, insurance and taxes, retirement and aging, saving and investing, spending and borrowing.
Look for college business school courses that have developed websites for financial literacy education, such as Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy. Several academic libraries, eager to support their instructors and students, have developed LibGuides on the subject. Find one on the web that meets your needs.
Sunshine Week is a celebration of the public’s right to see U.S. government records. Initiated in 2005, Sunshine Week features events sponsored by groups interested in the public’s right to know about its government, including government agencies, news organizations, universities, and libraries. These public events are designed to raise awareness about how important openness and transparency in government are for a democratic society. This year, Sunshine Week is celebrated the week of March 14-20, encompassing the March 16 birthday of James Madison, known as the “father of the Bill of Rights.”
Sunshine Week events
A Sunshine Week events calendar describes each event, date and time, and how to register or join. For example:
On March 15, Open the Government will host a panel discussion of the Trump Presidential Library and records, “What Presidents Do to Keep Us from Knowing What Presidents Do.”
Also on March 15 is the New England First Amendment Coalition online webinar, “Keeping the Light On: Holding Government Accountable,” examining “the values of open and responsive government and how all citizens play a role.”
The News Leaders Association webinar on March 18 features a discussion by journalists “on how they navigated barriers to public records to tell important stories about COVID-19, official misconduct and beyond.”
Join the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition on March 18 for an online discussion, “Truth Be Told: The Proliferation of Online Misinformation and Disinformation — And What We Can Do About It.” Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/truth-be-told-tickets-143849839743
The DC Open Government Coalition is holding a webinar on Thursday afternoon, March 18. The full schedule is on their website. There are three panels exploring the laws about open data, meetings and records; education data; and accessing the state of access to D.C. records and agency compliance with public requests.
Federal agencies often celebrate Sunshine Week. This year, the events are virtual, including:
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) celebrated Sunshine Week by introducing a bill (H.R. 1929) to update the Presidential Records Preservation Act of 1978, assuring that good records management practices are applied to electronic messages.
Open Data Day
In actuality, the celebrations begin on Saturday, March 6, with Open Data Day, a global effort to bring together individuals interested in increasing access to information online. There are many online events this year, headquartered in the United States and abroad. Search for events in which you might wish to participate at https://opendataday.org/events/2021/.
NOVA students are informed citizens
Students should understand what information is available from the government and how to gain access to it. Participating in a Sunshine Week event might be your first step in discovering what to do when obstacles are in your way.
Watch this space throughout Sunshine Week (#SunshineWeek) for more about openness and transparency in government!
For the foreseeable future, many of us will be working from home (wfh). Resources can help those unsure of what may await us as remote workers, including books. NOVA librarians have searched the library catalog for titles that might ease the path. All are available as eBooks, so while our physical libraries are closed, check out these titles:
NOVA’s Bookstores have joined with VitalSource, an online digital textbook vendor. This means that NOVA students will have free access to textbooks available through VitalSource through the Spring 2020 term. Students can register here using their NOVA email address (there is a link at the bottom to create a VitalSource account). Once you gain access, explore VitalSource’s Bookshelf to check if your assigned textbook is available, and voila!
As learning shifts online, even the best of students, accustomed to learning in a physical classroom with an instructor present, can feel unsure how to proceed. Coursera has been offering courses to students online since 2011. In response to Covid-19, their learning community has compiled a list of tips for first-time online learners, beginning with setting daily study goals and creating a dedicated study space. For elaboration on these and other tips, click here.
Podcasts are a great resource for learning as well as entertainment. As we cope with tech resets in our wfh environment, take a listen to PwC-UK’s s A-Z of Tech podcast series. The latest episode (12), K is for kids, covers how to “teach children about their digital rights and protect them from online harms.” Subscribe to the series in iTunes, SoundCloud, Acast, or Spotify.
Speaking of Children
Time and Newsweek were once the go-to weeklies for news coverage. TIME for Kids is now available in four grade-specific digital editions (K-1, G2, G3-4, and G5-6). There is even a website for teachers and parents with teaching materials for the lessons. Also, on the site is an archive of their financial literacy monthly magazine designed to help children learn about managing money on an age-appropriate level.
There have been many technology resource lists compiled in recent days. TechforLearners.org offers free grade-specific tech lessons curated from a wide range of education tech organizations. Users can specify the grade level in which they are interested (PK-5, 6-8, 9-12, higher ed, workforce) and content (e.g., math, science, reading, writing, social studies).
Return to this blog soon for additional resources to make you a successful educator, student, and worker-from-home.
Now that many of us have spent at least a week at home getting acclimated to remote learning, it’s time to breathe again. Why not look at the coming weeks as an opportunity to read that book you’ve always wanted to tackle? Although you can’t come to the library on campus to roam the stacks seeking a physical book to borrow, you can visit our library virtually. Search in “Books & eBooks” and look for ways to limit to “full text online,” or see How to Find and Download eBooks for a comprehensive list of all the databases offering eBooks to the NOVA community. For those who want to listen to a book rather than read it, explore the audio books available online in Overdrive Audio.
If you’ve been spending too much time binging on Netflix, how about trying a documentary for a change? You can access thousands of movies through the college’s access to Kanopy. Explore Kanopy and other free online video collections linked in the library’s Guide to Streaming Video.
Finally, think of these weeks as a concentrated time period to learn a new language. There are over 70 languages to choose from in Mango. You can start learning a language as a novice; for most languages, that would mean Chapter 1, Small talk. If what you need is a language “refresher,” just jump right in and explore the listening and reading activities available for the language(s) you already speak. Your myNOVA login (email address/password) will get you remote access to these databases.
In the coming weeks, we’ll keep this blog active with additional learning opportunities that support your formal coursework. If you’ve been curious about how to do something in the library, learning the ins-and-outs of a particular database, or identifying tools for safe exploration of the web, send a request to LOfirstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to cover the topic in upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, stay healthy!