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:
- 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.”
- The New Yorker
(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?
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:
- NPR’s Diverse Sources Database helps its journalists to find experts from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the media.
- The Google site Find POC Experts links to relevant resources that provide expert contacts, such as the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity; Politics of Race, Immigration, and Ethnicity Consortium; and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.
- WomenAlsoKnowStuff helps researchers find political scientists – those holding PhDs who happen to be female.
- Diverse Sources invites experts whose voices and perspectives have been ignored in the past to list themselves in this directory of science, health, and the environment.
- The Open Notebook links to several databases of diverse scientists in chemistry, physics, astronomy/astrophysics, engineering, and neuroscience.
- EU-funded GenPORT hosts the Expert Women in Life Sciences WILS database of women in science.
- 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).
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.
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.
The NOVA libraries subscribe to several video collections:
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!