To Read, or What to Read

What is it about summer and reading? The 2 words seem to go together everywhere you look. I guess the assumption is that people have scads of free time in the summer, although this is certainly not true of library staff!

Still, most of us like to read during the summer, even if it's only the proverbial "beach book." The New York Times asked 8 popular writers what they would take to the beach. Their answers range from Euripides to the gruesome true-crime story of Jeffrey MacDonald; from James Joyce to Cyndi Lauper.

Your tastes might lie somewhere in between those extremes! But there is no doubt that reading on a hot summer afternoon, either beneath a shady tree, on the beach, or in the shelter of air conditioning, is a relaxing and enjoyable activity.

What to choose? Did you know the online catalog can actually help? Many works of fiction are cataloged with Library of Congress Subject Headings (we call them LCSH). Pick a general topic, add the word "Fiction" to a subject search, and voilà! Here are some examples:

This search works for almost any topic you can think of (cats, trials, or vampires). And it works for geographic areas too. Want to read about California, Spain, China or Russia? I could go on all day!

Personally, I use book reviews as a primary source for finding new, or not-so-new, works of fiction to read. The New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books are my favorites. Although I have to confess that I much prefer reading the paper copy! (BTW, these particular publications are also essential for keeping up with scholarship in your field).

In the library, you can also browse the McNaughton book shelves on M Level, or browse down on D Level where we keep all works of fiction. Our growing collection of e-books also includes works of fiction. So whether you like turning pages or scrolling down screens, there are plenty of reading opportunities for all that free time on your hands!

About Sue Waterman

Librarian for German and Romance Languages and Literature, the Humanities Center, and the Program in Jewish Studies. Curator for Modern European Literature

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