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How We Read: De-Stressing

The Books We Read Blog is conducting a series of interviews with contributors and friends of the blog to get a snapshot of our reading habits: the things we like to read, the circumstances in which we read, and more.

Harmony Birch, MI 2022, was a SC&I Graduate Assistant and Summer Tales/Books We Read member in 2021. Her video related to Julie Otsuka’s Diem Perdidi was the winner of the Summer Tales 2021 Creative Contest. She also worked on projects at the Douglass Library. Read all posts by Harmony Birch.

What kinds of books do you like to read?
I love fantasy books, but I also read a lot of contemporary literature. Lately, I’ve been into romance. I also read a lot of YA books to stay abreast of current trends.

Do you have format preferences (print, ebook, audiobook, abridged, original language/translated, etc.)?
I primarily read via audiobook. It makes reading a lot more accessible and less time-consuming and I love that I can multitask while reading. I prefer reading print books when I’m reading complex worlds or more dense books and enjoy ebooks when I’m reading nonfiction.

How do you find new books to read?
I browse bookstores and take pictures of interesting books, bookstagram and #booktok, Book Riot, press agent emails, and Scribd audiobook recommendations.

Where and when do you read? Outdoors or indoors? At home or out and about? Mornings, evenings, or just before bed?
I listen to audiobooks while running, cleaning, doing boring work tasks like cataloging, commuting, and right before bed. I read with my eyes on commutes and outside on my stoop with my morning coffee.

Do you use any libraries or library resources for non-required reading?
All the time. I use my local libraries frequently for audiobooks and occasionally a print book. I use the Rutgers libraries all the time for independent research. Whether it’s to prove a point or win an argument with a family member, to find research for my friends for their work or school, or to find scholarly work for my podcast. I also occasionally need a book that’s not immediately accessible via my public libraries and often Rutgers will have a digital copy for me.

What do you get out of your non-required reading?
I think most it de-stresses me, especially when I read with my eyes. My audiobooks generally help me concentrate or complete boring tasks or distract me but reading with my eyes is a form of self-care.

What are you currently reading, or what have you read and enjoyed most recently?
Currently I’m reading The Fate of Stars: A Fantasy Lesbian Romance. I’m still early on but I think it’s going to be spicy. The last book I really enjoyed was The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova. It has Practical Magic, the movie, vibes but with more surrealism and depth.

Recommend a book in one sentence that you think everyone should read:
You Are Here A Field Guide for Navigating Polarized Speech, Conspiracy Theories, and Our Polluted Media Landscape by Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner. What if we took a collectivist approach to information literacy?

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