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How We Read: Learning Constantly

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.

Meredith Parker is Science Reference and Instruction Librarian, who was based out of the Library of Science and Medicine before she moved on to a new position at Duke University. She worked with Books We Read and Summer Tales in 2021-2022.

What kinds of books do you like to read?
Nonfiction (history, popular science, social commentary); pop fiction; novels recommended by reviewers or friends and family

Do you have format preferences (print, ebook, audiobook, abridged, original language/translated, etc.)?
No–I use all of them! I read print and ebooks pretty equally. I listen to audiobooks less, but partially because I don’t drive as much as I used to.

How do you find new books to read?
A lot of my friends are also avid readers, so we frequently recommend books to each other. I also look for year-end best of lists (i.e., the New York Times 10 best books of the year lists) and try to read a few of those. I am also a sucker for Kindle book suggestions.

Where and when do you read? Outdoors or indoors? At home or out and about? Mornings, evenings, or just before bed?
There is no one particular time that I read. On the couch, in my bed, on an airplane. I probably read outside the least because I am easily distracted by the sunshine and sounds of nature. I like to read before I go to sleep at night, but I also read for significant chunks of time during the day on most weekends.

Do you use any libraries or library resources for non-required reading?
I belong to my local public library and frequently borrow books from there.

What do you get out of your non-required reading?
I read a lot of nonfiction because I love the opportunity to constantly learn about topics and areas of interest that I would otherwise never explore. I also believe in the power of literature to transport me to a different place, experience, way of life that I would never otherwise experience. I also think that reading expands my vocabulary. When I am reading an e-book, I frequently use the dictionary feature to look up words.

What are you currently reading, or what have you read and enjoyed most recently?
I have just finished Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro. I recently read her first memoir, Slow Motion, and thought I would try reading through all of her memoirs. I loved the way she realistically depicts the changes, strain, and growth that occurs in relationships over time. She is also an incredibly gifted writer and wrote the memoir nonlinearly through a series of vignettes, so the book was also stylistically interesting and beautiful.

Recommend a book in one sentence that you think everyone should read:
I think everyone should read Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman because it’s short, beautifully written, and will challenge the way you think about space, time, and experience.

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