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How We Read: Sense-Making

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.

Sherri Farber is the Information Literacy Instruction Librarian in the Alexander Library, the author of the Summer Session Research Guide, which helps students stay on top of the assignments with effective research knowledge and skills during fast-paced summer classes.

What kinds of books do you like to read?
Historical fiction, biographies, professional literature (on information literacy, critical librarianship, civic engagement, public policy)

Do you have format preferences (print, ebook, audiobook, abridged, original language/translated, etc.)?
In the last few months, I’ve been listening to lots of audiobooks, but only for fiction. Prior to this recent development, I was reading fiction on my phone. I prefer to read professional literature in print.

How do you find new books to read?
I look for award-winning books, read New York Times book reviews, or other lists from trusted sources. I also like to read classic literature in my mix. I take some recommendations from friends and family.

Where and when do you read? Outdoors or indoors? At home or out and about? Mornings, evenings, or just before bed?
I have recently replaced listening to political podcasts with audiobooks that I listen to during my daily dog walks and while driving. I never listen to audiobooks at home. I read my print books before bed. I often devote time for professional literature in the evening.

Do you use any libraries or library resources for non-required reading?
Only for professional literature.

What do you get out of your non-required reading?
I have leaned hard on my audiobooks in the last year as a type of therapeutic activity. I’ve experienced extreme levels of stress, and I’ve used fiction to transport my mind to a different state––to stop the ruminating, the anxiety, and the worry. When I stop listening, I remain in a better state of mind.

What are you currently reading, or what have you read and enjoyed most recently?
I am reading Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell––fabulous, enjoying every minute of it, and The Promise of Access by Daniel Greene. I recently read The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia––beautiful.

Recommend a book in one sentence that you think everyone should read:
I don’t think such a thing exists. Like visual art, when we read––the act of reading is one of interpretation or sense-making. When we are lucky, we encounter a book that gives us what we need, which mostly becomes apparent only after we have completed it and sense we are better for having done so.

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