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UNF librarian shares tips to enjoy reading again

According to research, in 2020 American adults spent just over 20 minutes per day reading, which was an increase from previous years. Whether this change was driven by increased media consumption due to the pandemic or a need to occupy one’s mind during a stressful period in history, Americans are reading more.

University of North Florida student outreach librarian Maria Atilano shares her advice on how to get started reading for enjoyment again. “Leisure reading is beneficial for many reasons,” says Atilano. “Studies have shown that frequent readers have higher verbal capabilities, are more understanding of others and show less prejudice towards stigmatized groups.”

Atilano explains that while there is no right or wrong way to start reading for fun, here are some helpful tips:

Visit your library: Reading doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby. UNF’s Thomas G. Carpenter Library has popular print books available for checkout, including classics, young adult fiction, and graphic novels. Search for authors or specific book titles in OneSearch to see if the Library has the book available for free.

Go online: If electronic books are more your style, but you still want to read for free, sign up for a Jacksonville Public Library account to access their e-books and audiobooks via Overdrive. E-books are easily accessible, portable and can be shared across devices, making it an easy way to read while you’re on the go.

Look for inspiration: Don’t be afraid to look or ask for inspiration. The New York Times Book Review is a great place to find information on new reads. End of year lists, like NPR’s “Books We Love” lists from 2013 to 2021, are also a treasure trove of popular titles. If you’re looking for something a little more personal, try; simply type in a favorite title or author and you’ll receive a list of similar books to try next.

Challenge yourself: Book Riot hosts an annual Read Harder Challenge that helps readers break out of their comfort zone and try new and diverse genres, books and authors. Some of this year’s prompts include reading “a book set in a bookstore” and “a classic written by a POC.” Atilano’s picks for these prompts are “Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff and “Kindred” by Octavia Butler, respectively, both of which can be found at the Carpenter Library.

Keep track: There are numerous applications and websites to track what books you’ve read. Atilano’s personal favorite is Goodreads, which also acts as a reading community where you can view what other users are reading, what books they’ve read, and how they rated individual titles. Goodreads also has a yearly reading challenge, where you set a goal for the number of books you want to read.

Get Social: Finding a community of fellow readers, whether it be in person or online, is a great way to reach your reading goals and find recommendations for your next book. Join a Facebook group for readers like The Book Hangout Spot, subscribe to a BookTube channel (aka YouTube for book lovers), like Rincey Reads or start a book club with friends.