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May 15

Read For Fun, Or Read To Learn? by Angela Salgado

Posted on May 15, 2020 at 10:46 AM by Angela Salgado

book pages bent to form a heart

This question comes up a lot, in one form or another, at Campbell Library. Sometimes it’s a discussion between staff members, who like any group of coworkers have very diverse tastes in books. Sometimes it’s a patron, who seems a little embarrassed that they generally only read a certain type of book and don't branch out from their comfort zone often. It can be a sensitive subject but I am here to say, it’s alright to read whatever it is that brings you joy and fulfills your purpose for reading!


However, there’s definitely advantages to both reading for fun and reading to learn. Here’s the balance I have struck in my own reading habits. The time I do my most reading is right before bed at night. By then, I’m pretty tired and have no interest in working through something really difficult that’s going to require a lot of thought. So I mostly stick to novels that are engaging (but not so thrilling that I won’t put the book down and go to sleep). A few of my recent favorites that the library owns in e-book format include The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout, Long Bright River by Liz Moore, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones


On the other hand, first thing in the morning while I am running or driving, I find that I have the mental energy to learn something new and that is when I engage in rereading the classics, and listening to nonfiction titles in audiobook format. I find that this is an especially great time to listen to memoirs, because they are often read by the author which makes them extra interesting! My recommendations from our catalog would include Open Book by Jessica Simpson, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick.  


Although of the two, I treasure my late night bestseller reading time more, I find the time I spend listening to nonfiction or classics in the morning to be so valuable. It absolutely broadens my horizons, helps me to see the world from new perspectives, teaches me new information about our modern world, and gives me a foundation of knowledge about the past. If I didn’t commit that time to nonfiction books, I’d be missing out!


But going back to where we started...this is a deeply personal topic and there is no wrong answer! Read what brings you joy, when it works for you. And know that the staff at Campbell Library is there to help you find that right next book to dive into, and that we too don’t always read what we “should” but rather read what we enjoy and what fulfills our purposes for that time and space in our lives. Happy reading!


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