To learn what other students are reading during the summer, Courtney Hicks, a community engagement librarian for the University of Memphis, had students who were passing through the Ned R. McWherter Library write out the names of books they were reading on a whiteboard.
Based on what students wrote on the board, classics such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride” were the most popular.
“We have a lot of those classics,” Hicks said. “We’ve seen ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ ‘As I Lay Dying’ and fun stuff like ‘Harry Potter.’”
Hicks said the library will begin to expand its book selection in the fall.
“We don’t have a lot of popular stuff, but we’re going to start getting some of today’s award-winning books in the fall,” Hicks said. “We’re going to start there and keep going and hopefully get more readers that way.”
In the fall, the library will begin to offer a book club for students to engage in reading for pleasure outside of their academics.
“Back in the spring, I got a group of students together who were interested in getting a book club going,” Hicks said. “We decided we would read three books a semester, and the students will be picking the theme.”
During the summer, some students relieved themselves of stress from the past school year by reading for relaxation.
Tia Glover, a 19-year-old nursing major, uses pleasure reading to keep her educational gears grinding while on summer vacation.
“I go to the library every other week or so to just check out books I think look interesting,” Glover said. “I do it because I generally like stories and learning new things.”
Jodi Picoult, author of The New York Times best seller “My Sister’s Keeper,” tops Glover’s list of favorite authors.
“I love books by Picoult because they’re mysteries but have the legal edge that makes it more realistic and interesting,” Glover said.
Poetry, motivational self-help books and young adult novels attract Glover because they are “relatable to all age groups.”
“I read a lot of YA (young adult) admittedly because they usually follow the arc of self-discovery and growing up, which I think we can all relate to no matter how old we get or what we go through,” Glover said.
Jarquez Steger, a 19-year-old computer science major, said he likes to read science fiction novels, such as Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Martian Chronicles” to “keep his imagination alive.”
“Even though I read Bradbury’s books back in middle school, I read them now for the more advanced and underlying meaning,” Steger said. “Now that I’m older and my imagination has grown, I can interpret books like that differently.”
Steger said reading is relaxing because it “helps take a lot of stress of the mind.”
“It’s kind of like therapy,” Steger said. “When you come across a good one that’s hard to put down, that’s how you know you’ve already forgotten what you were stressed over.”
Students interested in joining the book club in the fall semester can contact Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.