Adults may experience a “quieter mind” after reading fiction

Learn from Leah why you should take a chance on fiction–then start the Summer Reading Challenge at Lawrence Public Library (Lawrence, KS).

by Kayla Cook, Media Relations & Communications Specialist, feat. Leah Newton, Readers' Services Technician

Q&A with Leah Newton, Readers' Services Technician

The Summer Reading Challenge is for all ages! Learn from Leah why you should take a chance on fiction–then complete the Summer Reading Challenge and watch your life improve (at the very least with a sweet Summer Reading tote bag*!) *while supplies lasts Need prompts for your fiction reading? Check out Book Squad Goals.

Leah, you’re the Book Squad’s resident Fantasy-lover, and you’ve said reading is an integral part of your self-care routine. How has reading fiction regularly improved your life?

Imagination is such a key part of what makes someone a well rounded person mentally. It ties in closely with our empathy for others. When we read a story with lived experience and ideology different from our own, we put ourselves in the shoes of the character, we imagine what it must be like to be them. On the other hand, seeing ourselves reflected in fiction makes us feel seen and heard in ways we’re perhaps not used to. Fiction can both broaden your perspective and give you affirming representation, which I think everyone could use more of. 

"My mind is quieter when I’m reading regularly."

What do you notice about your mood and outlook on life if you don’t read for a while? 

It’s been a bit since I’ve tested this, haha, because I make it a point to read every single day. I can say with certainty that my mind is quieter when I’m reading regularly. 

"Historical and contemporary literary fiction both jump to mind as great segues for fiction-wary readers."

Some adults share that they “just cannot get into fiction” and insist they must stay reading about the “real world.” Why would you recommend more adults take a chance on fiction? 

Fiction can teach us so many things. Historical and contemporary literary fiction both jump to mind as great segues for fiction-wary readers. There are so, so many historical novels that were impeccably researched, and so, so many contemporary novels that speak directly to current events. The people are made up, the stories are very real. 

What is your personal record for most books read in a summer? In a year?

I think last year I cracked 25 for the summer! And 105 for the year. That was a new "PR".

One fun part of reading for pleasure is learning new words to integrate into your daily vocabulary. Do you have a favorite word you recently learned from a book and, if so, which book?

I’ve recently learned a whole new slang lexicon from the Red Rising Saga by Pierce Brown. It always impresses me when fantasy and sci-fi authors can take words that already exist in the English language and make them profane through context. I love it.

Need Summer Reading fiction recs? Check out the list below.

Lawrence Picks: Summer Reading 2024

List created by LPL_ReadersServices

Adventure Begins at Your Library! Here are the Book Squad's most highly recommended summer reading reads!

View Full List

So much of our lives are spent engaging in video content these days. Why might you recommend reading a book over streaming a movie or TV series or scrolling on TikTok or Instagram?

Look, I’m as guilty as anyone else of accidentally losing too much time mindlessly scrolling through video. Literally as it’s happening I recognize that my brain is seeking the instant hit of dopamine that comes from this format of entertainment. And once you get going it’s hard to stop. This is the well-documented addictive nature of TikToks, opens a new window, Reels, opens a new window, YouTube shorts, opens a new window, etc. But the mood boosting quality is fleeting and ultimately bad for our attention spans. Watching is passive, reading is active. It’s like exercise for your brain!

"Reading is a quiet, peaceful, solitary activity that’s the perfect way to unwind before bed. "

A recent study, opens a new window found that adults who read before bed sleep better. Do you find this to be true? Are there any particular fiction books you notice have a positive impact on how you sleep?

Well, this is anecdotally true for me, sure. Adults have so much going on in their minds all the time–so many responsibilities and worries–and that can be so much harder to turn off than our exhausted bodies at the end of the day. Reading is physically relaxing but takes focus. It makes us use our brain space for this one thing that doesn’t so often spin us into another direction mentally. It’s a quiet, peaceful, solitary activity that’s the perfect way to unwind before bed. 

As a Book Squad member, you offer personalized reading recommendations to any Lawrencian who asks! What is your favorite part of that work?

Imposing my opinions of the best books on others, of course. Sort of joking? But not really. I love it when a personal recommendation request comes in that just vibes with everything I’ve been reading and loving lately and I can share that with them.

"I host two of LPL’s clubs and I come away from every single meeting with a perspective I never would’ve arrived at on my own."

In the digital age and following the COVID-19 pandemic, we seek in-person community with other people more than ever. Is there a book you’ve read recently that brought you closer together to a coworker, family member, or friend?

So, rather than a specific book and/or relationship, what immediately pops to mind when I hear this question is how much I love book club. I host two of LPL’s clubs and I come away from every single meeting with a perspective I never would’ve arrived at on my own. And indeed, our clubs are really flourishing in the wake of COVID. Readers are so often thought of as introverts, since we usually prefer this quiet, solitary activity over, say, going to parties, but that doesn’t mean we’re not social creatures that want to share what we love with others. Book clubs are the perfect space to do that.

One last question–What are you reading, Leah?

The Last Murder at the End of the World by Stuart Turton. Really digging it so far!

About Lawrence Public Library
Lawrence Public Library (LPL for short) is a community hub that believes in the power of connecting with each other through shared knowledge and resources. Located in the heart of Downtown Lawrence, Kansas, we are committed to providing a space where our community can learn, connect, create, and grow through access to our vast collections, resources, services, programs, and knowledgeable staff. The library is supported by tax dollars, record-breaking book sales and philanthropic efforts by the LPL Friends & Foundation, and the dedicated efforts of more than 300 volunteers. All are welcome.



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