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How to Find Something Fun to Read: Resources @ University of Iowa

You do a LOT of studying. You deserve a break once in a while! Come learn about how to find interesting books here in the library when you're not exactly sure what you're looking for.

General Tips for Finding Fun Books to Read

There are more than 5,000,000 books available to you through the University of Iowa Libraries! In this LibGuide, we want to help you find books that you'll truly enjoy both inside and outside of class.

The most useful tip for finding good books at the library is to simply ask a librarian! They're familiar with the collection and always ready to help with any sort of question. To contact them through IM (instant messenger) chat immediately or learn more about them, go to the "Contact Us" library page here or simply type your question into the box below!



If you want to find a book (or journal article, or e-book, or anything else really!) in the UI Libraries, then you can use InfoHawk+ to find it! To search through our entire catalog, including some of our databases, click on this link.

To learn more about how to use InfoHawk+, please look at this LibGuide as well.

General Structure of the Main Library

Book Locations in Main Library

Floor Books (Library of Congress Classification Code* Ranges)
2 PS 3517 - Z
3 Journals & Magazines, Special Collections, University Archives, Theses & Dissertations
4 E - PS 3515, Folios F - Z
5 A - D, Folios A - F, Government Information

* Library of Congress Classification codes are the call numbers that are placed on each library book's spine to allow people to find books on the bookshelves. Each combination of letters denotes a general subject, with the later letters and numbers marking its specific place in the library. To find a book in the library, match the first two letters of your desired book's call number to the table above, then look for the book's location within the alphabetically-organized bookshelves on the appropriate floor. To learn more about this system, please look at the official Library of Congress Classification codes here (they're pretty fun to explore!) or watch the explanatory video below.


Online Resources

Book News and Reviews

People love to talk about books and what they think about them online. If you want to join in the conversation, check out the websites below!

  • Literary Hub
    • Literary fiction and non-fiction news and reviews
  • Chicago Review of Books
    • Book reviews, interviews, and essays with a focus on the Midwest/Chicago literary scene
  • Publisher's Weekly
    • A  trade magazine for people that work with books such as publishers and librarians, with a focus on book reviews
    • Physical versions of this magazine are available on the third floor in the Journals & Magazine section, which is organized alphabetically
  • Words Without Borders
    • Free online magazine dedicated to contemporary literature from around the world
  • World Literature Today
    • Similar to Words Without Borders in scope, but with a print magazine component as well
    • This is also offered as a physical magazine on the third floor in the alphabetically-organized Journals & Magazines section
  • The Nervous Breakdown
    • Online literary magazine that contains excerpts, reviews, and interviews
  • Electric Literature
  • Booklist
    • Book reviews by librarians
  • The Complete Review
    • Since 1999, one man has continuously reviewed books online (he's up to 4500 as of January 2020)
    • A lot of literary fiction, with a fondness for world/translated literature

Book Prizes

There are many, many book prizes out there for books of all types, from the most popular to the most niche. A sampling of such book prizes is below.


Book-centered podcasts have flourished as the medium of podcasting itself has grown. Some examples are below.

  • Literature and History
    • A literature PhD takes you through the history of Anglophone literature from the very beginning (Cuneiform tablets) to modern times
    • Ends every episode with a goofy song about the books he was discussing
  • 3 Books
    • A book lover asks people such as Judy Blume, Malcolm Gladwell, and David Sedaris about the 3 most important books in their lives
    • Also has a list of every book mentioned on the show in case one sounded interesting to you
  • LeVar Burton Reads
    • Short stories read by LeVar Burton, the former host of Reading Rainbow

Publisher Catalogs

Publishers release catalogs of their upcoming titles to showcase their works and, frankly, create hype. If you're a fan of a certain publisher's output, look for their catalogs and see if there's anything you might be interested in coming out soon. Some example catalogs are below.

  • Bloomsbury
    • Famous for publishing the Harry Potter series
  • Macmillan
    • Notable imprints include Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG) and Tor Books
  • New Directions
    • Large focus on translations
  • Simon & Schuster
    • One of the United States' "Big Five" publishers

Young Adult (YA) Books

In the Main Library

If you like Young Adult (YA) literature, there's a secret island of it on the second floor of the Main Library!

  • From PZ 3.F4579 Pr 1944 cop.1 - PZ 90.K3 R35 2015 cop.1
    • Some standouts in the collection include a small comics/manga section from PZ 7.5 W55 Gli 2010 cop.1 - PZ 7.7 Y934 Mar 2012 cop.1, and a number of children's books in various languages at the end of the section!


Online Resources


In the Main Library

The University of Iowa has one of the world's largest collections of concrete and visual poetry in the Sackner Archive in Special Collections on the third floor. The collection is currently preparing to open later in January. To learn more about it, and see some of its treasures, please read this blog post!

Other poetry in the Main Library is split between the second and fourth floors.

  • From P - PS (fourth floor) - PS - PZ (second floor)
    • To better find whatever type of poetry you're looking for, please look through this list (try using CTRL + F "poetry") and go to the call number location provided in the Main Library

If you're interested in contemporary poetry, there are also many physical literary journals in the library! Browse the third floor's Journals & Magazines section, which is organized alphabetically according to the name of the publication, and see what's there. A few example journals are below.


Online Resources

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In the Main Library

If you want to physically browse the literature and books about literature available in the library, they're going to be on the second and fourth floors.

  • From PN - PZ
    • Specifically, PN 1.A3 v.10-11 1968-1969 (fourth floor) - PZ 90.K3 R35 2015 cop.1 (second floor)

There are also many publications available in the library that have book reviews that you can use to find interesting books. Because the publications are rather large, they are in an oversize section on the third floor next to Faculty Study Room 3134 (visible here on a map of the library's floor plan, under the Math Journals section on the third floor).

  • Times Literary Supplement
    • Based in London
    • The library provides online access to this as well through the Factiva database
  • New York Times Book Review
    • Released weekly, both as a separate publication and as an included part of the Sunday New York Times
      • The library offers free access to the online version of the New York Times to University of Iowa students and staff, which includes access to the New York Times Review of Books! To sign up, click here!


Online Resources

When you find a book you like, be sure to search for more information about its publisher because they've usually published similar work before! To get a better idea of the literary landscape, here are some publishers and their specialties.

Graphic Novels / Manga

In the Main Library

If you like graphic novels and manga, there are wonderful collections of both on the fourth floor of the Main Library!

  • From PN 6525.W65D7 2019 cop. 1 - PN 6790.V43P63 2016 cop. 1
  • There is a manga section within the above, as well as a sizeable collection of comics in Spanish and other languages near the end of the section


Online Resources



  • Publisher's Weekly
    • As one of the most prominent publishing industry publications, it covers comics/graphic novels extensively


In the Main Library

If you like non-fiction writing, you're in luck because most of the library's collection is non-fiction! Honestly, one of the best ways to orient yourself in our gigantic collection is through the Library of Congress' resources.

  • Here is a link to the Library of Congress' Classification system, which organizes all of the books of the University of Iowa Libraries
  • Please click on the general subject you are interested in, and keep clicking on and searching through the more specific subject links until you find the classification code of your desired subject
  • Look for your desired classification code on our shelves to see what we have
    • For help with this, look at "General Structure of the Main Library" in the above box
  • If you have any questions at all, a librarian would be happy to help you find something as well!


Online Resources

  • New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year
    • Every year, the New York Times publishes a list of 100 great books organized into categories such as fiction, poetry, etc.
    • They have categories that cover non-fiction genres such as general non-fiction and memoir
  • Longreads
    • A website that spotlights longform non-fiction articles from around the web. Great for finding non-fiction authors!
  • Longform
    • A similar website to Longreads that also shares notable longform non-fiction articles
    • They also have a long-running podcast that interviews non-fiction authors
      • Check out the most recent episode of the podcast below!
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Ask A Librarian

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Max Radl
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University of Iowa Main Library
125 W. Washington St
Iowa City, IA
RM 1026