Reading for Fun: Another GC-Sponsored Experience!

With the winter break upon us, members of the Graduate Center’s community may finally be able to look past papers, exams, and grading to the few precious weeks when classes aren’t meeting. While many (most? all?) of us will need to continue academic work, this is also an opportunity to explore reading material that doesn’t begin with “The Journal of…”

Newsstand, 32nd Street and Third Avenue. Berenice Abbott, for the Federal Art Project, 1935, accessed from

Yes, there is reading material in our databases that is not all peer-reviewed, and some of it is a lot of fun! (Remember fun?) The library’s academic databases offer electronic avenues to a gratifying number of general-interest (or, at least, less-specific-interest) publications. We hope that you’re already taking advantage of your free New York Times and Wall Street Journal accounts (if not, follow those links). You also have direct access to the GC’s subscriptions to the New York Review of Books and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

There are, it’s true, different levels of reading pleasure available through the library’s e-resources. On the one hand, you can go through Academic Search Complete and read the Atlantic Monthly in PDF format, and you’ll be viewing reproductions of the original magazine pages (at least for issues between 1993 and the present; before that, the database only displays bibliographic records). On the other hand, Gale Literature Review can only offer the text of articles in the New Yorker. This isn’t quite so satisfying a visual experience as the Atlantic, and several rungs below NYRB or CHE. You’ll still be able to read Hilton Als’s 2003 profile of Toni Morrison, but it’ll be in HTML-formatted text and you won’t get the cartoons (or Richard Avedon’s portrait of Morrison).

In between, you have publications like New York Magazine, 2005-present, presented in plain text but accompanied by the print article’s original images.

Through ProQuest, you can search through and then download full PDFs of the New York Times Book Review back to 1997 (and abstracts back to 1986). PDFs are available for the Paris Review, 1953 to the present, or Phi Beta Kappa’s American Scholar from 1974 on, or post-1992 Texas Monthly. Even academics sometimes have to buy appliances, and to identify the best refrigerator or toaster, you can use the library’s access to Consumer Reports and the CR Buying Guide. If you’re interested in Rolling Stone, however, you’ll probably be happier accessing the long-form pieces through the magazine’s website than through the library’s EBSCO or ProQuest access points; if you read “The Six-Decade Odyssey of Kurt Cobain’s Sweater,” you really ought to be able to see the photo of the sweater in question.

This isn’t a complete or even a comprehensive accounting of the magazines that you can find through our databases. To check a title you’re interested in, use the journal search tool and type in your read of choice. Many periodicals are available through multiple databases; investigate to see which avenue has the easiest interface and shows the content in the most readable form. Wired? HTML only, alas, no matter which database you choose. Harper’s? Limited coverage (1992–2007), but EBSCO provides full-text PDFs for articles in that range.

Were you wondering what you were going to do with all that precious free time? Now you have your answer.


About the Author

Katherine Pradt is the Adjunct Reference and Digital Outreach Librarian at the Graduate Center.