As a companion piece to the one I published last week, I’m pleased to give you some reading ideas and other intellectually related activities to take advantage of during this terrible pandemic. The best part is that not one of them involves a television set.
First, I have an update: I’m in the process of setting up DeenaNataf.com, which I hope will be live in the next few months or so. My BulletproofWriting blog will be available there.
Kindle and other free options
Now that my used book store is “closed for the duration,” I have turned to my Kindle for my
reading addiction leisure time. I figure, most of the books I buy on Kindle cost the same as those I buy at the used book store.
Bonus! There are lots of free books, too, as you’ll learn below.
For those of you who do not own and are not going to buy a Kindle, you still have options. (If you buy any of the following products using the links provided, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
First of all, your computer and smartphone can be real lifesavers. Did you know that you can buy any book on Kindle and read it on either one of these devices? For more information, click this link.
Once you’ve downloaded the free Kindle app either on your computer or your phone (or both!), you will pleased to discover that there are many free Kindle books. Here’s a link to Kindle’s free classics library. You can finally sit down and read all those books you’ve been meaning to read for years, from authors such as Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Joseph Conrad, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. There are also many kids’ selections in the free library, and magazines as well. As I’ve said many times, reading the classics is one of the best ways to improve your writing.
If you do want to buy a Kindle, here are your options.
Home with kids? Here’s a link to Kindle for Kids.
Where to find books
Amazon offers Kindle Unlimited, which gives you access to over 1 million books of all kinds. You get a 30-day free trial, after which it’s $9.99 per month.
Interested in audio books? Audible offers a 30-day free trial as well; the monthly fee after that is $14.95.
Another book lover’s site is BookSweeps, which offers an array of self-published and indie ebooks, giveaways, and contests. They have every genre of literature, for every age group: romance, suspense, sci-fi, inspirational, regular fiction, nonfiction, and young adults, just to name a few. Caveat emptor: I do not guarantee the quality of the books. I’ve downloaded a couple of doozies that I couldn’t even finish, they were so bad.
I found a terrific, free website called Storyline Online, which provides video readings of gorgeously illustrated children’s books. They’re read by actors and other entertainers (Oprah Winfrey, unsurprisingly, is one of them), and even politicians such as Al Gore!
You can watch the videos on three different platforms: SchoolTube, YouTube, and Vimeo. The videos are well-produced and feature background music and some animation. And of course, you get to see each page with its illustration! Check it out for your kids.
One of my favorite kids’ books when my children were growing up was When Pigasso Met Mootisse, by Nina Laden. Here’s the video of the book being read by Eric Close. You will flip out with the incredible pictures and clever prose.
Let the games begin
How about ordering a classic word game? Good, old-fashioned games can keep everyone busy for hours. Plus, family game times build some of the strongest childhood memories.
Rummikub continues to be a favorite of mine as well. I remember playing it as a child and teenager, and much later, my kids and I played it frequently as they were growing up.
My favorite podcast
Podcasts are my new favorite thing. I listen to them when I’m cooking, cleaning, and walking without my partner. I cannot recommend Jonathan Goldstein’s Heavyweight podcast enough. In a nutshell, Jonathan helps people revisit watershed moments in their lives with regard to which they still have unfinished business (heavy weights).
Jonathan Goldstein was one of the original hosts of NPR’s This American Life radio show/podcast, and he’s now hosting shows for Gimlet Media. I find Heavyweight fascinating, hilarious, and poignant all at the same time.
There are some curse words in many of the podcasts.
Check out the archives (The new season begins in the Fall, all being well). There are enough of them to see you through the pandemic.
I hope these ideas will help you fill the time at home with enjoyable and substantive activities.
Do you have any other suggestions for enjoyable, educational, and/or meaningful activities? Please share them in the comments, below!
Hang tough, and