Experts say that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is going to last a while. It could be at least a year or two until vaccines come out to combat it and "life returns to normal." Many activities that we use to do are no longer a safe option as they are not social distancing friendly. What better time then to catch up on the time-honored tradition of reading?
Dusting off your bookshelf might be a good option for entertainment. If you don't have many books, a lot of resources are available to help you discover new ones and to even access them for free.
A couple of years ago, Amazon acquired the social reading site Good Reads. The community features many book lovers and authors, contests, and giveaways. Book reviewers are published online for anyone in the user community to access. As a user, you can create a catalogue of books you have read and rate them. Based on your ratings, you can find other books that might be similar which you could enjoy. Many publishers, including Reading Harbor, have used Good Read's giveaway service to promote new book launches by giving out free copies. As a reader, the cost to join is free!
Another social reading site that boasts over 2 million members is Library Thing. The online service is also free to join and allows users to similarly catalogue books they have read. You can list the books you have from Amazon, the Library of Congress, or other public libraries. The site is so popular that it is offered in multiple languages for users around the world.
Once you have decided what to read, you can get a copy easily in a safe way without having to ever leave the comforts of your home.
Overdrive offers an app called Libby, which can be accessed via your Web Browser, iPhone App Store, or Google Play. The service allows anyone with a library card to access millions of electronic titles for free. If you don't have a library card, the app even helps you find a local library to apply for one. Books usually have limited availability and require checkout per library. Popular titles tend to go fast, so its best to get in there early.
Project Gutenburg is also a great way to access a catalogue of over 60,000 titles. The formats available are usually in epub or Kindle. You can download them or read them online through your browser. Volunteers have gone and digitized some of the world's greatest literature. The main publications are from older works for which the U.S. copyright has expired (prior to 1924).
If your preference is to read newer titles, you can even access books that are in advanced reader copy stage, meaning they have not yet been officially published. There are a couple of ways to do this. One of the most popular is to join the service, Net Galley, as a beta reader. Net Galley allows registered users to read books before they are officially released. Many publishing companies choose to feature their books on the site in order to get advanced feedback on what readers think about their books. This gives publishing companies time to edit their work and also garner reviews prior to launch day.
Amazon also offers many books for its Prime members and Kindle Unlimited members to access. However to gain Prime or Kindle Unlimited access, there is a subscription fee. This fee can sometimes be reduced if you are a student or are looking for just a short-term trial. As a Prime member, you can read for free a new book every month. As a Kindle Unlimited member, there are thousands of titles that you can read at any time. Occasionally on Amazon itself, some authors and publishers will choose to release their books for free to the general public in order to drum up reviews or to try to build a customer base.
Finding entertainment in the form of books during the pandemic can be an easy exercise. So many services exist for just this in mind. For the next two years, its the perfect opportunity to catch up on or curl up with a new book!