#51: Reading and Book Recommendations during Coronavirus

This is a slight diversion from the usual episode, but I know a lot of you are bookworms, like me. However, you might be finding it hard to read right now because you’re too stressed. Or you don’t want to read the same type of books. Or you’re having trouble getting books because you always relied on your local library, which is now shut down. So, I’m going to talk about all these things today, while also giving some book recommendations.

I’m also going to talk about some non-fiction business books that have really helped me and my freelance business over the years. If you want to skip to just the business book recommendations, fast-forward to 29:00.

I was in a bit of a book slump when the pandemic hit, so after reading one good book, I struggled to figure out what to read next. And while many of us might be struggling to read at times, turns out we’re buying a lot of books online.

Let’s first talk about how you can access or buy books right now. First, audiobooks. The obvious place to start is Audible, which is Amazon’s audiobookstore. Audible offers the first month free for you to try it out. But I know many of you are anti-Amazon and would prefer to give your money to someone else.

So, you might want to instead try Libro.FM, which allows you to buy audiobooks directly through your favorite independent bookstore. You can choose to buy audiobooks whenever you want or you can sign up for a monthly membership for about $15 a month. That gives you one audiobook a month, plus 30% off additional audiobooks. Libro’s profits are split with the indie bookstore of your choice.

Get audiobooks from your local library through an app called Overdrive or an app called Libby, which is also by Overdrive.

Now, let’s talk about buying books. Twitter pointed me to Better World Books, which is an online used bookstore that, turns out, is based in my home state of Indiana. Every time you buy a book, Better World Books donates a book to someone.

The company also collects discarded books from libraries. Libraries need to get rid of books to make room for new ones, and sometimes these books end up in the landfills. But Better World Books takes in all those books, sells what they can and then donates a lot of them. And only then do they get rid of the rest—by recycling them.

Better World Books right now is offering 20% off with free shipping if you have buy at least two books. I bought five books on my TBR list for $40 total.

Another used book option is Half Price Books, which is a brick-and-mortar chain that sells mostly used books but also some new books. I bought four books from Half Price online as gifts for my parents. The store charged me for shipping for each book, which seemed strange even if it still wasn’t that expensive. But I soon realized it was because each book was pulled from whichever store had it in stock and shipped from that store.

Next up, let’s support independent bookstores. I chose to buy two new books directly from Wild Geese Bookshop in my college town, Franklin, Indiana.

Wild Geese is only a few years old. It opened in the fall of 2016. I heard about it through friends, and my mom and I checked it out a few years ago and instantly fell in love with this tiny, perfectly curated shop.

Another way I could have bought from Wild Geese Bookshop or other indie bookstores is through a new website called Bookshop. At Bookshop.org you can buy books all in one spot but choose which independent bookstore the sale will benefit.

Here’s how Bookshop works: Independent bookstores place affiliate links on their own websites, social media, e-newsletters, etc. For every book sold through that link, that bookstore receives 25% commission.

Another way to find a good independent bookstore is through Indiebound.org, which also has the Indie Next List, a fun list of book recommendations from indie booksellers.

Next up, my favorite book podcasts. My absolute favorite is What Should I Read Next by Anne Bogel, in which Anne asks a guest to talk about three books they love and one book they hate and what they would like to be different in their reading life. Then, she recommends three books to them on the spot.

Other book podcasts that are new to me:

All the Books! by Book Riot

Currently Reading

From the Front Porch

And check out my friends at Writer’s Bone, where they interview authors about writing and their books.

Book talks: A lot of book talks have now gone online, so it doesn’t matter where you live. Here in DC, Politics and Prose was known for having an author talk in the store every single night. Now, those talks are being streamed online. Other stores are doing the same. You can also check in with your favorite authors’ websites and social media accounts to see what they’re up to and where they might be streaming next.

Anne Bogel did a Stay at Home Book Tour with several authors over the past few weeks via Zoom. All of these were recorded and you can watch them at your leisure.

Book recommendations:

The Splendid and the Vile,” by Erik Larson

The Glass Hotel,” by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel

The Resisters,” by Gish Jen

The Red Lotus,” by Chris Bohjalian

Still Life,” book 1 in the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny

The Widows of Malabar Hill” (book 1), by Sujata Massey

The Satapur Moonstone (book 2), by Sujata Massey

Murder on the Orient Express,” by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None,” by Agatha Christie

Evvie Drake Starts Over,” by Linda Holmes

Daisy Jones & the Six,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Most Likely,” by Sarah Watson

The Freelance Content Marketing Writer,” by Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Atomic Habits,” by James Clear

Make Time,” by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky

Deep Work,” by Cal Newport

Digital Minimalism,” by Cal Newport

Biz Bite: Take Your Office Outside


Book recommendations are all linked above.

“Book sales surge as self-isolating readers stock up on ‘bucket list’ novels”

“Books Are My Secret For Fighting Coronavirus Anxiety”

Overdrive vs. Libby: Which Will Serve You Best?

“How to Get Books When Bookstores and Libraries Are Closed”

Episode #4 of Deliberate Freelancer: Work Only with Nice Clients, with Jennifer Goforth Gregory





Better World Books

Half Price Books

Politics and Prose (DC)

Kramerbooks (DC)

Loyalty Books (DC)

The Strand (New York City)

Powell’s City of Books (Portland, Oregon)

Wild Geese Bookshop (Franklin, Indiana)



What Should I Read Next? podcast

All the Books! podcast by Book Riot

Currently Reading podcast

From the Front Porch podcast

Writer’s Bone podcast

Stay at Home Book Tour

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is listen-on-apple-podcasts-badge-300x77.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is android.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Stitcher_Listen_Badge_Big.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Spotify_Logo_RGB_Green.png

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *