A Novel Idea: Stay In and Read, Watch, and Listen

Let’s focus on the positive: All this indoors time has allowed us to catch up on our reading. And regardless of whether we are still social distancing, we hope that you’ll keep reading. Here are some of our top picks for all things literary this season.

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Quick Reading Recs

If you want to…

Keep your business skills sharp:



Want to be more successful in business? It’s all about communicating well with others. This book will teach you how to create rapport with clients and customers to make them loyal to your product or service.

Get lost in a new series:


If you like a good mystery, try this series set in the early 1900s in New York. Ladies’ maid Jane Prescott quickly learns that tensions run rampant in the upper crust of society. Start with this first one, and you’ll soon want to read the other two novels that follow.

Have a good laugh:


We all need a good laugh, and Samantha Irby’s new book of spit-take essays will likely do the trick. From dealing with home improvements to navigating meal prep with mason jar salads, you’ll relate with each LOL.

Support Local Bookstores

If browsing the aisles of your favorite bookstore isn’t an option, you can still keep your bookshelf or tablet full from the safety of your home. Here are some ways to support your local independent booksellers that are likely struggling during this time.


This audiobook app lets you choose your favorite independent bookstores to support with your monthly membership. Every time you choose a book, that bookstore gets a cut. The monthly fee is comparable to that of Audible, plus you get three for the price of one ($14.99) when you use the code SWITCH at checkout.


Indulge in some online retail therapy and fill your bookshelf at Bookshop.org. Every book you buy supports independent bookstores.


Bookstores will be open again. And when they are, author readings and events will resume. Be sure to check out this site (co-run by yours truly), which features a calendar of events happening at independent bookstores across the cou

Literary Podcasts

Pop the earbuds in and escape for a bit with a bookish podcast. Here are some of our favorites.

“What Should I Read Next?”

Every reader has asked this question. Each week, hostAnne Bogel has an answer.

“All the Books” and “Book Riot: The Podcast”

BookRiot.com is an avid reader’s stomping ground for his or her next favorite book. It also offers two weekly podcasts: “Book Riot – The Podcast,” a news and talk show that keeps listeners up to speed in the literary world, and “All the Books,” which focuses on new releases.

“The Librarian Is In”

This podcast from New York Public Library features co-hosts Frank Collerius and Gwen Glazer and their take on books and culture.

“Reading Glasses”

Overwhelmed by your to-be-read pile? Wondering how to organize your bookshelf? Co-hosts Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara offer practical tips for making the most out of the time you spend reading.


Do you have books on your shelf you’ve been meaning to read forever? So do co-hosts Andrew and Craig. Their weekly podcast takes a trip through their shelf of overdue books that features a little bit of everything.

Spotlight On



St. Martin’s Essentials

You matter: Two words that give us monumental hope in the time of crises. And boy, have times been rough. If you need a reminder of why you are a valuable gift in the world, read Emerzian’s book.

Divided into three parts—I Matter, You Matter, and We Matter—the author takes us through exercises and journal prompts that help us see the power in community and how we contribute to that power.

Emerzian is the founder of Every Monday Matters, a not-for-profit organization that helps communicate compassion and the importance of self-worth throughout the world.

Matthew Emerzian ON LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

“I believe we have been experiencing a crisis even before the virus changed life as we know it. We have created a human crisis. The way we have been treating one another, ourselves, and our planet has not been our best work. If anything, COVID-19 has helped us to become better people already. It has right-sized us, as we now live in fear of something so small that we can’t even see it, yet it has the power to take our life. It has enheartened us as we mourn the tragic loss of lives. It has thankfully helped us redefine what really matters most. It has allowed us to slow down. It has humbled our attachment to materialism and greed. It has allowed us to see our neighbors, even if by a wave from our porches or singing together from our balconies. Miraculously, it has even made us much nicer online and on social media. Now we just need to embrace and hold onto this new better version of ourselves, as it’s better for everything and everyone.”



Inspired Girl Books

If you’ve ever been told, “You’ve got no business doing that,” then Jessica Varian Carroll’s book will give you permission to make it your business to do whatever it is you set your mind to. This memoir tells the story of how this single mom of four children rose up to become a successful entrepreneur (she’s the founder of Organista Home, an award-winning professional organization service) and inspires others to do the same.

Jessica’s story of hard work and determination will encourage readers to celebrate the little successes on their way to their own goals. “We’re so focused on the next step that we don’t bask in the good things that we’ve done,” Jessica says.

Jessica is also the co-founder of the biannual SOAR (Seize Opportunity and Rise) symposium, which gathers women to share with and learn from each others’ unique gifts. “Women need women,” Jessica says. “We desperately need each other more than we know.”

Netflix And (Try To) Chill

We know you’re probably already squeezing every second out of your streaming services these days. If you need some more recommendations, consider some of these book adaptations that are on or coming to Netflix this year. They’ve all got riveting plots that will keep you out of your own head for a bit.


You only think you know this creature of the night. Told in three movie-length episodes, this innovative series starring Claes Bang offers quite a new take on our old fanged friend created by Bram Stoker.

“The Last Thing He Wanted”

In this adaptation of the Joan Didion novel of the same name, Anne Hathaway stars as a reporter investigating an international arms deal when she discovers her own father (Willem Dafoe) is involved. As she digs deeper, a US government agent played by Ben Affleck is hot on her trail.


Based on Deborah Feldman’s memoir, “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots,” the series portrays Deborah’s escape from an arranged marriage in her highly traditional Jewish community in New York for a new life in Berlin.

By: Barbara Bellesi Zito


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