Book Corner: Reading, Watching, and Learning From Home

“We read to know we are not alone.” This quote is often attributed to C.S. Lewis, but was, in fact, written for C.S. Lewis’ character in “Shadowlands,” a play by William Nicholson. Regardless of who said it, that phrase has never rung more true. In this new age of social distancing, reading is more important than ever to connect us to the world at large.

Thankfully, we also live in an age of digital connectedness, where many of us are fortunate to access a world of knowledge and entertainment in the palms of our hands.

So, while we can’t drop by the library to pick up a stack of books and DVDs, we can still feast on a surfeit of literature, films, and online learning, more than we could ever consume in a lifetime.

Take digital magazines, for example. Through RBdigital, you can subscribe to top magazines, such as The Economist for those in the know, BirdWatching for hobbyists, and Discover for the scientifically minded, along with cooking, lifestyle and entertainment rags. There is no wait, and new issues are automatically delivered to your device, and you can read back issues, too.

For visual entertainment and edification, try Kanopy streaming video, with thousands of acclaimed feature films, documentaries, and online learning such as The Great Courses, which are college-level courses taught by actual professors. You can keep up the lifelong learning at home with Lynda.com and Universal Class, which offer classes in a wide range of topics, including management, accounting, graphic design, parenting and hobbies.

Since we’re supposed to be discussing books here, let’s get to it. Our biggest eBook and eAudiobook platform is OverDrive. There are thousands of books to choose from on all topics for all ages, and new items are constantly being added. If you need a new read ASAP, you can narrow your search to only those that are available now.

Here are a few suggested titles and tips:

Emma by Jane Austen
You can find many classic eBooks and eAudio through OverDrive with no waiting; simply click on “Always Available” under Collections. The newest movie version of this Austen favorite might inspire you to reread (or read for the first time) the misadventures of Emma, a young lady who has more faith in her matchmaking abilities than perhaps she should.


The Outsider by Stephen King
While social distancing, you may find yourself knitting, cleaning out the garage or staring into space. While keeping your hands busy (or not), keep your mind occupied with a digital audiobook such as “The Outsider,” narrated by Will Patton. This nail-biter features an unspeakable crime pointing to Terry Maitland, a popular Little League coach and English teacher in the town of Flint City. The evidence is unmistakable, yet as the investigation expands, terrifying details emerge.


Octavia E. Butler's Kindred by Octavia E. Butler and John Jennings
EBooks are a great way to absorb the exquisite art of graphic novels, such as Kindred, considered an essential work in the feminist, science fiction and fantasy genres. Butler’s critically acclaimed novel spans racial and gender divides between the antebellum South and the 20th century, telling the story of a young black woman who is suddenly transported from her home in 1970s California to a pre-Civil War southern plantation.


Funny, You Don't Look Autistic by Michael McCreary
This is OverDrive’s Big Library Read pick until April 13, with no waiting for the eBook or eAudio. Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age 5, McCreary got hit with the performance bug not much later. During a difficult time in junior high, he started journaling, eventually turning his pain into something empowering—and funny. He scored his first stand-up gig at age 14 and hasn’t looked back. An engaging read for teens and adults alike.


The Pretty Dish by Jessica Merchant
One way to stave off boredom: experiment in the kitchen (or on yourself). How Sweet Eats blogger Merchant brings recipes, party ideas and menus, killer playlists and inventive beauty projects to your eReader. Even if you’re going it alone, your creations will make for some great Instagram pics.


Visit librarypoint.org to get started with digital books, magazines, video and distance learning, and for help with digital resources. If you don’t have a library card, apply online and we’ll mail it to you. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for live book chats and libraryland updates.


Tracy McPeck is Adult Services Coordinator for Central Rappahannock Regional Library. This column first appeared in the Free Lance-Star newspaper.