Need a pandemic pick-me-up? Find it in a book: Judi Wolf

Guest columnist Judi Wolf is an avid longtime reader, retired educator in the field of literacy and technology, and member of NCJW/CLE.

Living through a pandemic has not been without available diversions, including the ability to stream movies, increase exercise time or learn new skills like knitting or baking bread.

Personally, I have endured a self-imposed lockdown by reading or listening to stories others have written. I can vicariously travel to far-off places; find myself engrossed in the lives of characters who lived many years ago; relate to the lives of other cultures, religions and races; or experience the true story of adventure, war-torn misery or the life of a well-known person in a memoir.

As an avid longtime reader, retired educator in the field of literacy and technology, and facilitator of a recent well-attended National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland (NCJW/CLE) webinar on how to find book recommendations, friends and colleagues are constantly asking me how to find new books and widen the realm of their reading experiences.

Here are my top four suggestions on how to find the right written tale.

Find out what others are reading and recommending

On Facebook and Instagram, you can join groups such as Great Thoughts -Great Readers and Friends and Fiction. In groups like these, I find book reviews, recommendations to add to my own “To Be Read” list and gain an awareness of the newest publications.

I also make sure to “follow” my favorite authors to see what they’re reading.

Listening to podcasts, such as The New York Times Book Review Podcast, Just The Right Book Podcast, What Should I Read Next Podcast and The Book Reporter Podcast, is another way you can become enlightened and excited about books that others have enjoyed.

There are also emails loaded with information about books that can come right to your inbox, for example Modern Mrs, Darcy and The Book Reporter.

Join a book club

It may be a neighborhood book club or one that meets at a local library. During the pandemic, there are many virtual book club meetings, including one for members of NCJW/CLE.

Book clubs are a great way to get introduced to new authors and voices (and also think deeper about the book!)

Look to your favorite authors

Have a favorite author? There’s a good chance you’ll like his/her other writings then! Search for the author’s website and find the “backlist” of other books this author has written.

You’ll also find that notable authors are doing more and more virtual events. NCJW/CLE, in partnership with the Mandel JCC Book Fair, for example, is bringing Bess Kalb, the author of “Nobody Will Tell You This But Me,” to the Cleveland community via Zoom on Feb. 4. (Register here!) Attendees will have a chance to ask the author questions — and maybe even inquire about her favorite must-reads.

Browse reduced-price book sales and Little Free Libraries

Books can be found unexpectedly! You can find great titles you might never have come across by browsing through book sales or seeing what books other people have donated.

Abebooks.Com is an online gold-mine of savings for book buyers and sellers. Little Free Libraries — where people donate used books — are also popping up everywhere. Try to find one in your neighborhood. Books are there for you to borrow, and it is a great place to leave a book that you have read. Check out The Little Library Locator for Northeast Ohio.

Above all, I urge you to try one new book in the new year!

“Wherever I am, if I’ve got a book with me, I have a place I can go and be happy.” — J.K. Rowling

Readers are invited to submit Opinion page essays on topics of regional or general interest. Send your 500-word essay for consideration to Ann Norman at [email protected]. Essays must include a brief bio and headshot of the writer. Essays rebutting today’s topics are also welcome.

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