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We sent the May print edition of The Christian Chronicle…
Book club is canceled. Libraries are shut down. Perusing bookstores is out of the picture. But you finally have all the time in the world to read. How will you get your hands on a good book?
The answer: digitally.
There are so many instant options at your fingertips. Let’s explore the world of audiobooks and eBooks.
If you haven’t jumped into an audiobook yet, now’s the time. My favorite way to consume them is through the free library app, OverDrive.
Search your app store for OverDrive or Libby by OverDrive. They are essentially the same, just user preference. Then download the app, and sign in using your library card information.
Don’t have a library card? Most libraries will allow you to apply for a card online during this pandemic.
Once you are logged in to the app, you can search genres, read book summaries and reviews, and download almost any book you want. Users will have 7-14 days to listen before the title is removed from your device and passed on the next reader.
Another option is Audible, Amazon’s audiobook subscription service. With more than 400,000 titles, this app is the most popular in the U.S. and after a free 30 day trial, will cost you around $15 a month. That gets users one free credit a month for any book regardless of price and 30% off additional titles. If you want to skip the monthly fee, you can purchase books individually at a higher price.You can return any audiobook purchased in the last 12 months and get your credit back. Audible is allowing children to listen for free while school is on pause.
Live outside the states? Look into Google Play Books, which is available in 45 countries. No subscription is required, and audiobooks are purchased individually at shelf price. Once you make a purchase, these books cannot be returned.
Each app has its pros and cons, but all will bring your stories to life. Busy hands make listening ears, so grab a coloring book, clean out the garage (hey, you’ve got the time!) or go for a walk while you listen.
Do you prefer to sit and read but aren’t able to get your hands on a physical copy of a book? While you can read eBooks on OverDrive or Google Play Books, the most popular option is probably Amazon Kindle.
This app is similar to Audible in that you can choose to pay $10 a month to receive a free credit or purchase books at a discount. If you don’t want to pay monthly, you can purchase books at shelf price or download library books from your library’s website or your OverDrive app to be read on your Kindle device or in the Kindle app.
But why would you want to download a book from one app into another? Kindle lets you customize text size, font type, whether you turn pages from left to right or scroll continuously and even allows you to look up words, people and places as you read. This app is currently offering its subscription service free for the next two months.
Above all else, use your Bible or device to stay connected to God’s word. Spend time reading or listening to Scripture. Complete a reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app. Memorize Psalm 91 — anything to ground you during this pandemic.
After you’ve set the tone for your day, don’t waste your brain cells scrolling mindlessly on Facebook or Twitter. Virtually check out one of these books.
Are you looking for inspiration or self-help? We’ve got something for you.
• “Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad” by John Eldridge.
The practice of building a calm interior life — not an anxious presence — is what we need now and in the days ahead, according to Lantz Howard, discipleship minister for the Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison, Texas. This book offers practical ways to improve your thoughts. Howard also recommends downloading the “Pause” app as a companion to this book.
• “Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon.” David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock.
“This takes a sobering look at where the younger generations in the church are trending,” said Jay Mack, campus minister for the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. “It doesn’t look good, yet this book offers encouragement for raising the next generation to know and love God.” In a world that is completely online now, this offers helpful insight for church leaders.
“This book challenges us to come up for air in a culture that operates at a chaotic pace,” Mack said. “That air we are encouraged to breathe is the very breath of God that maintains and satisfies our souls.”
• “Double Blessing: How to Get It. How to Give It” by Mark Batterson.
“This book is encouraging and allows you to see the blessings you have and turn them around to bless others,” said Karlie Scharrer, children’s minister for my congregation, the Heritage Church of Christ in Edmond, Okla. “The double blessing might not be immediate but could impact people many years from now.”
Remember long ago when families would sit and listen to radio programs at night?
Let’s recreate moments long lost with one of these family-friendly audiobooks.
Both of these books are written by Christian men, so the content is for everyone.
• “The Green Ember” by S.D. Smith.
“An adventurous story following a brother and sister rabbit through sudden adversity and watching them overcome the darkness with light,” said Cassie Henley, a friend of mine in Dallas who’s an avid reader — and a homeschooling mother of six.
There are three more books in this series, so there is plenty to listen to while we are stuck inside. This is a fun read-aloud and is good for all ages, Henley said.
• “On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga)” by Andrew Peterson.
Henley said this is a bright light among books — one of her kid’s favorite fantasy series. It is clever, funny and full of adventure. The author is offering this as a read-aloud on his Facebook channel during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are four books in this series.
Are you suddenly homeschooling? Do you need some structure of just a minute of peace, but don’t want to sit your kids in front of a TV? Try one of these classic options for free on Audible.
• “Winnie-the-Pooh: A.A. Milne’s Pooh Classics, Volume 1” by A.A. Milne.
“If you have never heard A.A. Milne read aloud, start here,” Henley said. This is the only reading of these immortal stories authorized by A.A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin, who wrote, “If you want to meet the real Pooh, the bear I knew, the bear my father wrote about, listen to Peter,” according to Audible’s summary.
• “Timeless Tales of Beatrix Potter: Peter Rabbit and Friends” by Beatrix Potter.
Beatrix Potter makes the perfect bedtime stories, said Henley. From the book: “This amazing universe of animals dressed in human clothing has taught and entertained children for over a century. Although each story stands on its own, several are linked together by events and characters.”
• “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
This timeless tale is for children who are a little older. Audible’s synopsis: “Through a series of hilarious misadventures, Anne’s uncompromising spirit makes her a striking presence in her close-knit village, bringing new friendships, first crushes, and, for her foster parents, a love and openness unimaginable before her arrival.” This title is perfect for tween girls on the verge of growing up.
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