#BooksForward reading challenge celebrates how books provide connection, even with social distancing

Reading is one of the most powerful tools for connection and comfort. Let’s make meaningful virtual connections and share our love for literature during this isolating time.

Before settling in for another Netflix binge or anxiety-inducing scroll through your newsfeed, consider that self-quarantine can be an opportunity to catch up on the books you’ve missed. Good reads simultaneously relax and stimulate our brains, entertain us and connect us through shared recommendations, and take us to far away places. In our #BooksForward Reading Challenge, we invite you to read, discuss, and share new books with us and other readers. It’s the perfect way to connect, even when practicing social distancing. Choose books (any books!!) that pertain to the suggested themes, then join us on social media to share and discuss!

Each week, Books Forward will be giving away ebooks to our reader friends. Enter by using the #BooksForward hashtag on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with your reading choices. One reader who completes the challenge will win a $100 gift card to your indie bookstore of choice.

If you’re new to ebooks and audiobooks, and need some help learning how to download reading material, visit booksforward.com/helpline for tips and more book recommendations. We’ll teach you how to use your library’s app and still order books in a way that supports independent bookstores, along with other ebook and audiobook app information.

Need inspiration on what to read? Below are some potential themes, along with recommendations from our incredible roster of Books Forward authors, and head over to our Books Forward Instagram (instagram.com/booksforwardpr) to discuss more!

A how-to book that teaches you something you’ve wanted to learn
Ever wanted to learn next-level origami, the secrets of time-management gurus or how to build that studio space you’ve been dreaming about? Now is your chance to learn something new!

  1. Get inspired and create your perfect work-from-home space with Donald M. Rattner’s My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation.
  2. Embrace the indoor lifestyle with this hilarious handbook full of tips and tricks to help you thrive at home in self-quarantine with John Driver’s The Ultimate Guide for the Avid Indoorsman: Life is Better in Here, and be sure to take the accompanying Indooreagram Quiz!
  3. Learn how to cook restaurant-worthy meals from your stockpiled staples using this tongue-in-cheek cookbook based on AMC’s hit TV series, The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide by Lauren Wilson.

A book set in a futuristic society
Literature can sometimes predict the future. To be well-read is to be prepared.

  1. Ponder author Pat Mckee’s question of if artificial intelligence can learn morality in his exciting new legal techno-thriller Ariel’s Island.
  2. Examine the dangers of data mining and the dark side of surveillance in Michael C. Bland’s thrilling sci-fi title The Price of Safety, an eerie depiction of the not-too-far future that reveals humanity’s dependence on both technology and family.
  3. Follow Lieutenant Sandy Attiyeh as she returns from being either a celebrated hero or war criminal, depending on who you ask in Sayde Scarlett’s near-future sci-fi read Clouds & Earth

A book from a genre you don’t typically read
Don’t remember the last time you’ve picked up a memoir, high fantasy or horror novel? Time to give a new or unfamiliar genre a test drive. 

  1. Meet the secret society of high-end escorts and the men who hire them in Jami Rodman’s delicious tell-all memoir, The Las Vegas Madam: The Escorts, the Clients, the Truth.
  2. Get swept away by a YA fantasy series about a teen girl who stumbles into a school for those who possess powerful magic — and who are threatened by a dark force — in D.E. Night’s The Crowns of Croswald.
  3. Get sucked into this vivid first-person narrative as Special Operations Joint Terminal Attack Controller Wes J. Bryant and his commanding general Dana J.H. Pittard give fascinating and detailed accounts of America’s fight against ISIS in Hunting the Caliphate.

A book about an interesting time in history
Whether it’s a romance novel set during France’s Reign of Terror, the biography that inspired the musical Hamilton or a nonfiction profile of America’s first serial killer during the Chicago World’s Fair, let’s get historical. 

  1. Get a shudder-inducing (and surprisingly relevant) look at how our ancestors bathed, how often they washed their clothes, what they understood cleanliness to be, and why our hygienic habits have changed so dramatically over time in professor Peter Ward’s  The Clean Body: A Modern History.
  2. Discover how the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference, Perry Wallace, transformed the game — as well as civil rights and race relations in America — in the New York Times bestselling nonfiction Strong Inside.
  3. Take a deep dive into WWII history with bestselling author Samuel Marquis’ gripping, accurate historical fiction books, including his newest release Soldiers of Freedom.

A book that’s fun for the whole family
Children’s and middle grade books can be especially poignant, hilarious and fun. Find a book you’d want to share with the fam!

  1. Inspire young minds to build their own castles and change the damsel in distress narrative to one of self-reliance (with the power of science behind it) in Rachel Kowert’s Pragmatic Princess.
  2. Unravel mysteries and crack secret codes with two tween girls who start their own sleuthing business in Kristen Kittscher’s delightfully clever and funny middle grade duo, The Wig in the Window and The Tiara on Terrace.
  3. Learn what school kids have to say about their experiences living in a big city in Katie Burke’s family-focused Urban Playground, which includes conversation-starting questions to ask your own kids like “If you could have one lucky weekend with a parent, what would you want to do together?” or “If you made your own salad, what would you put in it?”⁣⁣

A book that’s been recommended to you
Remember that book your best friend, co-worker or great aunt wouldn’t stop talking about? Time to see what the buzz is about! May we also suggest:

  1. Discover the shockingly true story of a young woman who must fight for her independence and her dreams after discovering her family secretly covered up her mother’s death in Barbara Donsky’s poignant memoir, Veronica’s Grave: A Daughter’s Memoir.
  2. Dive into Tori Eldridge’s The Ninja Daughter, a Kill Bill meets The Joy Luck Club action-packed thriller about a woman who must fight the Los Angeles Ukrainian mob, sex traffickers and her own family.
  3. Giggle your way through Suzanne Park’s The Perfect Escape, as a budding teen romance begins in a zombie-themed escape room. The delightful #ownvoices YA rom-com is also a thoughtful exploration of diversity and classism.

A book about self-improvement, health and/or wellness
Keeping ourselves and our communities healthy is at the top of everyone’s minds. Books can help us learn something new about ourselves, our mental health, our emotional well-being, our fitness and how to improve our health.

  1. Be kind to your neighbors and communities, especially in times such as these. Donna Cameron inspires and shows us the impact kindness can have in her award-winning A Year of Living Kindly.
  2. Take some spare time you have at home in the coming weeks to practice self-care and break unhealthy work addiction habits, with Bryan Robinson’s #CHILL.
  3. Prepare for extra “togetherness” with David and Julie Bulitt’s The Five Core Conversations for Couples. The married couple of 33 years (a divorce and family lawyer, and a family therapist), offer a unique expertise on how to keep family relationships healthy, especially through times of uncertainty.

A book that’s been adapted for film or TV
Check out a book that’s been made into a movie. Then grab some popcorn and watch how the big screen adaptation lives up to its literary roots! 

  1. Fragments features an all-star cast of celebs like Forest Whitaker and Dakota Fanning — but did you know it was adapted from Roy Freirich’s first novel, Winged Creatures? We wonder if his most recent psychological thriller that unravels a small town stricken by mass insomnia, Deprivation, might be seeing Hollywood stars as well?
  2. Mark Wahlberg is set to bring Eric Maikranz’s The Reincarnationist Papers to life in Paramount’s upcoming Infinite. You’ll get a glimpse of the Cognomina — a secret society of people who possess total recall of their past lives, leading to near immortality.
  3. While you’ll have to wait a bit to see the TV version, prepare for the Wreckage of two seemingly brave plane crash survivors who happen to be keeping the true story a secret, written by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Emily Bleeker.

And if you’re a fast and eager reader, may we offer these additional themes for inspiration:

  • A bestseller you’ve been meaning to read. What chart-topper has been sitting on your to-read list? Time to dive in!
  • A book you loved when you were younger. Dust off one of your favorite books from when you were a kid, teen or younger adult. How does it read now?
  • A book that is a guilty pleasure. We all have them: those books that you know won’t impress your “literary” friends, but that you can’t. Stop. READING. C’mon, let’s dish.
  • A book you started but never finished. Maybe you got busy. Maybe your reading list got too long. Maybe Netflix released the next season of Stranger Things. Whatever the reason, it’s time for a second crack at an unfinished read.

We can’t wait to hear what you pick to read!

And check out our tips for book clubs going virtual if you’d like to discuss with your book club buddies and bring an author in as well.