April is Citizen Science month, and this year April is also a month of social distancing and isolation. However, just because you’re home doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to ongoing scientific research.
You, yes YOU, can be actively engaged in real scientific research without even leaving your house. So, consider pausing your book/movie/TV/game binge for a short time to take part in a project seeking the help of regular citizens like you.
Projects available for a variety of ages, interests, and skill levels can be found at SciStarter.org, just click onProject Finder to see what projects are currently available. Even with little to no prior knowledge, citizen scientists engage in real data collection, data analysis, and other steps of the scientific process.
I had fun helping scientists by reviewing images of galaxies in the AstroQuest project, and classifying animals in photos for the Snapshot Safari project. Take a look at the projects and see if there’s one that appeals to you!
Just because April is Citizen Science Month there’s no reason to stop being a scientist after that. Check out these books to learn more about being engaged as a citizen scientist:
Whether it’s sweeping the grass for ladybugs, counting woodpeckers, or listening to frogs, there are a variety of ways even young people can get involved in science by just going outside. Full of beautiful photographs and easy at home research projects, this book is a great way to introduce children to, and actively engage them in, real scientific research.
For teens and adults, find here everything you need to contribute to breakthroughs in things like climate change, Alzheimer’s disease, endangered species, and more. In this book alone, there are 50 project options to match citizen scientists with their own personal interests and time constraints.
If you are an extrovert, being quarantined is a tragic turn of events. You need people to thrive! How can introverts be with themselves all day without going crazy? As an ambivert, I can relate to the need to interact with people, but I can also handle being alone for long stretches of time. So, I’ve compiled a list of resources for those extroverts out there who are going crazy.
There are many online resources that can help you learn something new. A good place to go is our LET’S LEARN GUIDES. There are several different guides that you can explore. Including: Coding, painting, birding, and playing guitar. These guides can direct you to other resources to expand your skills and they have different activity ideas to keep you occupied for hours. Additional resources include: LYNDA.COM, CREATIVEBUG, and HOBBIES AND CRAFTS REFERENCE CENTER.
If you’re tired of your regular streaming service, then try KANOPY. This free service allows you a limited number of credits each month and widens your watching possibilities. Not only does it have modern movies and shows, but it also has some exercise videos, documentaries, and even programs for kids. WARNING: Our KANOPY subscription will expire in the summer, so get watching now!
While everyone is stuck at home, our children’s librarians have been putting together boredom busters! These are 5-10 minute videos on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE that teach a craft or skill. These are great for learning something new with limited screen time and resources.
If you are missing your friends and want to start filling up your social calendar again, try an online book club. You can see previous posts here about good book club practices. Additionally, we added this post on digital book clubs just a little while ago. The benefit of an online book club is that you can do activities and discussions with your friends, create new friends in the book characters, and satisfy your need for socializing without breaking any social distancing rules.
(Of course this is on the list. Did you think I’d forget?)
There are plenty of great books to read, characters to meet, and adventures to go on. Even if you can’t come physically to the library, you can get access our digital ebooks and audiobooks through OVERDRIVE, RB DIGITAL, and TUMBLEBOOKS. It’s important to note that we only have access to TUMBLEBOOKS until August, 2020. So get reading!
I have to be honest, recently I found myself in a predicament. This last year, I decided to read the Wheel of Time series for the first time. I was just about to read book four of fourteen but I found that I needed a little break. Of course I still had every plan in finishing (I need to have it all done by the time the Amazon Prime series comes out after all) but don’t we all need a change of pace now and then?
And I did take my break; I had a lot of fun doing it. But, to my horror, the book I used to take a breath from The Wheel of Time was also part of a different series. Now I was indebted to two book series at once. And, if I’m being honest with myself, I probably now have three or four to juggle. I didn’t think it through. The change of pace I was searching for turned into further commitment.
Lucky for all of you, I decided to spare you all this pain. When you need a change of pace, a momentary break in your great literary journey, do yourself a favor and read one of these excellent stand-alone books. You can thank me later.
This novel won the Locus Award for Best Fantasy and was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards. The book follows Maia, youngest and least-favored son of the Emperor of the Elflands and of mixed Elven and Goblin heritage, unexpectedly ascends to the throne after his father and half-brothers are killed in an airship crash. He now has no choice but to take the throne. Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody.
This novel, considered a masterpiece in storytelling, won both the Hugo and Nebula award and presents a woman traveling through time. Willis sets her book in a near in which historians conduct field work by traveling into the past as observers. The research is conducted at the University of Oxford, in mid-21st century England. In this book, the narration revolves around an influenza epidemic in 2054 and the Black Plague in 1348. Historian Kivrin is one historian who gets stuck back int time trying to learn and help her people.
Set in a fantasied Tang China and based on a fictionalized version of the An Shi Rebellion, Under Heaven follows Shen Tai, the second son of a renowned general of Kitai, as he is given, in recognition of his service to the Emperor of Kitai, a mysterious and dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses. Wisely the gift comes with the stipulation that the horses must be claimed in person. Otherwise, he would probably be dead already.
Anathem takes place on the fictional planet Arbre. It follows the account of Fraa Erasmas of the Concent of Saunt Edhar, who begins the tale as an unassuming avout trying to keep up with his studies, and by the end has traversed continents and seas, faced extraordinary dangers, met unexpected persons, and perhaps even saved the world as he knows it.
An unexplained catastrophe destroys part of a town, but twelve children survive. The survivors are "adopted" and raised by a powerful, god-like figure called Father. Together they live in "the Library", an extensive pyramid structured building filled with books cataloging all knowledge of the universe - past, present and future. Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation.
Given the sudden popularity of pandemic-themed movies on Netflix, the abundance of pandemic-themed news in real life, and the general post-apocalyptic feeling a lot of us are experiencing by practicing social distancing, I thought I’d compile my own list of books I’ve read and enjoyed that are close to this topic. While some may find this list of fiction hits a little too close to home right now, I thought all of these books carried an overall message of hope and endurance.
You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you snuggle up in a blanket, a hot drink in one hand, your loved ones close, and everything is right with the world? That is the feeling I get when I think about this book. Yes, it is about a flu pandemic that wipes out a significant percentage of people on Earth, but this book is beautiful. This excellently-written novel starts off with a pandemic that spreads practically overnight and effects most of the world’s population in about a two-week time period. The story follows five people who are connected by a simple twist of fate, jumping back and forth between their pre and post pandemic lives. But this book is less about the storyline and more about how it makes you feel—melancholic and hopeful at the same time. You’ll come away from this one with a deeper appreciate for the normal, everyday life we often take for granted. The result is a view of a post-apocalyptic world that is hopeful, at times scary, and very riveting.
Hig lives a fairly solitary life holed up in an abandoned airport after a pandemic killed most of the population. When he’s out on a flight one day, searching for provisions, Hig gets a radio signal; something he hasn’t heard in a very long time. His decision to follow the radio signal in search of life leads him to danger and hope, and he discovers inner strengths that he never knew he possessed. If you like this book, I highly recommend Heller’s latest novel, THE RIVER, which tells the story of two men caught in the path of an oncoming wildfire.
Of all the books on this list, this is the one that focuses most on the actions of people who are trying to survive a pandemic instead of on the people the pandemic leaves behind. When Harper Grayson, a pregnant nurse, discovers she’s caught a horrible new disease that generally leads its victims to death by spontaneous combustion, she’s determined to live long enough to deliver her baby. She turns to a mysterious man known as The Fireman for help and protection. This book is technically a horror novel, but it has a great sense of humor and light-heartedness to it as well.
Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are tentatively trying to rebuild their lives. Krista, Moira, Rob, and Sunny are all brought together by circumstance, but as they get to know each other, they all discover they’ve been running from their pasts. When a new pandemic looms, the group learns that it’s easier to survive when you have others you can turn to.
Not only is this my favorite book about a killer pandemic, this is probably my favorite book period. And I don’t even like zombie fiction! Years after a zombie virus terrorized the globe, a lone reporter travels the world to interview presidents, generals, CEOs, and housewives alike about their experiences during World War Z. This book is less about zombie gore, and more about how the world would react to a deadly pandemic. Brooks definitely did his homework for this one, and the book feels so real that you may often forget that it’s about zombies, and not about our current social affairs. But never fear! This book takes place after all the bad stuff, so it’s actually a beacon of hope for dark times. (P.S. Since this is a collection of oral interviews, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook!)
This YA book is not about a pandemic, but a world in which the moon has been hit by an meteor, knocking it closer in its orbit to Earth. Gravitation forces cause tidal waves of destruction, unprecedented volcanic activity, and earthquakes that ravage the world-over. Teenage Miranda and her family retreat into their home to survive in the cold and ash-covered world they now live in. Readers familiar with social distancing and quarantine will identify with the mental and emotional strain the characters endure as they hunker down in their home, worrying about food, supplies, and the effects of social isolation. The emotional reactions of the characters feel very real, and the story can often take bleak and distressing turns. Nevertheless, this is another hopeful read about how, even in a dark and apocalyptic world, we can still find love and hope to cling to.