Stay Sharp and Informed with Online Books, News and Entertainment

Leisure Pursuits

Steer Clear of the News & Information Blues This Winter

While some of us enjoy roaming through the stacks at our local library looking for a new book to pass the time, others just don’t have that much time to spare. And while there’s something reassuring about tuning in to the same news team or radio programs each day, there are so many more voices to hear and people to learn from.

Online products and resources like audiobooks, eBooks, and podcasts can expand our horizons, educate, and entertain us in ways that traditional media like newspapers, magazines, and radios cannot. You can download what you want to watch or listen to at any time, at your convenience.

Here are a few products to explore if you’re looking for a new way to read, learn, and enjoy the thousands of books and fascinating information available online.



Remember what a treat it was to have a parent, teacher, older sibling or babysitter read aloud to you? Hearing someone else read a story lets us focus on picturing the place and players in our mind, and adds another element of enjoyment. Our minds can wander a bit, imagining the sights and sounds the characters might be experiencing as the pages unfold. Audiobooks are convenient, portable, and affordable. There are thousands of titles available online from many different sources. Most suppliers have monthly memberships or subscriptions that allow you to download a specific number of books per month; some have no limits to number of titles you can choose.

Most require that you have some sort of mobile device like an iPhone, iPad, or Android phone. You’ll need to download the app for the service you want to use in order to access their library, but it’s usually a simple process. There are also audiobook services that work with a PC, but they require you to add a service-specific download manager to your computer in order to access their extensive libraries.

Check with your local library to see if they offer free audiobooks or subscribe to a service like Hoopla, LibriVox, Loyal Books, or Overdrive. If so, you should be able to access free audiobooks by downloading an app and using your library card to login. Ask the library staff for assistance should you need it.



If you prefer to read in a more traditional manner, but like the convenience of using an electronic device versus a printed book, a reading tablet or eReader is the way to go. While there is no sound, you’ll have thousands of books at your fingertips, and the ability to read wherever and whenever you like, without lugging a bulky book bag. eReaders range in price from about $80 to $250 dollars, and websites like offer annual reviews of the best eReaders to help you chose the tablet and service that suits you best.



While 60% of Americans are familiar with the term “podcasting”, only 16% of Americans 55 and older have downloaded and listened to a podcast. There are thousands of podcasts available, offering everything from business news, comedy, crime, cooking tips, history, health, science, music and more. Some podcasts are hosted by celebrities such as author Malcolm Gladwell, host of the Revisionist History podcast. Others feature an eclectic lineup of hosts and contributors that changes from week to week.

Most podcasts require that you have a membership in a service like iHeart Radio or Spotify for access. You can listen on your PC or on a mobile device, but you’ll need to download an app to listen.

With so much information and entertainment at our disposal online, it seems a shame to limit ourselves to traditional media. Branch out a bit and get online to enjoy more books, more news, and more information from all over the world.