Volume 1, Resources 7: Book Concierge & Help With Meditating

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Hi friends! How’s it going? As you received this (if you’re subscribed and receiving it on 5/8/20), I am on Day 58 of shelter-in-place. Today (Friday) I am taking a mental health day along with my wife. We had our wedding anniversary earlier this week but we both had meetings so instead, we’re taking off today. We plan on eating ham, drinking booze, and renting the CATS movie. Yes, I know the movie is supposed to be awful. In fact, that is what I’m hoping for. We’ll also be attempting to make pineapple sorbet in the new ice cream/gelato/sorbet/froyo maker we got which was absolutely a quarantine purchase.

If you’re working right now, especially for those of you working at home, and you get any sort of mental health days or time off from your day job: TAKE THEM. TAKE DAYS OFF. YES, EVEN IF YOU’RE WORKING FROM HOME.

<image of Lisa Simpson holding a mug. A coffee pot labeled “being proactive about our mental health & wellness” is pouring into the mug which is labeled “me and hopefully you”>

For those of you who are new to this newsletter, welcome! This newsletter has two alternating but complementary flavors. Every other week, it’s about digging deep and talking about things like mental illness and relationship advice and all kinds of self-helpy, self-improvement stuff but without the fluff. The alternating weeks are me putting on my librarian glasses and giving you a couple resources that are usually free (or have a low cost) that are usually centered on mental wellness and emotional well-being but sometimes they’re also just really practical or fun.

Let’s get to it!

Resource #1: NPR’s Book Concierge

Some of you may know that my side-gig is as a book professional with Book Riot and as such, I read a lot of books, write about books, and podcast about books. I know very well that answering the question, “What should I read next?” can be overwhelming so here’s NPR’s Book Concierge to the rescue! Now, the selections are limited to books published from the years 2013 - 2019 but there are a total of 2,100 books to choose from so I don’t see that as a huge problem if you’re just looking for a book here or there.

You can narrow it down by multiple categories and the categories can be layered, so, for instance, I could choose “Funny Stuff” and “Nonfiction” and find a whole bunch of books that are totally up my alley. There are over two dozen categories like “Ladies First,” “Let’s Talk About Sex,” “Eye-Opening Reads,” “Comics & Graphic Novels,” “Science!,” and more. They do a fairly good job of offering books by a diverse range of authors.

The books definitely have affiliate links to purchase and help out NPR but I appreciate that they also have WorldCat links and a Goodreads link as well.

Resource #2: Guided Meditations Playlist

Full disclosure: I am absolute garbage at meditating and sometimes even breathing. Honestly, I’m crap at things that tend to lead to introspection. Ain’t nobody got time for that. “But you seem so self-aware!” you may think. Yeah, and the only way that happens is when it sneaks up on me and catches me by surprise.


A couple of years ago I did some free sessions on Headspace, a guided meditation app that is for all levels of folks. I liked it, but I was not going to shell out all the clams that they charge for an annual membership. Like, yo. You want to charge me seventy bucks to SIT QUIETLY BY MYSELF for ten minutes at a time? I do that on the toilet. Get the fuck outta here with your fees. I mean, I would. But I’d rather spend my money on eating my feelings.

I’m happy(?) to report that during this crisis, Headspace has made three of their short meditations free. So that’s something. But I wanted more, so I went poking around on the YouTube and made a playlist of guided meditations and guided breathing exercises that I don’t hate and I thought that if they help me, then maybe they can help someone else. I may add more to the playlist as I come across more. There are short ones and there are some longer ones. Below is the shortest one on the list, which I return to occasionally when taking a break from work:

That’s it for me this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, feel free to forward it to a friend and/or give me a tip!

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