Many people are stipulating that after this pandemic is over, we will have rethought our systems, our ways. Like how, really, who needs to clock in and out of the office when things can be done remotely (and more productively away from the chains of the usual office setup)?
We would have changed the way we think about politics, about pandemic preparedness, about capitalism and its ills, about the class system and strangely, seemingly minute things like paywalls. At least that is the hope.
It is a point of contention in academic circles whether or not hefty paywalls should be barricading knowledge. It’s as if access to education wasn’t already restrictive in the first place, those with higher learning are still constrained by skyrocketing subscription plans just to access papers, studies and more references that can further learning.
Cambridge giving free access to books, JSTOR to articles, Scribd to uploaded documents…
It’s time to rethink and restructure the knowledge economy and all these paywalls.
— ross (@rosselle) March 19, 2020
Cambridge University Press is one of the educational institutions to waive its paywall for access to academic materials. “All 700 textbooks published and currently available in HTML format on Cambridge Core can now be accessed free until the end of May,” reads its statement. It’s also making available to the public more than 80 relevant book chapters and journal articles from peer-reviewed journals and publications to help better inform people about COVID-19.
Digital multi-disciplinary library JSTOR, meanwhile, is making its compendium of 6,000 ebooks and over 150 journals accessible without having to log in through its open content program.
For us regular citizens, there is Scribd, an online platform of books, audiobooks, magazines, documents and more. It just made its services free for 30 days without commitment (though you’ll have to key in card details for when the trial ends).
We’re opening up access to Scribd’s digital library free for the next 30-days through a special link. No credit card or subscription commitment required. Our goal is to be a resource and ensure everyone has access to quality content and information.
— Scribd (@Scribd) March 18, 2020
And while we know we all still have a backlog of books still waiting to be read, this offer is too good to pass up on, especially because they have newly released titles that prove inaccessible today as most physical bookstores cease operations.
Here are some of our top picks from the selection of free ebooks and audiobooks.
A very timely read about a pandemic that hit New York set in 2011. The protagonist Candace, a first-generation Chinese immigrant, recounts her last days in the city and subsequent survival among the last remaining people in a poignant prose.
If you liked Sally Rooney’s “Normal People,” this book about a female artist’s coming-ofage, something King has always been yearning for, is a must-read.
This multi-booked and award-winning novel revolves around twelve central characters—black British women who offer insight to contemporary Britain and the unheard stories of intersectionality amid a contentious past.
After his runaway debut novel about a Bulgarian escort, Greenwell writes a sequel of equal gravity (if not more) featuring an American teacher trying to navigate the tricky travails of love and identity in a foreign country.
Author Anna Wiener’s memoir may have been onto something writing in the context a previously uncharted territory: the excessive, often unchecked, ambition-fueled startup culture of Silicon Valley.
A culmination of eight years worth of reportage, Taddeo’s book is an account of American women’s sex lives and desires examined through the lives of three seemingly normal women.
Edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Diaspora and immigrant narratives prove to be potent sources of material in this anthology of stories about home written by Asian diasporic writers.
This is a fundamental read in the culinary and literary canon of the late gourmand Anthony Bourdain. Wittily subtitled “Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” the memoir-of-sorts is that and more, exploring the dark alleys of the supposedly glamorous profession of chefs.
Samin Nosrat and Wendy MacNaughton
If you loved its Netflix adaptation, Nosrat‘s book is far more illustrative, with details even audiovisual elements cannot portray. Coupled with illustrator Wendy MacNaughton’s colorful illustrations, the book is both a culinary and visual delight.
Anthony Doerr, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Colum McCann
Literary greats tell their stories about comfort food in this anthology. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Anthony Doerr, Colum McCann, Lev Grossman, Carmen Maria Machado, Alexander Chee, Porochista Khakpour, Claire Messud and more offer a conversational look into their lives off the pages and in plates.
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE
ART JOEY SIMBULAN