How therapy dogs can help students cope with stress on college campuses

Dog being pet on a college campus
Therapy dogs are a great stress relief for many college students across the country.

  • Christine Kivlen is a clinical professor of occupational therapy at Wayne State University.
  • She says having therapy dogs on campus can be a great asset to improve students’ mental health.
  • These programs are both popular among college students and inexpensive for the school.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

At a private college in the Northeast, a first-year student said it was the highlight of her day whenever she would lie on the floor of her adviser’s office and cuddle with a therapy dog, a Leonberger named Stella.

At a large public university in the Midwest, a graduate student spoke of how a therapy dog there provided some much-needed relief.

“What stands out for me is how comforting it felt to pet the therapy dog, especially when I started to miss my family and my own dog at home,” the student, who is in a demanding health professional program, told me for my study of therapy dog programs for graduate students. The student spent about 35 minutes a week with three other students who all got to spend time with the therapy dog, petting her and giving her treats.

Another student in the same program said spending time with a therapy dog helped her prepare for high-stakes tests. “It was always really nice to spend time with the therapy dog before big exams,” the student said. “I felt like it gave me time to relax before the stressful test.”

Such scenes are becoming more and more common at college campuses throughout the US as college students increasingly turn to therapy dogs for comfort and to cope with the challenges of student life – such as increasing workloads.

And as the demand for mental health counseling on campuses continues to soar, colleges are using therapy animals as a way to improve student mental health. Therapy dog programs are provided to colleges and their students largely free of charge.

As an expert on therapy dog programs – more formally known as canine-assisted interventions – I’ve studied how the programs can improve student well-being. Among other benefits, therapy dogs can help students achieve a stronger sense of belonging and better deal with being homesick and lonely, while also lessening their anxiety and stress.

Some of this can be explained by how human bodies respond to pleasant interactions with therapy animals. A 2019 study found that college students who spent even just 10 minutes petting a dog or cat saw significantly decreased cortisol levels, which are known to indicate stress.

Animals on campus

In 2017, a survey of over 150 institutions found that 62% of schools had an animal-assisted intervention program.

Dog therapy programs tend to look different at each institution. Some programs may involve a few therapy dogs and their handlers casually visiting the library a few times throughout the semester.

In this setting, students may approach the therapy dogs one on one or in small groups. The time students spend with the therapy dog can vary from a few minutes to 45 minutes.

Other programs are more structured and involve scheduled times with a certain number of students being paired with an assigned therapy dog and handler.

Inexpensive for dog owners

The cost of having a dog registered as a therapy dog is relatively low for the owner.

The programs are typically coordinated by college personnel or faculty members in various departments, such as occupational therapy, psychology, or counseling, or by an activities coordinator in student services. The dogs are typically pets with a good temperament and training. The handler pays any fees required for the dog-and-handler team to be registered through a company that provides therapy dog registration. The handlers pay the fees because they enjoy providing animal-assisted intervention.

Through the company Pet Partners, a widely used animal-assisted intervention company, it costs the handler $15 to $30 for a dog/handler team to be evaluated, $95 to register the therapy dog team, and $70 to renew each subsequent year.

Calming effects

In my dissertation on animal-assisted interventions, I asked a series of open-ended questions of graduate students who were participating in therapy dog programs.

Several students related how pleasant it was to have a scheduled break from schoolwork. “The experience forced me to take time out of my day and dedicate it to not studying,” one student wrote.

“The therapy dog is so calm,” another student wrote. “Her energy/mellowness helped me to calm down each session.”

Not only did the students enjoy their time with the therapy dogs, but the therapy dogs also seemed to enjoy spending time with the students as well. Many handlers told me about their dogs being much more excited on the morning of their designated day to go to the college. They also reported that their dogs were even more excited when they arrived on campus.

Christine Kivlen, assistant professor (clinical) of occupational therapy, Wayne State University

The Conversation
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The 11 best Jane Austen books, including one she wrote as a teen

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Collage of Jane Austen books on blue background 4x3
According to Goodreads, “Pride and Prejudice,” “Sense and Sensibility,” and “Emma” are the best Jane Austen books.

Jane Austen was an English author whose novels have become timeless classics and have been adapted to films, television shows, and modern tales centuries after her passing in 1817. Loved for her astute ability to capture the beauty of ordinary characters, Jane Austen wrote beloved heroines in stories that serve as reflections of society at the time.

To rank her most popular works, we turned to Goodreads members. On Goodreads, readers can rate and review their favorite books and share recommendations with friends. Though she only published four novels in her lifetime, two others were published posthumously as well as two incomplete tales and early stories written in her teen years.

Whether you’re a new Austen reader looking for a romantic classic or a longtime fan hoping to find your next read, here are all of Jane Austen’s works, as ranked by Goodreads members.

The 11 best Jane Austen books, ranked by Goodreads members:

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $8.28

Pride and Prejudice” is Jane Austen’s most popular novel, earning nearly two million five-star reviews on Goodreads and selling over 20 million copies since its publication in 1813. This novel follows the witty and fascinating relationship between the beautiful Elizabeth Bennet and the proud Mr. Darcy as they meet and fall in love through flirtatious quarreling in this heartwarming, historical romance classic.

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $7.36

Adored for Austen’s ability to capture a depth of emotion, “Sense and Sensibility” was Jane Austen’s first published novel in 1811 and centers upon the coming-of-age stories of two sisters, Marianne and Elinor. As Marianne impulsively falls for an unfitting suitor, Elinor attempts to hide her own romantic disappointment on their search for love in a society that values status above all else.

Emma

Emma book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $8.28

Looking to write a headstrong heroine who “no one but myself will much like,” Jane Austen created Emma, a vivid and spoiled young woman who believes she’s a natural matchmaker. As Emma’s meddling complicates relationships, a series of comedic romantic misunderstandings ensue in this novel adored for Emma’s entertaining adventures.

Persuasion

Persuasion book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $6.44

Eight years ago, Anne Elliot was engaged to a naval officer named Fredrick Wentworth, but ended the relationship after her friend convinced her that he was not a good match. When Fredrick returns home, Anne finds that she still deeply regrets ending their relationship in this novel that explores the strength of love and second chances. 

Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $7.36

Though the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be completed, “Northanger Abbey” is a gothic parody that was published posthumously. It’s about a 17-year-old girl named Catherine whose love of gothic thrillers angles the story towards a dark and cryptic atmosphere. When Catherine falls in love with Henry Tilney, she visits his family estate and lets the old, gothic mansion build her suspicions of nefarious hidden secrets. 

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $3.95

At 10 years old, Fanny Price is sent to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle, The Bertrams, at their country estate, Mansfield Park. Mistreated by nearly all of her family, Fanny finds solace in the kindness of her slightly older cousin, Edmund, in this coming-of-age classic.

Lady Susan

Lady Susan book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $6

Written as a series of letters from different characters, “Lady Susan” is an early Austen novel that follows Lady Susan Vernon, a flirtatious woman who is known for her manipulative and seductive ways of getting what she wants. Stuck in a difficult financial situation after the death of her first husband, Lady Susan embarks on a mission to marry off her teenage daughter and find  an even better man for herself. 

Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon

Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon collection book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $10.12

This collection includes the posthumously published “Lady Susan” and two other unfinished works, “The Watsons” and “Sanditon.” Perfect for any Jane Austen fan hungry for more of her writing, these stories offer Austen’s literary mastery in three less-frequently-read tales. 

Love and Freindship: And Other Youthful Writings

Love and Freindship book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $5.99

Love and Freindship” [sic] is one of several stories Jane Austen wrote in her teen years, this one at only 14 years old, written to amuse her family. Told through a series of letters from the main character, Laura, to her friend’s daughter, Marianne, the story is a romantic parody about Laura’s failing love life and her warnings to Marianne about the dangers of romance.

Jane Austen’s Letters

Jane Austen's Letters book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop, $29.95

Jane Austen’s Letters” serves as a fascinating biography that brings Jane, her family, and her environment to life. Chronologically organized and accompanied by heavily researched annotations, Jane Austen’s witty and memorable voice is revived in this collection of letters, perfect for any fan looking to explore the author’s history on a deeper level. 

The Beautifull Cassandra

The Beautifull Cassandra book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $3.42

Told in 12 short chapters, “The Beautifull Cassandra” [sic] is a miniature novel dedicated to Jane Austen’s older sister, Cassandra. In this charming story, Cassandra sets off to have a perfect day through a series of slightly criminal but joyful acts. 

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Every selection on Oprah’s Book Club list so far

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Diagonal Pattern of books chosen for Oprah’s book club; including “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride and “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Since her book club’s start in 1996, Oprah has recommended over 90 books, from classics to obscure titles that became famous from being included on the list.

  • Oprah Winfrey has recommended more than 90 books through Oprah’s Book Club.
  • The list includes both classics from Faulkner and obscure titles catapulted into the mainstream.
  • Find the complete list of Oprah’s Book Club books below.

Since the mid-’90s, Oprah Winfrey has been recommending books to the public.

Oprah’s Book Club has helped catapult obscure titles to the mainstream, and highlighted classics by Charles Dickens and William Faulkner, now serving as a time capsule of the buzziest contemporary books, love stories, and Pulitzer Prize-winning page-turners.

Over the years, Oprah’s Book Club has also experienced controversy. In 2005, James Frey’s memoir “A Million Little Pieces” was selected for the club and later denounced by Winfrey as almost entirely fabricated on live television in a popular Oprah show episode. And In 2020, Oprah’s inclusion of “American Dirt” came under fire and sparked a conversation on appropriation and the white gaze in literature.

The book club’s massive popularity has dramatically altered the publishing industry. At one point, Winfrey reportedly got stores to order 500,000 copies of a book without knowing its title, only that it was her next selection. And Toni Morrison, who was featured in the club four times, reportedly earned a greater sales boost from Oprah’s book club than the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Below, you’ll find the complete list of all 90+ books selected for Oprah’s Book Club since its inception in 1996.

Descriptions are provided from Amazon and Bookshop and are edited lightly for clarity and length.

All of Oprah’s Book Club selections so far:

“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

"The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $21.38

The great scholar W. E. B. Du Bois once wrote about the problem of race in America, and what he called “Double Consciousness,” a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well. 

To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors — Indigenous, Black, and white — in the deep South. In doing so, Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story — and the song — of America itself.

“The Sweetness of Water” by Nathan Harris

"The Sweetness of Water"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $14

In the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry — freed by the Emancipation Proclamation — seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping through an unexpected friendship to stanch their grief. Prentiss and Landry, meanwhile, plan to save money for the journey north and a chance to reunite with their mother, who was sold away when they were boys.

Parallel to their story runs a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers. The young men, recently returned from the war to the town of Old Ox, hold their trysts in the woods. But when their secret is discovered, the resulting chaos, including a murder, unleashes convulsive repercussions on the entire community. In the aftermath of so much turmoil, it is Isabelle who emerges as an unlikely leader, proffering a healing vision for the land and for the newly free citizens of Old Ox.

“Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson

"Gilead"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.49

In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames’s life, he begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forebears. Ames is the son of an Iowan preacher and the grandson of a minister who, as a young man in Maine, saw a vision of Christ bound in chains and came west to Kansas to fight for abolition: He “preached men into the Civil War,” then, at age 50, became a chaplain in the Union Army, losing his right eye in battle.

Reverend Ames writes to his son about the tension between his father — an ardent pacifist — and his grandfather, whose pistol and bloody shirts, concealed in an army blanket, may be relics from the fight between the abolitionists and those settlers who wanted to vote Kansas into the union as a slave state. And he tells a story of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, which are tested in his tender and strained relationship with his namesake, John Ames Boughton, his best friend’s wayward son.

“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson

"Caste"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $12.49

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people — including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others — she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day, and how it impacts us all. 

“Deacon King Kong” by James McBride

This cover image released by Riverhead Books shows "Deacon King Kong," a novel by James McBride.  Oprah Winfrey has chosen McBride’s “Deacon King Kong” for her book club. McBride’s novel is set in a Brooklyn housing project in 1969. It pays tribute to community and to McBride's own childhood in a Brooklyn project. (Riverhead Books via AP)

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $12.59

In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and, in front of everybody, shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.

The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of “Deacon King Kong.” James McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: The victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.

As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters — caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York — overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.

“Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family” by Robert Kolker

"Hidden Valley Road"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $14.99

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don’s work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their 12 children perfectly spanned the baby boom: The oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins — aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony — and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: Psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the 10 Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?

What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.

“American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins

American Dirt

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $14.99

Lydia Quixano Perez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco and runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. 

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with four books he would like to buy ― two of them her favorites. Unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. As they join the thousands of people trying to reach American dirt, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

  • Note: “American Dirt” has been a lightning rod for discussions around appropriation and the white gaze in literature. For more context on the book’s controversy, read this breakdown.

“Olive, Again” by Elizabeth Strout

"Olive, Again"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $12.54

The iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire us — in Strout’s words — “to bear the burden of the mystery with as much grace as we can.”

“The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Water Dancer

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $12.31 

Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her — but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: To escape from the only home he’s ever known.

So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama

"Becoming"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.48

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her — from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it — in her own words and on her own terms.

“The Sun Does Shine” by Anthony Ray Hinton

"The Sun Does Shine"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $12.39

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only 29 years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.

But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor Black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence ― full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. 

But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive but to find a way to live on Death Row. For the next 27 years, he was a beacon ― transforming not only his own spirit but those of his fellow inmates, 54 of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of “Just Mercy,” Bryan Stevenson, Hinton

“An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones

"An American Marriage"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $12.95

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. 

Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

“Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue

"Behold the Dreamers"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.32

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty — and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job — even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

“Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle

The cover of Love Warrior

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.33 

Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out ― three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list ― her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: That her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $13.12

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood — where greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him.

In Colson Whitehead’s ingenious conception, “The Underground Railroad” is no mere metaphor: Engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering, like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop.

“Ruby” by Cynthia Bond

"Ruby"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $11.02 

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city — the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village — all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother.

When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, 30-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

“The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd

"The Invention of Wings"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.07

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early 19th century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s 11th birthday, when she is given ownership of 10-year-old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next 35 years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement, and the uneasy ways of love.

“The Twelve Tribes of Hattie” by Ayana Mathis

"The Twelve Tribes"

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.44

In 1923, 15-year-old Hattie Shepherd, swept up by the tides of the Great Migration, flees Georgia and heads north. Full of hope, she settles in Philadelphia to build a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins are lost to an illness that a few pennies could have prevented. 

Hattie gives birth to nine more children, whom she raises with grit, mettle, and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them to meet a world that will not be kind. Their lives, captured here in 12 luminous threads, tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage — and a nation’s tumultuous journey.

“Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

 “Wild  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $9.22

At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered, and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone. 

Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, “Wild” powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Additional selections:

You can find the complete list of selected titles here.

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A California school district is putting ‘now hiring’ flyers in students’ lunch boxes to help fill 200 job openings during a staff shortage, a report says

teacher
A California school district is sending students home with “now hiring” flyers, AP reported.

  • A short-staffed school district is giving students “now hiring” flyers to take home, AP reported.
  • Staff in the California school district are packing the flyers into students’ lunch boxes, per the report.
  • The district has more than 200 job openings. Other US school districts are struggling for staff too.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A school district in California is packing students’ lunch boxes with “now hiring” flyers for them to take home to their parents as it struggles with a shortage of staff, AP reported on Thursday.

The Morongo Unified School District, in the Mojave Desert, has more than 200 job openings for custodians, cafeteria workers, special education assistants, and other roles, Mike Ghelber, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources, told AP.

Some US schools say they’re scrambling for staff because of a labor shortage. The pandemic led many staff to quit, while others that test positive for COVID-19 have to isolate. Teachers told Insider they’ve had to work long hours under a lot of pressure since March 2020.

In addition to the flyers, the California school district has advertised the positions on the radio, on social media, and in newspapers, AP reported.

“We’re all competing for a shrinking piece of the pie,” Ghelber told AP. “I don’t know if everybody is getting snatched up, or if they don’t want to teach in the COVID era, but it’s like the well has dried up.”

Staff in the Morongo Unified School District, which has 8,000 students, are carrying out tasks that are not part of their normal job, according to Ghelber.

“Principals and administrators are out being crossing guards. Secretaries are directing traffic because we’re short on supervisors,” Ghelber told AP.

Teachers told Insider in August that they were worried about stepping back into the classroom. Some said they often worked until the early hours of the morning, and had considered quitting teaching for a job in a restaurant.

Some schools have handed teachers bonuses as a thank you for working during the pandemic. Georgia offered $1,000 to all K-12 public school-level staff including teachers, nurses, and admin staff in March. A school district in South Carolina has paid $2,500 retention bonuses to teachers who are set to stay in the job for the full 2021-22 academic year.

Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last

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All the young adult books recommended by Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club so far

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Reese Witherspoon's YA book pics, including Furia, You Have a Match, and The Fire Keeper's Daughter 4x3
The young adult books on Reese’s Book Club list include “Furia,” “You Have a Match,” and “You Should See Me in a Crown.”

Disappearing into a great young adult book feels like magic. We’re swept away into different lives and worlds for hours at a time, finding stories that can help strengthen our values, cultivate our imagination, and learn how to approach a spectrum of emotions and experiences -all from the comfort of a book.

If you’re looking for your next YA book (or a great gift for a teen), you might want to consider these nine from Reese’s Book Club. Each title, like all 58 Reese Witherspoon book picks, focuses on female protagonists, whether they’re moonlighting as an advice columnist or reluctantly campaigning for Prom Queen to win the college scholarship of their dreams.

The 9 YA books selected for Reese’s Book Club so far:

Descriptions are from Amazon and edited for length and clarity.

“The Downstairs Girl” by Stacey Lee (Summer 2021)

The Downstairs Girl book cover with Reese's Book Club sticker

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $8.79

By day, 17-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.”

When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. 

While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. 

“Tokyo Ever After” by Emiko Jean (Summer 2021)

Tokyo Ever After book cover with Reese's Book Club sticker

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $15.99

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in — it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi — or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way” — and her mom against the world. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity… and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izumi travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. Izumi soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself — back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairy tale, happily ever after?

“Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley (Spring 2021)

Firekeeper's Daughter book cover with Reese's Book Club sticker

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.23

18-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold to look after her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team.

Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source. But the search for truth is more complicated than Daunis imagined, exposing secrets and old scars.

“You Have a Match” by Emma Lord (Winter 2021)

You Have a Match book cover with Reese's Book Club sticker

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.11

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister. 

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents. The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents put Savvy up for adoption.

“The Light in Hidden Places” by Sharon Cameron (December 2020)

The Light in Hidden Places book cover with Reese's Book Club sticker

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $10.99

It is 1943, and for four years, 16-year-old Stefania has been working for the Diamant family in their grocery store in Przemysl, Poland. She has even made a promise to one of their sons, Izio — a betrothal they must keep secret since she is Catholic and the Diamants are Jewish.

But everything changes when the German army invades Przemysl. The Diamants are forced into the ghetto, and Stefania makes the extraordinary decision to hide Max Diamant, and eventually 12 more Jews. Then they must wait, every day, for a knock at the door. When the knock finally comes, it is two Nazi officers, requisitioning Stefania’s house for the German army.

With two Nazis below, 13 hidden Jews above, and a little sister by her side, Stefania has one more excruciating choice to make.

“A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow” by Laura Taylor Namey (November 2020)

A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow book cover with Reese's Book Club sticker

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $11.49

For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) Take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) Move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) Live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything — including Lila herself — fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

“Fable” by Adrienne Young (October 2020)

Fable book cover with Reese's Book Club sticker

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $14.69

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home 17-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day, her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive, she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. 

The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so, Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

“Furia” by Yamile Saied Mendez (September 2020)

Furia book cover with Reese's Book Club sticker

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $11.49

A powerful contemporary young adult for fans of “The Poet X” and “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line — even her blooming love story — to follow her dreams.

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life. 

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father. 

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, “Furia” is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.

“You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson (August 2020)

You Should See Me In a Crown book cover with Reese's Book Club sticker

Available on Amazon and Bookshop from $9.99

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too Black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: Attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down… until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. 

There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington. The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams… or make them come true?

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‘Intimations’ by Zadie Smith is the surprisingly soothing book about the pandemic I didn’t know I needed – which is why I keep gifting it to all my friends

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A copy of "Intimations" by Zadie Smith
“Intimations” by Zadie Smith is a short, approachable book that I – and many of my friends – have loved reading.

  • Zadie Smith’s “Intimations” is a short essay collection about her year in the pandemic.
  • It’s engaging, under 100 pages, and easy to carry around, which is why I keep gifting to friends.
  • For more information on our book coverage, check out our Education and Personal Development section.

Of the books I’ve read recently, the one I’ve carted around in my purse and habitually revisited the most this year is “Intimations” by Zadie Smith, a short essay collection about the award-winning writer’s year during the pandemic. (Case in point: During a transit delay, I started writing this article in the book’s inside flap.)

by Zadie Smith (medium)

Smith, who wrote the internationally acclaimed “White Teeth” at 24 years old and whose third novel, “On Beauty,” was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is one of the first high-profile authors to publish a collection on the COVID-19 pandemic.

I wasn’t in the mood for an obstinate pandemic book that neatly analyzed the times we find ourselves in. But “Intimations” is not a pandemic book, per se: Smith tells us from the outset that it’s not meant to be a historical, analytical, or political account of what happened.

Instead, it feels like eavesdropping on the inner monologue of one of the best writers and cultural critics alive. At times, it feels similar to Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations,” a well-known series of the Roman Emperor’s personal writings on self-improvement that Smith picked up early in lockdown.

Open page of "Intimations" by Zadie Smith
“Intimations” is slender and easy to flit in and out of, so it’s always on me. When my subway stalled and my phone died, I started writing this article on its inside flap.

Reading the musings of an intelligent, empathetic person who leaves space for doubt alongside moral clarity was a salve I didn’t know I badly needed.

It’s also what makes it a good gift: It’s a wonderful, surprising book that the recipient may never think to request. As someone who received it as a present myself, here’s why I keep giving it to all my friends:

Its diverse essays can appeal to many different people, and even help deepen connections.

“Intimations” is made up of six succinct essays that tie in with the COVID-19 pandemic – a period that, for many, mostly occurred online, where language is often influenced by righteous polarization.

What makes this book feel like a balm is Smith’s distaste for a strict ideological prism: A decade ago, she stated that “ideological inconsistency is, for me, practically an article of faith.” At the same time, she doesn’t use comfort with ambiguity to forgo having moral stances – some of her essays dissect the impact of systemic evils in politics and culture.

"Intimations" by Zadie Smith open, resting on author's legs on the subway
I’ve brought this book to dinner, the beach (see sunscreen at the bottom), and gifted it to all my friends.

And because of Smith’s empathy, we get to meet dynamic, surprising humans. “A Woman with a Little Dog” is about a 70-year-old-neighbor with a thick, untraceable New York accent and a radical women’s group that discusses the writings of Anaïs Nin. “Screengrabs” focuses on a masseuse named Ben who’s responsible for the livelihoods of 15 employees and a crushing Manhattan rent.

As our guide, Smith doesn’t pretend to have an omniscient understanding of the people she writes about. Instead, she teaches us to consider their lives as “absolutely as real” as ours.

The fast-paced, unflowery, and deeply humanizing writing in “Intimations” is what makes it a great book to share with loved ones, regardless of their literary tastes or even their political leanings.

It’s short, which means your friends and family can even finish it in one sitting.

Book gifts aren’t often used right away. A few hundred pages can require hours of attention, so reading a book you didn’t choose requires trust in the gifter and, often, a serendipitous lack of distractions.

Beyond the fact that this book is excellent, I’ve gifted it a lot because it’s so short and compact. It has a remarkably high success rate for being read; often, in one sitting. Its length, short chapters, spare (yet insightful) writing, and diverse essay topics make it easy to begin and hard to put down.

I’ve personally witnessed how quickly people inhale “Intimations”: During a beach day this summer, a friend borrowed my copy. She finished it in two hours, and another friend started it right after.

It’s travel-friendly, making it perfect for frequent re-reading.

A photo of a snakeskin bag with “Intimations” inside of it

At the time of publication (July 2020), the year was only halfway over. “Intimations” is subsequently short, given the busyness and uncertainty of that period – 97 pages, slimmer-than-a-wallet, fits-in-my-purse short.

As a result, it’s become my constant companion. I’ve read this book on planes and trains crisscrossing the US. I’ve carried it rolled in a sun hat to the beach and unfurled a favorite passage when I’m the first to arrive at dinner.

Zadie Smith's book "Intimations" in a beach hat.
When I forgot a beach bag, I was able to easily carry the book in a sun hat.

Its size is also the reason I started reading it: After a friend gifted it to me, I truthfully avoided it for months. Living in a pandemic felt overwhelming enough; My life had (with great privilege) shrunk to the size of my apartment and, after pumping a never-ending stream of morbid news updates into my mind for months, I was looking for some escapism.

But when I unzipped my purse to begin “Intimations” during a particularly long subway stall, I learned it does something better than obscure my reality: It helped me process the pandemic through roundabout vignettes or “intimations” that allow more space for duality.

It’s the book’s comfort with complexity – without giving into nihilism – that makes it so inviting to re-read and discover new details each time.

The bottom line

Intimations” gives us a bit of peace and perspective. Smith separates herself from loud and convenient certainty and attempts to tell us what half of the year has been like for her. And, in doing so, gives us some practical assistance in our own self-improvement. (As a bonus, Smith is also donating her royalties from sales of this book to The Equal Justice Initiative and The COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for New York.)

While it may seem shallow to credit a book’s readability in part to its size, “Intimations” also benefits from its slim, under-100-page package. It’s easy to start, and Smith’s writing is too absorbing to abandon.

Or, at least, that’s why my phone is full of “already finished it!” texts from friends who’ve yet to open any of the other books I’ve given them.

by Zadie Smith (medium)

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The 15 best online marketing courses and certificate programs in 2021

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Young woman taking an online marketing class
Sites like edX, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning offer free or affordable online marketing courses and certificate programs.

  • Understanding marketing, social media, and SEO can help you move up in your career or business.
  • Sites like edX, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning offer free or affordable online marketing courses.
  • Below, we outlined the best online marketing courses and certificate programs.

Online marketing is all around us, from social media ads to our Google search results and even sponsored blog posts. If you’re a business owner, are contemplating a change of careers, or simply want to learn new in-demand skills, understanding the ins and outs of online marketing can be a game-changer.

There are different types of marketing professionals. Some may dedicate their time to creating print or digital advertisements, while others focus on social media channels or work with content writers to find the best keywords to boost their SEO ranking and Google search results.

As with many professions, there are a lot of learning opportunities available online, from free introductory courses to in-depth certificate programs from platforms like edX, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, and Skillshare. Whether you want to expand your knowledge (or even just see if a marketing career seems interesting enough to commit yourself to), taking an online marketing course can help take your career or business to new heights.

The 15 best online marketing courses and certificate programs:

Online marketing courses

Online marketing certificate programs

Online marketing courses

Introduction to Marketing

man using laptop

Available on edX

This University of British Columbia course is designed for beginners and anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of all marketing jargon as well as strategies and techniques. Students learn a range of topics including market research, how to gain customers, and how to use social media.  

Digital Marketing Foundations

Screengrab from Linkedin Learning Digital Marketing Foundations course

Available on Linkedin Learning

Whether you’re a novice or have some experience with online marketing, this relatively short class teaches you how to figure out your audience and target customers by using SEO, digital ads, and social media to meet your goals.

The Complete Digital Marketing Course

Graphic depicting a cardboard box with multiple social media and web browser icons inside.jpg

Available on Udemy

Whether you’re considering a new career, want to expand your professional skillsets, or want to get your business off the ground, this intensive and immersive course can help. Topics range from market research, Google Adwords, and using WordPress for copywriting.

Digital Marketing Analytics: Tools and Techniques

Woman working in library

Available on edX

If you want to learn how to analyze marketing data, consider this self-paced course from the University of Maryland that covers what you need to know and the tools to use for a positive marketing presence that actually gets results. Topics include search engine optimization (SEO), web analytics, Big Data applications, and more.

Digital Marketing | The Complete Google Ads Masterclass

Screen grab from Digital Marketing - The Complete Google Ads Masterclass on Skillshare

Available on Skillshare

One of the many aspects of online marketing is creating advertisements on Google. This class is geared for anyone who wants to grow their business or wants to expand their skills, where you quickly learn how to use ads to increase traffic to your website, convert your target audience into customers, analyze ad campaigns, and more.

Digital Marketing Strategy: Profitable Sales Funnel Fundamentals

Maggie Stara teaching Digital Marketing Strategy: Profitable Sales Funnel Fundamentals on Skillshare
Instructor Maggie Stara provides tips and tricks to commerce on social media in this course.

Available on Skillshare

Designed for marketing novices, this course teaches different strategies on how to turn your target audience into customers and increase your sales by understanding metrics and using different pricing scales. 

SEO Foundations

Screen grab from SEO Foundations online course

Available on Linkedin Learning

If you’re interested in honing your SEO skills for your job or your own business, this course is designed with that in mind. The class focuses on using the principles of SEO, such as using keyword search, internal and external links, as well as implementing an SEO strategy to achieve notable results.

Online Advertising & Social Media

Young woman using laptop in a library

Available on edX

Knowing how to use social media as a marketing tool is a skill in its own right. This University of Maryland course covers everything you need to know, including the importance of SEO, lead generation, video advertisements, and content marketing.

Social Media Marketing

Graphic depicting world with social media icons surrounding it

Available on Udemy

This course is specifically designed for business owners who want to finetune their social media marketing skills. It teaches students how to use different types of social media and create a social media strategy, while also covering the risks involved.

The Strategy of Content Marketing

Woman sitting on couch working on laptop

Available on Coursera

This University of California, Davis course highlights the importance of content writing and how to use it to attract customers, create a strategy that you can measure, and write engaging copy. This course also features assignments for hands-on learning.

Google Universal Analytics Essential Training

Cookies online

Available on Linkedin Learning

Digital marketing is complex, but if you want to understand all the happenings behind the scenes of how your business comes up in search engines and how people interact with your website, this class is for you.

Online marketing certificate programs

Digital Marketing Fundamentals Professional Certificate

Screengrab from Digital Marketing Fundamentals Professional Certificate video

Available on edX

Curious about all the marketing jargon and different strategies that are used to target customers? This fundamentals certificate program from the University of Edinburgh explains everything you need to know to conduct a competitor audit as well as create your own marketing strategy.

Digital Marketing Strategy and Planning Specialization

a person types on a laptop

Available on Coursera

A series of three courses, this Specialization from the Digital Marketing Institute is designed for beginners who want to learn about various aspects of marketing, including social media and content writing, as well as how to design and implement a marketing strategy that effectively converts your target audience into customers.

Digital Marketing Specialization

Data science Harvard courses person using laptop

Available on Coursera

Part of the University of Illinois’s online MBA degree, this Coursera Specialization covers the data analysis and web tools needed to identify a core audience before diving into the principles of digital marketing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialization

using laptop at home

Available on Coursera

Understanding how SEO works is crucial for any business or organization. This four-course Specialization from the University of California, Davis teaches you the basics of SEO, from conducting a keyword search to optimizing a website and analyzing web reports. Upon completion of the certificate program, you’ll be able to identify and recommend SEO best practices to future clients. 

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The 20 most popular books of all time, according to Goodreads members

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Pattern of the most popular Goodreads books, including The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games, and The Great Gatsby 4x3
According to Goodreads, some of the most popular books of all time include “The Great Gatsby,” “Pride & Prejudice,” and “The Hunger Games.”

  • Goodreads is the world’s largest platform for readers to rate and review books.
  • Below are the 20 most popular books of all time, ranked by Goodreads members.
  • Want more books? Check out the most popular books of 2021, based on Goodreads.

Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers to rate and review their favorite books and authors, track their reading, participate in challenges, and discover new book recommendations. No matter what you like to read, you can find it on Goodreads along with tons of fellow readers who love the same books.

With millions of ratings and community reviews, readers are encouraged to share their opinions to help others determine their next read. We used the number of ratings of each book to determine the most popular books amongst Goodreads members, so whether you’re curious if your favorite book made the list or are looking for a new read with millions of recommendations, here are the top 20 most popular books on Goodreads.

The 20 most popular books of all time on Goodreads:

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $6.98

With nearly 8 million ratings, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is the most popular book of all time on Goodreads and has sold over 120 million copies. In this first book of the “Harry Potter” series, readers meet a young orphan boy who learns he’s a wizard and begins his magical training at Hogwarts, a special school for witches and wizards.

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

the hunger games

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.69

With almost 7 million ratings on Goodreads, “The Hunger Games” is the first book in a young adult dystopian series where the country is divided up into districts that annually select one boy and one girl to fight to the death in a highly publicized arena. When Katniss’s little sister is chosen for the games, she volunteers in her sister’s place and immediately begins training before entering the deadly arena.

“Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer

twilight

“Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.16

“Twilight” is an iconic young adult vampire romance novel about a high school girl named Bella who falls in love with a mysterious boy named Edward and quickly finds out he’s a vampire. As the threat of a nearby nomadic vampire looms, Bella chooses to be with Edward and discovers the secrets of his world, despite the nearly constant risks to her life. 

“To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

to kill a mockingbird

“To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.19

“To Kill A Mockingbird” is an American classic from 1960, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and frequently voted as one of the best books of the 20th century. It’s about a young girl named Scout who’s growing up in a time of racial division, amplified as her lawyer father defends an innocent Black man wrongly accused of a horrible crime. 

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

the great gatsby

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $5.97

First published in 1925, “The Great Gatsby” is a classic Jazz Age novel about millionaire Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan. Narrated by Gatsby’s neighbor, Nick Carraway, the novel follows Gatsby’s shady business dealings, extravagant parties, and pursuit of Daisy’s affection. 

“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

the fault in our stars

“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $6.10

In this absolute tear-jerker, Hazel is battling a terminal cancer diagnosis, offered a few extra years by a miracle medical advancement. In her cancer support group, she meets Augustus Waters and they immediately begin to fall for each other in this tragic and beautiful young adult love story. 

“1984” by George Orwell

1984

“1984” by George Orwell, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.48

In this novel predicting a dystopian future from its original publication in 1949, Winston Smith is living in a totalitarian world defined by strict mass surveillance and inundating propaganda. Winston works at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history to fit the government’s narrative, and can’t help but wonder what the world was truly like before the revolution. 

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

pride and prejudice

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $5.47

“Pride and Prejudice” is an 1813 romantic classic about Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman who is pressured to marry a wealthy man in order to provide for her family. She meets the brooding Mr. Darcy, with whom she begins a witty but civilized sparring banter as they slowly fall for each other in this novel about the influences of class and the importance of being true to yourself. 

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth

divergent

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.46

In the dystopian science fiction world of “Divergent,” all 16-year-olds must devote themselves to one of five factions in society, each dedicated to a virtue. Beatrice Prior is torn between staying with her family and being true to herself, so she makes a daring and shocking decision, thrusting her into an intense initiation and transformation while keeping a potentially deadly secret and discovering the growing conflict within her seemingly flawless society. 

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling

prisoner of azkaban

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.78

When a murderer named Sirius Black escapes the wizarding world’s highest security prison, rumor says he’s headed to kill Harry since the dark Lord Voldemort’s downfall was his as well. Even with the soulless prison guards searching the castle for Sirius, danger seems to follow Harry at every turn. 

“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien

the hobbit

“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.37

This fantastical classic introduces readers to magical Middle-Earth where Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, sets out on a quest to win a treasure guarded by a dragon. Initially written for the author’s children, this adventure novel is a prequel to the epic “Lord of the Rings” series and is a charming favorite with over three million ratings and 1.6 million five-star reviews on Goodreads.  

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling

deathly hallows

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.98

In the final book of the “Harry Potter” series, Harry and his two best friends are on a cross-country journey to find the final answers that will help them defeat the dark wizard Lord Voldemort. Cumulating in an epic and devastating battle at Hogwarts, this intense novel closes the fantastical series with a shocking and emotional resolution. 

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

animal farm

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.48

“Animal Farm” is a classic satirical novel about a group of mistreated farm animals who rebel against the human farmer to take over the farm and attempt to create a system where all animals are free and equal. But when the community is betrayed and collapses under a single dictator, the animals’ hopes for equality diminish. 

“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank

anne frank

“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.35

Written by Anne Frank during the Nazi occupation of Holland, this diary is a firsthand, nonfiction account of the two years Anne and her family spent hiding in a secret annex of an old office building. With thoughtful insight and emotional impressions of the time, Anne’s diary is a testament to her courage during the final years of her life. 

“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by J.K. Rowling

chamber of secrets

“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by J.K. Rowling, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $6.98

Before returning to Hogwarts for his second year of school, Harry receives an ominous message of the danger that awaits him if he’s to return. Needing to escape his dreadful aunt and uncle, Harry ignores the warning and happily returns to school — until students begin to turn to stone and a strange voice in the wall means Harry might be the only one who can save them.

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

catcher in the rye

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $5.21

“The Catcher in the Rye” is a young adult classic about a 16-year-old boy named Holden Caulfield and his three-day adventure through New York City. Heavily impacted by his experiences, Holden is an example of teenage rebellion as he navigates complex feelings about innocence, connection, and loss. 

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J.K. Rowling

goblet of fire

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J.K. Rowling, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $6.92

In this fourth book of the “Harry Potter” series, Hogwarts is one of three schools participating in a Triwizard Tournament where one representative witch or wizard from each school must complete three extremely challenging tasks. When Harry’s name is picked in addition to the three competitors, he must compete in the tournament, despite not knowing how he was entered. 

“Angels & Demons” by Dan Brown

angels and demons

“Angels & Demons” by Dan Brown, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.20

“Angels & Demons” is the first book in the “DaVinci Code” series, a thrilling mystery novel where readers meet world-renowned symbologist Robert Langdon as he’s called to help explain the mysterious symbols left seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. His research takes him through an intense investigation that leads him towards a deadly vendetta from the Illuminati. 

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

the girl with the dragon tattoo

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.19

In this international psychological thriller, Henrik Vanger is a billionaire whose niece disappeared over 40 years ago. Still searching for answers, he hires Mikal Blomkvist, a renowned journalist who recently lost a libel lawsuit, along with Lisbeth Salander, a mysterious but brilliant computer hacker. As the duo digs deeper into the investigation, they uncover a complex weave of family and financial secrets in this captivating Swedish thriller. 

“Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins

catching fire

“Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins, available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.98

The second book in the “Hunger Games” saga follows Katniss and her public love interest, Peeta, after their historic arena win. Though they should be celebrating, rumors of a growing rebellion infuriate the Capitol and threaten their safety in this fast-paced, science-fiction sequel.

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Students face anxiety and stress over COVID-19, and fierce battles over school mask mandates fuel the turmoil, experts say

A teacher takes the temperature of pupils lining up outside school wearing face masks.
Some teachers are being offered retention bonuses during the pandemic.

  • Mask mandates at schools have been a political flashpoint across the US in recent months.
  • Meanwhile, students are exhibiting stress relating to the risks of catching COVID-19, experts say.
  • Students and mental health counselors are warning of the effects on young people’s mental wellness.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Since the school year began, 16-year-old Brandon Perkins has been carrying hand sanitizer everywhere he goes.

He’s fully vaccinated, he told Insider in an interview on Saturday, and, at his high school in Strongsville, Ohio, he and his friends wear masks – though plenty of others don’t, he said.

The Strongsville City Schools district “strongly recommends” that students and staff wear masks while indoors, the superintendent said in a recent letter to parents. But they’re not required.

Meanwhile, the state has no official mask mandate – something that Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said he would favor in comments last week, while warning that such a move would be swiftly shot down by the state’s legislators.

At Strongsville High School, “the COVID situation actually has gotten a little bit out of hand,” Perkins told Insider. On Saturday, the school counted 16 students or staff members in active isolation, according to a public dashboard maintained by the district. Sixty-nine are in active quarantine. A spokesperson for the district did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.

“I’m trying to do all the protocols that we’re supposed to, but if the school doesn’t do anything at all, they don’t change anything at all, it will just keep getting worse,” Perkins said. “Anxiety has gone way up.”

The situation comes amid an alarming surge in new coronavirus infections nationwide, driven by the Delta variant.

The US registered more than 150,000 new cases on Sept. 15, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the country has added more than 100,000 cases nearly every day since early August.

In the backdrop of this, Perkins lamented Ohio’s “very polarized” atmosphere toward the subject of mask mandates, and that young people’s voices have too often been left out of the conversation: “I don’t think that young people have ever been asked at all what they think about the mask mandates.”

Mask mandates have been a major political flashpoint across the US

A deep schism about mask-wearing in the classroom has emerged across the United States in recent months.

Some parents and Republican political leaders have vigorously opposed forcing students to wear masks in the classroom. Meanwhile, supporters of mask mandates counter that it’s the easiest way to slow the spread of the coronavirus in schools and among vulnerable or unvaccinated populations, such as older individuals or students under the age of 12.

Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Oklahoma are among states that have prohibited mask mandates at schools, while 25 states have no policy in place one way or another, according to a review of states’ policies by US News & World Report.

States’ patchwork public health policies have fanned the flames of stress and confusion for young people – many of whom are fearful of the virus’ effects or wary of passing it on to family members – according to four adolescent mental health providers interviewed by Insider.

“When you have an environment where the leadership has not made it clear that masking is required, we tend to see more difficulty,” Shayla Sullivant, a psychiatrist who specializes in children and adolescent care at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, told Insider.

“Some young people who are trying to stick with wearing masks in an environment where that is not the norm have really struggled,” Sullivant added. “It’s hard as a teenager, as a child, to be different from others – and it’s also hard to take on that added risk of exposure.”

Some students fear bringing the virus home with them

Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker in Marathon, Florida, told Insider that she’s observed “some kids who are very concerned” about falling ill with COVID-19.

“Some kids are more concerned about spreading it to family members – kids who live with a grandparent or have somebody who is going to be more susceptible to getting sick. Kids are really nervous about that,” Morin said.

A significant number of parents share kids’ concerns.

Half of parents in the US said that they wanted their children to attend classes virtually this fall due to coronavirus-related fears, according to survey responses collected between late July and early August which were published earlier this month by the National Parent Teacher Association.

And more than four in ten (41%) high school teachers expressed concern that students’ anxieties about returning to the classroom in-person could have a “tremendous impact” on their learning experiences, a survey from the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health found.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 5 million kids have tested positive for COVID-19, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

Cases among kids have exploded at the same moment that schools have reopened. The AAP said that more than 243,000 cases had been diagnosed among children in the first week of September alone.

‘Underneath it, it’s that they’re anxious and trying to cope’

Sarah Flier, a school counselor in Wisconsin who works with students between ages 4 and 11, has witnessed the effects on her students.

About eight or nine parents have reached out to her so far this school year with concerns over their children’s anxiety, she told Insider. Some of these students are as young as kindergarteners.

Describing their behavioral symptoms, she said: “It can be being easily frustrated. It can be running and hiding. It can be not wanting to come in the building, crying because they’re missing mom, a lot of homesickness.”

“It’s a lot of defiance and refusal too, which, to your average adult looks really disrespectful,” she added. “Underneath it, it’s that they’re anxious and trying to cope.”

‘I just take it as a major insult’

Seventeen-year-old Matt Chowansky has upgraded his sanitation routine since the start of this school year.

When the 12th grader at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, New Jersey, returns home each afternoon, he takes a shower, hoping it will rinse the virus away.

He ducks into the bathroom in between classes to wash his hands, which can become dry with frequent washing. And before each period begins, he wipes down his desk in class with an antimicrobial wipe, all in the effort to minimize his chances of getting sick.

For students like Chowansky, the return of the school year means being on alert for COVID-19. And while New Jersey schools have a mask mandate in place, Chowansky said that students who brazenly disregard mask-wearing are his ultimate source of consternation.

“It’s kind of insulting to people who genuinely are scared of coronavirus. I just take it as a major insult,” he said. “My message for people who are wearing masks is: Keep wearing masks. And if you don’t wear a mask, you really need to – and you just really need to be a part of the community.”

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Taliban says boys can re-enter secondary school but does not mention girls

Taliban CIA base
Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stand beside damaged and discarded vehicles parked near the destroyed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in Deh Sabz district northeast of Kabul on September 6, 2021 after the US pulled all its troops out of the country.

  • Boys started secondary school on Saturday without their female classmates.
  • A decree issued Friday by the Taliban called on boys to resume their classes but made no mention of girls.
  • The Taliban said they want to set up a “secure transportation system” before allowing girls into secondary school.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Afghan girls on Saturday did not return to secondary school as classrooms reopened for the first time since Kabul fell to the Taliban.

On Friday, the Taliban instructed boys to return to school but omitted girls from the decree.

“All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,” a statement from the Taliban education ministry said. This included boys in grades seven through 12.

A Taliban spokesperson on Saturday said girls aren’t banned from attending secondary school. The Taliban first wants to set up a “secure transportation system” for its female students, a spokesperson told CNN.

“There are certain rules during their class time that must be obeyed that they could be safe and sound,” Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said.

“We do have girls in universities continuing their education both in private and government-funded universities, but from grade 6 to 12 we are currently trying to provide a chance for them to carry on, and that’s in progress,” Mujahid added.

The decree is the latest development in women’s rights and education in Afghanistan, which fell to the Taliban swiftly last month after the US announced the departure of all its troops from the area.

In its takeover, the Taliban renamed the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, reverting back to the same name used during the last time the regime was in power from 1996 to 2001.

Under the Taliban’s rule at that time, women were severely oppressed, facing restrictions like being barred from working or attending schools. This time around, the militant group has promised to respect women’s rights “within Islamic law.” But human rights activists, Afghan women, and the White House have been skeptical of the Taliban’s vow.

Earlier this month, the Taliban said women are allowed to study in universities as long as they wear Islamic dress and classrooms are segregated by gender.

If girls are not given the opportunity to attend secondary school in Afghanistan, the edict to allow women to obtain higher education might be rendered meaningless.

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