Start investing in mutual funds in 4 steps

Investing Basics: how to invest in mutual funds featuring a laptop with two line charts and buy/sell buttons in the background
Mutual funds are a great way to build a diversified portfolio while minimizing costs.

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  • You can start investing in mutual funds through goal planning and choosing between active or passive investing strategy.
  • Mutual funds are typically actively managed, but there are passive mutual funds like index funds.
  • When you invest in mutual funds be aware of sales loads and expense ratios fees, which can add up.
  • Visit Insider’s Investing Reference library for more stories.

Investing your money can help you turn one dollar into many more, giving you the ability to build wealth without having to work harder. Thanks to compound interest and a variety of investment vehicles, you can decide where to put your money.

One type of investment vehicle that can help diversify your money is a mutual fund, which gets money from investors and pools it together into a fund. These funds invest in various securities like stocks, bonds, and short-term debt. Mutual funds are often actively managed, but not always.

Here’s how to get started investing in mutual funds.

Step 1: Look at your finances and goals

Before you get started with investing in mutual funds, it’s important to first review your current income, expenses, monthly debt obligations, and net worth to see where you’re at financially.

You wouldn’t build a house without laying a proper foundation – and the same goes with your finances. Having an emergency fund and manageable debt are important if you want to invest. Why? Because investing is risky, no matter how you look at it. There are ways to minimize your risk by figuring out your risk tolerance, but it’s crucial you have that financial foundation and safety net set up.

Knowing where your finances are at now can inform how much you can afford to invest and what your asset allocation should be based on your risk tolerance.

On top of that, consider your short- and long-term goals when investing, too. Will this be used for a down payment in five years? Or for your retirement in 30 years? Knowing your goals and having a rough timeline can ensure that you stay on track and know why you’re investing in the first place.

Step 2: Research types of mutual funds

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a mutual fund is an open-end investment company that is registered with the SEC and gathers money together from various investors to put into asset classes like stocks, bonds, and more.

When you invest in mutual funds, you end up purchasing shares of the mutual fund that reflects partial ownership of the total portfolio.

“Mutual funds are baskets of various stocks with a common theme behind them, such as ‘US Equities Growth Fund’ or ‘Sustainable Developed Markets Fund.’ They usually have a net asset value, which is determined once per day, unlike stock prices that fluctuate during the day in the markets,” explains Gary Grewal, a Certified Financial Planner and author of “Financial Fives: The Top 325 Ways to Save, Earn, and Thrive to Retire Before 65.”

There are many different types of mutual funds that you can invest in:

  • Stock funds: These invest in a company’s stock. There are some nuances within stock funds, including those that focus on investing in a company’s stock, growth-focused stocks based on financial returns, income-focused stocks that produce dividend payouts, stock funds based on certain sectors, as well as index funds that track specific indexes and seek to produce similar results.
  • Bond funds: This is a type of investment company that’s focused investing in bonds and debt securities. The risk related to bonds can differ depending on the bond. As an investor, the SEC recommends that you consider the credit risk if the bond issuer fails to pay back debt, how interest rate fluctuations will affect the value of a bond fund, as well as prepayment risk and what will happen if the bond issuer pays back the bond earlier than anticipated.
  • Money market funds: These have the least risk and invest only in particular investments that are issued by the US government or corporations.
  • Target-date funds: These contain a combination of stocks and bonds that aim to help you retire by a certain date, called target-date funds. They can also be referred to as lifecycle funds as well. The asset allocation will shift over time depending on the overall goal.

In many cases, mutual funds are actively managed by an investment professional. But it’s possible to invest passively in mutual funds as well, typically called an index fund. Also: mutual funds can be index funds – and vice versa.

Actively managed mutual funds work with a professional manager whose main goal is to help you beat the market. They do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to choosing securities to invest in and review the performance.

Passively managed funds like index funds have an objective to match the results of a particular index and don’t have a professional manager. As such, it’s a passive way to invest as there’s no outside help. No outside help typically means lowers costs.

In order to diversify your investments, you’ll want to invest in various types of mutual funds and not just one type in a specific sector.

Step 3: Choose a passive or active strategy

After researching the various types of mutual funds out there, you want to be clear about whether you want to have a passive or active strategy.

Actively managed mutual funds are costlier, as they are rife with fees, can take a chunk out of your investments, and may also lead to tax events.

For example, there may be mutual fund distributions that you need to report and pay taxes on. When you invest in mutual funds, you can get capital gains distributions as well as dividend payments. This could be a good thing, but there may also be tax implications.

Depending on what your mutual fund manager does, it could lead to higher taxes because of the difference in holdings.

When you sell an asset, you’re expected to pay capital gains taxes if you hold the asset for longer than a year and there is an increase in value. If you hold it less than that, you’ll be taxed at the ordinary income rate, which is higher (which can be up to 37% compared to 20%).

Passively managed mutual funds, such as index funds, seek to replicate market returns of a particular index, such as the ever-popular S&P 500. They are more affordable for investors since there are lower fees as there’s not an entity that is managing the investment, as you’re managing it yourself.

“Active funds typically come with higher expense ratios and may even come with a sales charge. Active means there are human portfolio managers whose job is to manage the investments within the mutual fund to try and beat the market,” explains Grewal.

In many cases, actively managed funds don’t actually outperform passively managed funds in the long run.

“Multiple studies have shown over time it’s very hard to beat the market, so passive funds such as those that track the S&P 500 Index may be a better choice for those concerned about fees, as passive funds have expense ratios that are typically much lower than their active counterparts,” says Grewal.

To consider the impact and costs you can use the Fund Analyzer tool by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA. You can also look at the mutual fund’s prospectus to get a breakdown of fees, risks, and overall performance. For both active and passive mutual funds, you also want to consider the expense ratio, which includes costs related to managing your account.

Step 4: Invest in mutual funds

After researching types of mutual funds and choosing a strategy, you want to get started investing in mutual funds.

“One can easily invest in mutual funds via their workplace retirement plan, IRA, or opening a brokerage account through Fidelity, Schwab, and Vanguard,” notes Grewal.

When you invest in mutual funds, you purchase shares from a brokerage or from the actual fund. How much you end up paying will vary based on the sales charge or sales load as well as the fund’s net asset value per share. You may be able to invest in mutual funds that don’t have a sales load associated with them as well.

Related Article Module: The best online brokerages for investors of all kinds, from kids to pros

To get started, choose a brokerage or company to invest in mutual funds. You can check out some popular options such as Fidelity, Vanguard, Charles Schwab, and Etrade. Before opening an account, be sure to review the prospectus and any fine print and also consider:

  • Any account minimums required
  • Usability of website and mobile app options
  • Funds that are available
  • Total costs such as sales load and expense ratio

After you open an account with a brokerage, deposit money into the account and then select the mutual fund you want to buy and purchase shares. Create a plan to add funds on a regular basis, such as each month, and review your performance as you go to see if any changes should be made.

The financial takeaway

If you want to get started investing in mutual funds, the main things to be aware of are active versus passive strategies and the costs that can come with each choice. Your choice will determine how much you pay and also if you take a hands-on or hands-off approach.

Investing in mutual funds can be an easy way to diversify your portfolio and also offer a straightforward redemption process if you want to redeem your shares.

5-step beginner’s guide to investing in index fundsA CFP is an advisor armed with extensive education and ethical standards to help you manage your moneyUnderstanding what qualified dividends are why they’re taxed at lower ratesHow to invest in dividend stocks, a low-risk source of investment income

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The 10 best translated books on the National Book Awards’ 2021 longlist

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Collage of the national book awards translated books 4x3
The National Book Awards’ longlist for best translated books includes international titles that were originally published in Spanish, Chinese, French, Korean, Arabic, German, and Russian.

  • The National Book Awards translated literature longlist for 2021 was recently announced.
  • The books were originally published in 7 different languages including Spanish, French, and Chinese.
  • Want more books? Check out the 2021 National Book Award longlists for fiction and poetry.

The best translated literature in 2021, according to the National Book Award’s panel of five judges, spans both the globe and genres.

The judges announced the translated literature longlist this week, which celebrated international works that were originally published in seven different languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.

The books span a multitude of genres too, from fictional short stories to creative nonfiction. In Nona Fernández’s “The Twilight Zone“, a member of the Chilean secret police walks into a dissident magazine office and confesses to some of the worst crimes committed under the Pinochet dictatorship, kicking off the narrator’s lifelong obsession with “the man who tortured people.” “An Inventory of Losses” catalogs 12 extinct things – from tigers to islands – while “In Memory of Memory” examines the fallibility and impact of memory, lore, and national history. And history and mythology blend together as a woman named Xiumi campaigns for autonomy in Ge Fei’s “Peach Blossom Paradise” during China’s Hundred Days’ Reform.

Below, you’ll find all 10 titles that made it onto the 2021 translated literature longlist. The shortlist of the top five will come out on October 5, and the winner will be announced on November 17.

The 10 books on the 2021 National Book Award longlist for translated literature:

Descriptions are provided by Amazon and edited lightly for length and clarity.

“Waiting for the Waters to Rise” by ​​Maryse Condé and translated from French by Richard Philcox

waiting for the waters to rise

“Waiting for the Waters to Rise” by ​​Maryse Condé and translated from French by Richard Philcox, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $15.63

Babakar is a doctor living alone, with only the memories of his childhood in Mali. In his dreams, he receives visits from his blue-eyed mother and his ex-lover Azelia, both now gone, as are the hopes and aspirations he’s carried with him since his arrival in Guadeloupe. 

Until, one day, the child Anaïs comes into his life, forcing him to abandon his solitude. Anaïs’s Haitian mother died in childbirth, leaving her daughter destitute ― now Babakar is all she has, and he wants to offer this little girl a future. Together they fly to Haiti, a beautiful, mysterious island plagued by violence, government corruption, and rebellion. 

Once there, Babakar and his two friends, the Haitian Movar and the Palestinian Fouad, three different identities looking for a more compassionate world, begin a desperate search for Anaïs’s family.

“Winter in Sokcho” by Elisa Shua Dusapin and translated from French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

sokcho

“Winter in Sokcho” by Elisa Shua Dusapin and translated from French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $13.75

It’s winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, and beyond the beach, guns point out from the North’s watchtowers. A young French-Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: A French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape.

The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an “authentic” Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls and cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows ― the gaudy neon lights, the scars of war, the fish market where her mother works. As she’s pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen.

“Peach Blossom Paradise” by Ge Fei and translated from Chinese by Canaan Morse

peach blossom paradise

“Peach Blossom Paradise” by Ge Fei and translated from Chinese by Canaan Morse, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $16.51

In 1898, reformist intellectuals in China persuaded the young emperor that it was time to transform his sclerotic empire into a prosperous modern state. The Hundred Days’ Reform that followed was a moment of unprecedented change and extraordinary hope — brought to an abrupt end by a bloody military coup. Dashed expectations would contribute to the revolutionary turn that Chinese history would soon take, leading in time to the deaths of millions.

“Peach Blossom Paradise,” set at the time of the reform, is the story of Xiumi, the daughter of a wealthy landowner and former government official who falls prey to insanity and disappears. Days later, a man with a gold cicada in his pocket turns up at his estate and is inexplicably welcomed as a relative. This mysterious man has a great vision of reforging China as an egalitarian utopia, and he will stop at nothing to make it real.

It is his own plans, however, which come to nothing, and his “little sister” Xiumi is left to take up arms against a Confucian world in which women are chattel. Her campaign for change and her struggle to seize control over her own body are continually threatened by the violent whims of men who claim to be building paradise.

“The Twilight Zone” by Nona Fernández and translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer

the twilight zone

“The Twilight Zone” by Nona Fernández and translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $13.99

It is 1984 in Chile, in the middle of the Pinochet dictatorship. A member of the secret police walks into the office of a dissident magazine and finds a reporter, who records his testimony. 

The narrator of Nona Fernández’s mesmerizing and terrifying novel “The Twilight Zone” is a child when she first sees this man’s face on the magazine’s cover with the words “I Tortured People.” His complicity in the worst crimes of the regime and his commitment to speaking about them haunt the narrator into her adulthood and career as a writer and documentarian.

Like a secret service agent from the future, through extraordinary feats of the imagination, Fernández follows the “man who tortured people” to places that archives can’t reach, into the sinister twilight zone of history where morning routines, a game of chess, Yuri Gagarin, and the eponymous TV show of the novel’s title coexist with the brutal yet commonplace machinations of the regime.

Note: Author Nona Fernández and translator Natasha Wimmer were also made the National Book Award longlist in 2019 with “Space Invaders.

“On the Origin of Species and Other Stories” by Bo-Young Kim and translated from Korean by Joungmin Lee Comfort and Sora Kim-Russell

on the origin of species

“On the Origin of Species and Other Stories” by Bo-Young Kim and translated from Korean by Joungmin Lee Comfort and Sora Kim-Russell, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $16.39

Straddling science fiction, fantasy, and myth, the writings of award-winning author Bo-Young Kim have garnered a cult following in South Korea, where she is widely acknowledged as a pioneer and inspiration. 

“On the Origin of Species” makes available for the first time in English some of Kim’s most acclaimed stories, as well as an essay on science fiction. Her strikingly original, thought-provoking work teems with human and non-human beings, all of whom are striving to survive through evolution, whether biologically, technologically, or socially. Kim’s literature of ideas offers some of the most rigorous and surprisingly poignant reflections on posthuman existence being written today.

“When We Cease to Understand the World” by Benjamín Labatut and translated from Spanish by Adrian Nathan West

when we cease to understand the world

“When We Cease to Understand the World” by Benjamín Labatut and translated from Spanish by Adrian Nathan West, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $16.16

Fritz Haber, Alexander Grothendieck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger — these are some of the luminaries into whose troubled lives Benjamín Labatut thrusts the reader, showing us how they grappled with the most profound questions of existence. They have strokes of unparalleled genius, alienate friends and lovers, descend into isolation and insanity. Some of their discoveries reshape human life for the better; others pave the way to chaos and unimaginable suffering. The lines are never clear.

At a breakneck pace and with a wealth of disturbing detail, Labatut uses the imaginative resources of fiction to tell the stories of the scientists and mathematicians who expanded our notions of the possible.

Note: This book was also shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize.

“Rabbit Island: Stories” by Elvira Navarro and translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney

rabbit island

“Rabbit Island: Stories” by Elvira Navarro and translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $16.79

These 11 stories combine gritty surrealism with explosive interior meditations, traversing the fickle, often terrifying terrain between madness and freedom. In the title story, a so-called “non-inventor” brings snow-white rabbits to an island inhabited exclusively by birds, with horrific results.

In “Myotragus” a privileged man’s understanding of the world is violently disrupted by the sight of a creature long thought extinct. Elsewhere in these stories that map dingy hotel rooms, shape-shifting cities, and graveyards, an unsightly “paw” grows from a writer’s earlobe and a grandmother floats silently in the corner of the room.

“An Inventory of Losses” by Judith Schalansky and translated from German by Jackie Smith

inventory of losses

“An Inventory of Losses” by Judith Schalansky and translated from German by Jackie Smith, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $16.95

Each disparate object described in this book ― a Caspar David Friedrich painting, a species of tiger, a villa in Rome, a Greek love poem, an island in the Pacific ― shares a common fate: It no longer exists, except as the dead-end of a paper trail. Recalling the works of W. G. Sebald, Bruce Chatwin, or Rebecca Solnit, “An Inventory of Losses” is a beautiful evocation of 12 specific treasures that have been lost to the world forever, and, taken as a whole, opens mesmerizing new vistas of how we can think about extinction and loss.

With meticulous research and a vivid awareness of why we should care about these losses, Judith Schalansky, the acclaimed author of “Atlas of Remote Islands,” lets these objects speak for themselves: She ventriloquizes the tone of other sources, burrows into the language of contemporaneous accounts, and deeply interrogates the very notion of memory.

“In Memory of Memory” by Maria Stepanova and translated from Russian by Sasha Dugdale

in memory of memory

“In Memory of Memory” by Maria Stepanova and translated from Russian by Sasha Dugdale, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $16.91

With the death of her aunt, the narrator is left to sift through an apartment full of faded photographs, old postcards, letters, diaries, and heaps of souvenirs: A withered repository of a century of life in Russia. Carefully reassembled with calm, steady hands, these shards tell the story of how a seemingly ordinary Jewish family somehow managed to survive the myriad persecutions and repressions of the last century.

In dialogue with writers like Roland Barthes, W. G. Sebald, Susan Sontag, and Osip Mandelstam, “In Memory of Memory” is imbued with rare intellectual curiosity and a wonderfully soft-spoken, poetic voice. Dipping into various forms ― essay, fiction, memoir, travelogue, and historical documents ― Stepanova assembles a vast panorama of ideas and personalities and offers an entirely new and bold exploration of cultural and personal memory.

Note: This book was also shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize.

“Planet of Clay” by Samar Yazbek and translated from Arabic by Leri Price

planet of clay

“Planet of Clay” by Samar Yazbek and translated from Arabic by Leri Price, available on Amazon and Bookshop from $15.63

Rima, a young girl from Damascus, longs to walk, to be free to follow the will of her feet, but instead is perpetually constrained. Rima finds refuge in a fantasy world full of colored crayons, secret planets, and “The Little Prince,” reciting passages of the Qur’an like a mantra as everything and everyone around her is blown to bits. 

One day while taking a bus through Damascus, a soldier opens fire and her mother is killed. Rima, wounded, is taken to a military hospital before her brother leads her to the besieged area of Ghouta ― where, between bombings, she writes her story. In “Planet of Clay,” Samar Yazbek offers a surreal depiction of the horrors taking place in Syria, in vivid and poetic language and with a sharp eye for detail and beauty.

Note: Leri Price was previously recognized by the National Book Award in 2019 for translating “Death Is Hard Work” by Khaled Khalifa. 

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The 10 nonfiction books on the 2021 National Book Award longlist

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Diagonal pattern of non-fiction books on the National Book Award longlist
This year’s finalists for the National Book Award for nonfiction include books by Hanif Abdurraqib, Clint Smith, Grace M. Cho, and Heather McGhee.

  • The National Book Foundation recently published its longlist for the nonfiction National Book Award.
  • Find the complete 2021 longlist of the 10 best nonfiction titles below.
  • Want more books? Check out the 2021 National Book Award longlists for fiction and poetry.

Every summer since 1989, five National Book Award judges have spent long sunny days reviewing over 500 nonfiction books to determine the best US nonfiction books published that year.

Their top 10 are published in a longlist in September, narrowed to the top five in a shortlist in October. On November 17, one winner is awarded the National Book Award in nonfiction. Past winners include Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” Patti Smith’s memoir “Just Kids,” Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” and Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”

The winners receive $10,000, and finalists receive $1,000. Both can expect an uptick in book sales and prestige.

The 10 books on the 2021 National Book Award longlist for non-fiction:

Descriptions are provided by Amazon and edited lightly for length and clarity.

“A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance” by Hanif Abdurraqib

A Little Devil in America- Notes in Praise of Black Performance book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $15.99

At the March on Washington in 1963, Josephine Baker was 57 years old, well beyond her most prolific days. But in her speech, she was in a mood to consider her life, her legacy, and her departure from the country she was now triumphantly returning to. “I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too,” she told the crowd. 

Inspired by these few words, Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. Each moment in every performance he examines — whether it’s the 27 seconds in “Gimme Shelter” in which Merry Clayton wails the words “rape, murder,” a schoolyard fistfight, a dance marathon, or the instant in a game of spades right after the cards are dealt — has layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, the politics of American empire, and Abdurraqib’s own personal history of love, grief, and performance.

“Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains” by Lucas Bessire

Running Out- In Search of Water on the High Plains book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $19.69

The Ogallala aquifer has nourished life on the American Great Plains for millennia. But less than a century of unsustainable irrigation farming has taxed much of the aquifer beyond repair. 

Anthropologist Lucas Bessire journeyed back to western Kansas, where five generations of his family lived as irrigation farmers and ranchers, to try to make sense of this vital resource and its loss. His search for water across the drying High Plains brings the reader face to face with the stark realities of industrial agriculture, eroding democratic norms, and surreal interpretations of a looming disaster. Yet the destination is far from predictable, as the book seeks to move beyond the words and genres through which destruction is often known. Instead, this journey into the morass of eradication offers a series of unexpected discoveries about what it means to inherit the troubled legacies of the past and how we can take responsibility for a more inclusive, sustainable future.

“Tastes Like War: A Memoir” by Grace M. Cho

Tastes Like War book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $16.51

Grace M. Cho grew up as the daughter of a white American merchant marine and the Korean bar hostess he met abroad. They were one of few immigrants in a xenophobic small town during the Cold War, where identity was politicized by everyday details — language, cultural references, memories, and food. When Grace was 15, her dynamic mother experienced the onset of schizophrenia, a condition that would continue and evolve for the rest of her life.

Part food memoir, part sociological investigation, “Tastes Like War” is a hybrid text about a daughter’s search through intimate and global history for the roots of her mother’s schizophrenia. In her mother’s final years, Grace learned to cook dishes from her parent’s childhood in order to invite the past into the present, and to hold space for her mother’s multiple voices at the table. And through careful listening over these shared meals, Grace discovered not only the things that broke the brilliant, complicated woman who raised her — but also the things that kept her alive.

“The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice” by Scott Ellsworth

The Ground Breaking book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $21.49

And then they were gone.

More than 1,000 homes and businesses. Restaurants and movie theaters, churches and doctors’ offices, a hospital, a public library, a post office. Looted, burned, and bombed from the air. 

Over the course of less than 24 hours in the spring of 1921, Tulsa’s infamous “Black Wall Street” was wiped off the map — and erased from the history books. Official records disappeared, researchers were threatened, and the worst single incident of racial violence in American history was kept hidden for more than 50 years. But there were some secrets that would not die.

A riveting and essential new book, “The Ground Breaking” not only tells the long-suppressed story of the notorious Tulsa Race Massacre. It also unearths the lost history of how the massacre was covered up, and of the courageous individuals who fought to keep the story alive. Most importantly, it recounts the ongoing archaeological saga and the search for the unmarked graves of the victims of the massacre, and of the fight to win restitution for the survivors and their families.

“Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America” by Nicole Eustace

Covered with Night- A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $18.32

On the eve of a major treaty conference between Iroquois leaders and European colonists in the distant summer of 1722, two white fur traders attacked an Indigenous hunter and left him for dead near Conestoga, Pennsylvania. Though virtually forgotten today, this act of brutality set into motion a remarkable series of criminal investigations and cross-cultural negotiations that challenged the definition of justice in early America.

An absorbing chronicle built around an extraordinary group of characters — from the slain man’s resilient widow to the Indigenous diplomat known as “Captain Civility” to the scheming governor of Pennsylvania — “Covered with Night” transforms a single event into an unforgettable portrait of early America.

“The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together” by Heather McGhee

The Sum of Us- What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $20.90

What would make a society drain its public swimming baths and fill them with concrete rather than opening them to everyone? Economics researcher Heather McGhee sets out across America to learn why white voters so often act against their own interests. Why do they block changes that would help them, and even destroy their own advantages, whenever people of color also stand to benefit? Their tragedy is that they believe they can’t win unless somebody else loses. But this is a lie. 

McGhee marshals overwhelming economic evidence, and a profound well of empathy, to reveal the surprising truth: even racists lose out under white supremacy. And US racism is everybody’s problem. As McGhee shows, it was bigoted lending policies that laid the ground for the 2008 financial crisis. There can be little prospect of tackling global climate change until America’s zero-sum delusions are defeated. 

Note: This is set to be adapted as a Spotify Podcast series by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground.

“The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War” by Louis Menand

The Free World- Art and Thought in the Cold War book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $20.49

How did elitism and an anti-totalitarian skepticism of passion and ideology give way to a new sensibility defined by freewheeling experimentation and loving the Beatles? How was the ideal of “freedom” applied to causes that ranged from anti-communism and civil rights to radical acts of self-creation via art and even crime? 

With the wit and insight familiar to readers of “The Metaphysical Club” and his New Yorker essays, Menand takes us inside Hannah Arendt’s Manhattan, the Paris of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Merce Cunningham and John Cage’s residencies at North Carolina’s Black Mountain College, and the Memphis studio where Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley created new music for the American teenager. 

Stressing the rich flow of ideas across the Atlantic, he also shows how Europeans played a vital role in promoting and influencing American art and entertainment. By the end of the Vietnam era, the American government had lost the moral prestige it enjoyed at the end of the Second World War, but America’s once-despised culture had become respected and adored. With unprecedented verve and range, this book explains how that happened.

Note: Menand’s earlier book “The Metaphysical Club” won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002.

“All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake” by Tiya Miles

All That She Carried book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $24.99

In 1850s South Carolina, an enslaved woman named Rose faced a crisis, the imminent sale of her daughter Ashley. Thinking quickly, she packed a cotton bag with a few precious items as a token of love and to try to ensure Ashley’s survival. Soon after, the nine-year-old girl was separated from her mother and sold.

Decades later, Ashley’s granddaughter Ruth embroidered this family history on the bag in spare yet haunting language — including Rose’s wish that “It be filled with my Love always.” Ruth’s sewn words, the reason we remember Ashley’s sack today, evoke a sweeping family story of loss and of love passed down through generations. Now, in this illuminating, deeply moving new book inspired by Rose’s gift to Ashley, historian Tiya Miles carefully unearths these women’s faint presence in archival records to follow the paths of their lives — and the lives of so many women like them — to write a singular and revelatory history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward, in the United States.

“How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith

How the Word Is Passed book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $17.84

Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks — those that are honest about the past and those that are not — that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.

It is the story of the Monticello Plantation in Virginia, the estate where Thomas Jefferson wrote letters espousing the urgent need for liberty while enslaving more than four hundred people. It is the story of the Whitney Plantation, one of the only former plantations devoted to preserving the experience of the enslaved people whose lives and work sustained it. It is the story of Angola, a former plantation–turned–maximum-security prison in Louisiana that is filled with Black men who work across the 18,000-acre land for virtually no pay. And it is the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers.

A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, “How the Word Is Passed” illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view—whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted.

“The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship” by Deborah Willis

The Black Civil War Soldier book cover

Available at Amazon and Bookshop from $31.50

Though both the Union and Confederate armies excluded African American men from their initial calls to arms, many of the men who eventually served were Black. Simultaneously, photography culture blossomed ― marking the Civil War as the first conflict to be extensively documented through photographs. In The Black Civil War Soldier, Deb Willis explores the crucial role of photography in (re)telling and shaping African American narratives of the Civil War, pulling from a dynamic visual archive that has largely gone unacknowledged.

With over seventy images, “The Black Civil War Soldier” contains a huge breadth of primary and archival materials, many of which are rarely reproduced. The photographs are supplemented with handwritten captions, letters, and other personal materials; Willis not only dives into the lives of Black Union soldiers, but also includes stories of other African Americans involved with the struggle ― from left-behind family members to female spies. Willis thus compiles a captivating memoir of photographs and words and examines them together to address themes of love and longing; responsibility and fear; commitment and patriotism; and ― most predominantly ― African American resilience.

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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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25 anniversary gifts for her that are stylish, sweet, or offbeat

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Pattern of best anniversary gifts for her featuring gifts like the Apple Watch, and Food52 Bamboo Compost Bin
  • Shopping for an anniversary gift is tough, whether you’ve been together for one year or 20.
  • We’ve rounded up thoughtful and creative anniversary gifts for her.
  • From timeless jewelry to useful kitchen gadgets, here are gift ideas your partner will love.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Shopping for gifts, especially for anniversaries, can be difficult. Whether you want to give something sentimental or practical, we put together a list of anniversary gifts for her (or any partner) to make the thoughtful gesture a little easier.

We found gifts that you can do together, including a fun card game and a bubble tea kit you can make at home. If you want to give the gift of alone time, we recommend a New York Times best-selling mystery book or a nail-care kit.

For more inspiration, check out our guide to the best anniversary gifts and gifts for him.

Here are 25 anniversary gifts for her to celebrate your special day:

A wine subscription delivered to your door monthly

A Winc subscription box and four bottles of wine on a doormat

Monthly Wine Subscription, available at Winc, $59.95

Give the gift of personalized wine delivered to your doorstep once a month. It’s our top choice for wine subscription services, but we also have picks for beer lovers, cheese fans, and candy fanciers in our guide to the best subscription boxes

Read our full review of Winc here.

A nail kit for an at-home manicure

Image of blue cosmetic bag with various nail products

Ultimate Nail Care Set & Pouch, available at Uncommon Goods, $50

The Ultimate Nail Care set is a thoughtful gift for the partner who likes doing their nails, especially in the comfort of their home.

A table for serving wine on the patio

A lawn and two chairs with an Uncommon Goods wooden table with a hole for holding wine

Outdoor Wine Table, available at Uncommon Goods, $58

For wine lovers who like to picnic, this outdoor wine table sticks in the grass and holds a bottle of wine and two glasses.

A pair of shorts for hiking

Model wearing black Backcountry Mountain Hardwear Dynama Shorts and I tie-dyed sweatshirt against a white background

Mountain Hardwear Dynama Shorts, available at Backcountry, $59.99

For the partner who loves to spend time outdoors, these versatile and comfortable shorts from Backcountry are ideal for hiking, biking, running, or kayaking. 

An Apple Watch with the latest technology

Apple Watch Series 6
Apple Watch Series 6.

Apple Watch Series 6, available at Amazon, $349

Our top choice for the best Apple Watch, the Series 6, has new health and wellness capabilities, including blood oxygen saturation and fall detection.

A compost bin that will look good in your kitchen

Salmon colored terracotta-colored bamboo compost bin against a white background

Bamboo Compost bin, available at Food52, $50

For the environmentally conscious couple, this bamboo compost bin will look sleek and add a pop of color to your kitchen space.  

A kit for making bubble tea at home

A glass of bubble tea and the ingredients against a tan background with a metal straw laying in the foreground

Bubble Tea Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $38

Concoct a refreshing beverage at home using this bubble tea kit, which comes with two tea flavors and tapioca pearls. 

A pair of cozy slippers

Ashley Phillips's feet wearing brown Coquette Slippers

Women’s Coquette Slipper, available at Ugg, $120

You can’t go wrong with the gift of these luxuriously soft Ugg slippers to wear around the house. Read our reviews of the Coquette and more Ugg slippers here

A solid marble rolling pin

pizza dough being rolled with the Food 52 Marble Rolling Pin

Hawkins New York Marble Rolling Pin, available at Food52, $65

A marble rolling pin is visually appealing and helpful for rolling out pizza or cookie dough.

A travel bag for weekend trips

The boxy black Delsey Montrouge duffel against a white background

Montrouge duffel bag, available at Desley, $119.99

One of our favorite luggage brands, Delsey, makes the Montrouge duffel bag, which can be used for short getaways or as an extra carry-on bag for longer trips.

A set of skincare samplers

Sample-sized container of skincare products from Glossier

The Skincare Edit, available at Glossier, $50

Glossier is one of the most popular makeup and skincare brands. This gift set comes with several sample-sized skincare products, including a moisturizer, cleanser, serum, and more.

A hilarious card game to play together

exploding kittens board game box, rules and cards on a white background

Exploding Kittens, available at Amazon, $19.82

For the couple that loves card or board games, Exploding Kittens is a hilarious animal-themed game.

A New York Times best-selling mystery book

'The Last Thing he Told Me' by Laura Dave book cover

The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel, available at Amazon, $12.92

For the partner who is also a book worm, “The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel” by Laura Dave is a thrilling mystery novel that appeared on Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club list. We have lots of other great recommendations for gifts to give as books, too.

A floral embroidered throw blanket

A black throw blanket with red flowers against a white background

Rifle Paper Co. Luxembourg Embroidered Throw, available at Rifle Paper Co., $170

Rifle Paper Co. is known for its florals, and this embroidered throw blanket is no exception with its delicate pattern of flowers.

A smart meat thermometer

Bluetooth meat thermometer next to cooked steak on a white background

Meater Plus With Bluetooth Repeater, available at Meater, $99

Give the gift of a gadget that makes it easier to cook meat. The Meater Plus is a wireless meat thermometer that will give you accurate temperatures for your favorite meat dishes.  

A timeless gold bangle

A person’s wrist wearing a gold bracelet and rings

14K Gold Thin Bangle, available at Valerie Madison, $335

Understated yet elegant, this bangle from Valerie Madison is a gorgeous piece of jewelry to give as a gift.

An elegant jewelry box

A grey jewelry box sitting on a tabletop

Grand Lacquer Jewelry Box, available at West Elm, $250

If you gave your partner a necklace or bracelet for your last anniversary, a timeless jewelry box is the perfect follow-up gift. Plus, you can personalize the box with a monogram.

A stunning silver-and-turquoise ring

A hand with a silver and turquoise ring on a finger

Blue Ridge Turquoise & Sterling Silver Ring, available at Ahlazua, $120

Simple yet beautiful, the Blue Ridge turquoise and sterling silver ring is from Ahlazua, an Indigenous- and woman-owned jewelry company. 

A sleek electric kettle

Matte black electric kettle on a counter with a wooden block in the background

Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Pour-Over Kettle, available at Crate & Barrel, $149.95

For the partner who is an avid tea or pour-over coffee drinker, the Fellow Stagg electric kettle is functional and visually appealing on any countertop.

Body oil for anyone

A bottle containing Noto Botanics Agender Oil next to the box it comes in against a white background with shadows

Agender Oil, available at Noto, $44

Noto has a variety of products for everyday use for everyone. Its Agender Oil works for both hair and body.

A box of succulents

Someone holding open a cardboard box with four green succulents

The Original Botany Box, available at Botany Box, $58

The Original Botany Box comes with four easy-to-care-for succulents and instructions for your new plants.

A custom set of colorful wine glasses

two rows of estelle colored wine glasses on a white shelf

Colored Wine Stemware set of 6, available at Estelle, $190

Create a custom set of six colorful wine glasses from Estelle. They come in 17 different colors, including lavender, black, and royal blue. 

A set of luxurious towels

Multicolored earth tones Hydrocotton Organic Quick-Dry Towels from Pottery Barn

Hydrocotton Organic Quick-Dry Towels, available at Pottery Barn, $29.50

In our roundup of the best bath towels, the Hydrocotton Organic towels from Pottery Barn are our favorite quick-dry bath towels and are particularly fluffy and soft.

A custom puzzle of a favorite photo

A custom circle puzzle depicting a child on regular and heart shaped pieces

Shutterfly Photo Gallery Keepsake Puzzle, available at Shutterfly, $29.99

If you’re looking for a personalized gift, a puzzle of your favorite photo together is both thoughtful and sentimental. 

A recipe book to up your cocktail-making game

Batch Cocktails front cover with an image of several cups filled with and orange liquid

Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion, available at ECOVIBE, $19.99

Celebrate at home together using the recipe book “Batch Cocktails.”

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The best streaming services you can sign up for in 2021

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Best streaming service 4x3
The best streaming services include on-demand, live TV, and channel-specific apps.

  • Streaming services provide an alternative to cable TV, offering movies and shows online for a fee.
  • There are three main streaming service categories: on-demand, live TV, and channel-specific.
  • Which streaming service is best for your needs will largely depend on your budget and taste in shows.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Viewers now have more places to watch their favorite movie and shows than ever. Choosing the right streaming service for your home entertainment setup will depend on a number of factors, including your budget, which exclusive programs you like the most, how many screens you want to watch on, and more.

Netflix and Hulu have grown from startups to industry juggernauts, while major studios have entered the market with services like Disney Plus, HBO Max, Peacock, and Paramount Plus.

To help you decide what to sign up for, we rounded up the best streaming services of 2021. Our picks primarily focus on on-demand platforms like Netflix and Hulu, but we also included separate sections for live TV and specialty streaming channels.

Here are the best streaming services:

Netflix

watching netflix

With its exclusive shows and incredible 4K quality, Netflix continues to set the streaming standard for the competition.

Pros: Fantastic library of originals, industry-leading video quality, impressive app support, special interface for kids, no commercials

Cons: Slightly more expensive than the competition, movie selection pales in comparison to newer services

Netflix has spent the last few years producing a growing collection of original programming, including exclusive movies, ongoing TV series, documentaries, and comedy specials. Netflix Originals keep subscribers invested when their favorite classic show or movie leaves the platform for another service. 

The success of Netflix exclusives, like “Bridgerton,” “Stranger Things,” “The Witcher,” and “Tiger King,” has helped the service justify its slightly higher price, and encouraged streaming competitors to prioritize creating their own original titles to generate more value. 

Netflix also has a large library of children’s series and a separate interface designed to let kids choose their own shows without running into adult programming, making it a good choice for families in need of all-ages entertainment.

When it comes to app support, Netflix is available on virtually any streaming device you can think of, including computers, smartphones, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, smart TVs, and more. It also offers support for all of the latest video and audio formats, including 4K, HDR, and Dolby Atmos — though it does charge extra for those features.

Product Card (small)Monthly Subscription (small)
Hulu

Hulu app on android mobile screen

Thanks to a mix of content and various plans, Hulu remains one of the most affordable streaming options with unmatched choice.

Pros: On-demand library with live TV option, can subscribe to “channels” like HBO, discounted bundle with Disney Plus and ESPN+

Cons: Harder to share due to two-device limit on Basic plan, Basic plan includes commercials

Hulu offers two main packages that provide on-demand streaming, including a Basic option with commercials and a Premium plan without commercials. The service also offers upgrade packages that add live TV channels.

Hulu arguably boasts the most impressive TV show library of any on-demand streaming service, with a wider range of new and classic shows than Netflix or Amazon. This includes next-day streaming access to select broadcast series on networks like ABC, FX, and Fox. Hulu also offers a solid selection of original shows, like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but its slate of exclusives isn’t quite as notable as some of its competitors.

Though Hulu does offer 4K and HDR streaming on select devices, its 4K lineup is limited compared to Netflix, Amazon, and Disney Plus. 

Hulu allows only two devices to stream at the same time, but you can remove that limit with Hulu + Live TV subscription and the $10 add-on for unlimited screens. Hulu also lets subscribers add other channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz for an extra monthly price. 

You can even bundle Hulu with Disney Plus and ESPN+ for a 30% discount on the monthly price of all three. Subscribers should be aware, however, that Hulu will be raising the price of its Basic and Premium plans by $1 starting October 8.

Streaming Service (small)Bundle Monthly Subscription (small)
Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video is a capable, competitive streaming service that’s more than just a Prime membership perk.

Pros: Included with Amazon Prime, offers extra movie rental and purchase options, lots of international titles, can add streaming channels, 4K HDR support is included in base plan

Cons: The Prime Video library is less impressive than the competition

More than 110 million Amazon Prime members help make Prime Video the second largest on-demand service in terms of subscribers, even if they’re not all streaming video on a regular basis. 

Prime Video features a mix of movies and shows that are provided for free with membership, including original titles like “The Boys” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” You can also rent or buy just about any film that’s available on home video for your personal collection and watch with the Prime Video app whenever you like. This is a feature that most subscription streaming apps don’t offer.

Prime Video has launched several award-winning original shows since 2013 and has successfully imported dozens of series from the BBC, as well as Hindi language films from India. The platform offers up to 4K streaming with support for HDR10+ playback on select titles. And, unlike Netflix, it doesn’t charge extra to get the best video and audio quality.

Though Prime Video is included with a Prime Membership, you can subscribe to the service on its own for $9 a month if you prefer. You can also sign up for add-on channels to other services, like Showtime, AMC Plus, and even Paramount Plus.

Product Card (small)Prime Monthly Subscription (small)
Disney Plus

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Disney Plus is the top streaming choice for families and fans of blockbuster franchises like Marvel and ‘Star Wars.’

Pros: Disney’s vault of classic movies and shows, 4K HDR, blockbuster Marvel and “Star Wars” titles

Cons: Lack of mature content limits the platform’s potential, library of original shows is still small compared to the competition

Disney Plus is the fastest growing streaming service on the market, having amassed more than 100 million subscribers since its launch in November 2019. The platform is the sole subscription streaming home of Disney’s classic animated films, as well as franchises like “Star Wars” and “The Simpsons.”

With that in mind, the main draw of the service is its wide catalog of existing Disney, “Star Wars,” Marvel, and Pixar movies and shows. There are some original films and series as well, but the lineup remains small compared to Netflix and Amazon. 

It’s also important to note that Disney Plus is designed to be family-oriented, so even Disney’s hit exclusive shows, like “The Mandalorian” and “Loki,” are rated for teen viewers. Movies are also limited to PG-13 so you won’t find any R-rated content here.

That said, at $8 a month with no commercials, Disney Plus might offer the best combination of titles, streaming quality, and value. With an endless supply of family-friendly entertainment, Disney Plus is a popular choice for parents, but adults who didn’t grow up on Disney or “Star Wars” may want to find a second streaming service to fill their palette with more mature shows.

On that note, you can bundle Disney Plus with Hulu and ESPN+ for $14 a month. The bundle saves you about $7 a month compared to signing up for each service separately. 

Product Card (small)Bundle Monthly Subscription (small)
HBO Max

HBO Max app logo

HBO Max is a premium service for fans of prestige television, iconic films, and the latest movie releases.

Pros: Prestige shows and films, day-and-date streaming for Warner Bros. theatrical releases, collections from Adult Swim, TCM, Sesame Street, and more

Cons: More expensive than most competitors, only a few 4K titles so far

HBO Max combines critically acclaimed shows and movies from HBO’s cable network with new originals, additional WarnerMedia films, classic shows like “Friends,” and collections from channels like Adult Swim, TCM, DC Universe, and the anime streaming service Crunchyroll.

Like the cable channel, HBO Max prides itself on having some of the best movies recently released on home video. HBO exclusive shows, like “Lovecraft Country,” “Succession” and “Watchmen,” continue to define prestige television and HBO Max is the best way to catch up on past hits like “The Wire” and “Game of Thrones.”

New episodes of “Sesame Street” are the highlight of HBO Max’s family offerings; there’s not a ton of educational content for young children, but there’s enough to satisfy kids for a few hours on an indoor afternoon.

Perhaps best of all, HBO Max is home to brand-new Warner Bros. movies the same day they premiere in theaters. “Wonder Woman 1984” was the first titled released like this, and the upcoming lineup includes “The Matrix 4,” “Dune,” and more. 

For now, the biggest drawbacks of HBO Max are technology related. Outside of the new Warner releases, HBO Max doesn’t offer much support for 4K or HDR yet, limiting the quality of some movies and shows. For example, “Game of Thrones” is available in 4K on Blu-ray, but HBO Max streams are limited to 1080p.

Product Card (small)Max (ad-supported) (small)
Paramount Plus

Paramount Plus streaming

Paramount Plus is a fantastic destination for classic cable TV shows, with potential for even more value in the future.

Pros: Huge library of classic TV shows, live CBS with Premium plan, new Paramount films 45 days after theater release

Cons: Less exclusive content than the competition

Paramount Plus is a new on-demand streaming service from ViacomCBS, replacing CBS All Access. The platform gives viewers access to the live CBS TV channel (Premium Plan only), along with a large collection of TV shows and movies. 

In addition to CBS series, Paramount Plus draws programming from Viacom cable channels like MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. Paramount Plus is also home to exclusive content like a reboot of “iCarly” and several “Star Trek” shows.

The streaming service hosts newly released Paramount movies as soon as 45 days after they hit theaters. “A Quiet Place Part II” was the first film to get an early release on the service. “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run” was a launch title for Paramount Plus, and “Mission Impossible 7” is due out next year.

Sports fans can also tune into local NFL games broadcast on CBS, as well as UEFA matches and March Madness matchups when each season is in session. 

Premium Monthly Plan (ad-free) (small)Essential Monthly Plan (ad-supported) (small)
Peacock

peacock browse

With free and premium streaming options, Peacock is a convenient source for hit TV shows and movie nostalgia.

Pros: Free to watch many shows and movies, live news and sporting events

Cons: Premium plan doesn’t offer many exclusives, movie library lacks newer releases, no 4K or HDR support

Peacock is the free-to-watch streaming home for NBCUniversal shows like “30 Rock,” “Cheers,” and “The Office,” as well as some new original titles. The service also offers a rotating slate of hit movies. Though few of the choices are less than 10-years old, Peacock has dozens of memorable films.

Peacock’s base plan is free but it offers a limited library and it’s ad-supported. If you want access to all of the platform’s content you can pay $5 a month, but this plan still features commercials. To unlock everything with ad-free access, you need to pay $10 a month for the Peacock Premium Plus plan.

Starting in 2022, the service will stream brand-new Universal movies within four months of their theatrical releases. Select movies also debut on Peacock at the same time they premiere in theaters, like “The Boss Baby: Family Business” and “Halloween Kills.”

Peacock has some live news and sports broadcasts as well. In April, the service became the exclusive streaming home of WWE Network, and it streamed highlights from the 2021 Olympics.

Peacock doesn’t stream in 4K resolution, though given the platform’s emphasis on television and older films, the 1080p limit isn’t a huge drawback.

Premium (Monthly Plan) (small)Premium (Annual Plan) (small)
Apple TV Plus

Apple TV Plus on iPhone and Macbook
It’s possible to cancel your Apple TV Plus subscription using different Apple devices.

Apple TV Plus has a limited lineup, but its cheap price makes it a solid option for fans of its exclusive shows.

Pros: Affordable price, exclusive shows, movie rental and purchase options, can add streaming channels, 4K HDR support

Cons: The lineup of movies and shows is small compared to other services

Apple TV Plus is one of the most affordable streaming services you can subscribe to. The platform costs just $5 a month for ad-free access to its entire lineup of on-demand movies and shows.

While that’s an attractive price, the Apple TV Plus library is relatively small compared to competing platforms like Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu. Most notably, the service lacks a large back catalog of movies and shows from other networks and studios. That said, there are some standout exclusive series like “Ted Lasso,” “The Morning Show,” and the docuseries “The Me You Can’t See.” 

Like Prime Video, Apple TV Plus also lets you access a huge library of additional movies and shows that you can pay to rent or purchase. Though it would be great to have more programs included as part of your subscription, being able to order more titles within the Apple TV Plus app is convenient. You can also add extra channels to your subscription, like Showtime, for an extra fee.

If you’re someone who plans to use other Apple services, you should also consider the Apple One bundle. The base package includes Apple TV Plus, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage for $15 a month.  

TV Plus (Monthly Plan) (small)Subscription (small)
The best live TV streaming services

Furbo

Live TV streaming services are marketed as a cheaper alternative to cable or satellite, offering tighter channel packages for potential “cord cutters.” However, prices have gone up in this space, reducing the cost benefit that streaming has over traditional TV.

That said, in many cases you can still save with certain services, but choosing the right package is essential for getting the most out of these platforms, so you’ll want to figure out which TV stations are your must-haves before you choose a provider.

If you plan to use a live TV streaming service to replace cable on multiple TVs in your home, be prepared to pay a bit extra so you can stream simultaneously on separate devices. Also, keep in mind that these TV services have the same commercials and general experience as cable even though they’re broadcast online.

Streaming quality can vary from channel to channel, but they all typically maintain 720p or 1080p resolution. Again, you’ll want to check the specific channel packages and other perks offered by each service to figure out which is best for you.

Here’s a rundown of the leading live TV services available now:

Sling TVSling TV offers two different packages, Sling Blue and Sling Orange, for $35 a month each, or for $50 a month bundled together.

Sling Blue offers streaming on up to three devices and more channels, including MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, and the NFL Network. Sling Orange offers Disney channel and the ESPN family of channels, but only allows one streaming device at a time. You can find a full breakdown of Sling channels here.

Getting the bundle makes the most sense, since you’ll get the full set of channels and features for $15 extra. It’s worth noting that Sling viewers can’t access their local ABC or CBS affiliates, so if you want those channels, you should look to another service or an antenna.

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Hulu + Live TVHulu’s Live TV plan costs $65 a month for access to around 75 channels. You need to pay for an upgrade to stream on more than two devices at the same time, however, and it also costs extra if you want more than 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage. On the plus side, Hulu + Live TV includes Hulu’s on-demand service, so you get a bit more value there.

The base bundle includes all the major local networks in most markets, the ESPN family of channels, Fox and NBC Sports channels, and SEC Network. However, the service lacks access to the NFL Network, NBA TV, and the MLB Network, all of which are standard for YouTube TV. 

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Fubo TVFuboTV starts at $65 a month for over 100 channels, 250 hours of cloud DVR space, and streaming on up to three devices. Unlike most of its competitors, Fubo charges extra for sports channels like the SEC Network, NBA TV, and the MLB Network. Local channels are included at no additional cost.

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YouTube TVYouTube TV costs $65 a month for more than 85 channels with unlimited cloud DVR storage and streaming on up to three devices at once. YouTubeTV includes more sports channels in its base package than its competitors, including ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, the NFL Network, NBA TV, and the MLB Network.

YouTubeTV is also the only live TV streaming service currently offering PBS alongside local affiliate networks from CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC.

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DirecTV Stream (formerly AT&T TV)Starting at $70 a month for a no-contract plan, DirecTV TV provides more pricing and package options than most live TV streaming competitors — the service offers nearly every channel, but like standard cable, it can be hard to get all the channels you want in a cheap bundle.

Because DirecTV Stream comes from AT&T, which is HBO Max’s parent company, most of the packages also include an HBO Max subscription, which would cost $15 a month separately.

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Philo TV Philo TV is the most affordable option at $25 a month for 60+ channels. Unfortunately, Philo viewers don’t have access to their local affiliate networks, and the service doesn’t offer many upgrade options for watching sports or cable news. It does offer popular channels like Comedy Central, MTV, and AMC, though, so there’s still plenty to watch.

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The best streaming channels

Best ESPN+ Exclusive Programming 4x3

Some streaming services act as an online portal for access to a specific channel. If you want to watch Showtime, for instance, but don’t want to subscribe through a cable provider, you can simply sign up for the network’s standalone streaming option. Some of these channel-specific platforms also include exclusive content you can’t find anywhere else.

In many cases, these types of streaming channels can also be added to existing platforms, like Hulu and Prime Video, while others are exclusive to certain devices and services. Be sure to check if the channel you want is available on your device before signing up.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the best streaming channel services you can subscribe to now:

Showtime – Showtime offers a lineup of critically acclaimed original shows and blockbuster movies from the premium cable channel. Some of Showtime’s most popular hits are “Billions,” “Shameless,” and “Homeland.” You can stream Showtime directly from the official website or app for $11 a month, or sign up through Prime Video or Hulu.

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Starz – Like Showtime and HBO, Starz offers on-demand streaming of its original shows and a rotating catalog of movies. Notably, Starz is the exclusive premium network home for Sony films like “Spider-Man” and “Jumanji.” The service costs $9 a month, though new subscribers can get their first three months for $3 a month.

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ESPN+ – ESPN’s service is another example of a channel-specific streaming platform, offering live broadcasts of sporting events that aren’t normally aired on cable and exclusive access to niche coverage of sports like UFC and “League of Legends.” With that said, ESPN+ does not actually provide live streaming access to the regular ESPN cable channel. The service costs $7 a month, and you can bundle it with Disney Plus and Hulu for $14 a month.

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What we look for in on-demand streaming services

Watching TV streaming app smartphone Roku HBO Go

On-demand subscription services, like Netflix, popularized streaming by providing a larger library of on-demand movies and shows than cable providers could offer, and at a cheaper price. Subscribers gain instant access to thousands of titles rather than paying more for dozens of channels or rental fees for new releases. Many streaming services have also launched their own exclusive programming that you can’t see anywhere else. 

Since the goal is entertainment, choosing the best on-demand streaming service for your needs will largely come down to your personal tastes. However, we can judge the different on-demand platforms based on a few common factors, like their library size, selection of critically acclaimed exclusives, video quality, app functionality, and price.

The best on-demand streaming services have set a standard for 4K video quality, with support for HDR color and contrast on compatible TVs. TV channels rarely broadcast in 4K, so we have lower expectations for live TV streaming services, which still use HD resolutions like 1080p or 720p.

Quality can still vary based on the movie or show being streamed, and you’ll need a strong, stable internet connection to stream consistently at 4K. Even if you don’t have a 4K TV, these services will still deliver the best possible quality for your setup.

We expect app support on iOS, Android, and most home entertainment devices, though the growing number of streaming services has led to slower releases on competitive platforms, like Amazon and Roku. The best on-demand services also give subscribers an option to save select movies for offline viewing while they travel, though an online check-in is still required occasionally.

When comparing catalogs, we try to consider the range of entertainment offered by each streaming service, how much the platform has invested in exclusive programming, and which age ranges are best suited to watch. While most streaming services will have a rotating list of movies, it’s important to pay attention to which series and franchises will remain platform exclusive, like “The Office,” “Star Wars,” and “Stranger Things.”

The best deals on streaming services

man using laptop watching shows

Streaming services offer frequent promotions and discounts for new members and students. Special packages are also common, allowing you to bundle services together and save.

Check out some notable streaming deals you can take advantage of right now, below. We’ll update this list of deals with more discounts as they become available.

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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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What to know about staking – the process of locking up crypto holdings to earn rewards and interest

What Is Staking in Crypto & How Does it Work?
  • Staking is the process of delegating or locking up crypto holdings to earn rewards.
  • Some of the rewards you can earn from staking are earning additional tokens and getting some voting rights.
  • Staking is also risky since crypto is volatile, you may need to pay fees, and won’t have access to your holdings should you need to access.
  • Visit Insider’s Investing Reference library for more stories.

While many crypto investors mine in order to gain more assets, there is another option available to some investors: Crypto staking.

Crypto staking involves “locking up” a portion of your cryptocurrency for a period of time as a way of contributing to a blockchain network. In exchange, stakers can earn rewards, typically in the form of additional coins or tokens.

What is crypto staking?

Crypto staking is similar to depositing money in a bank, in that an investor locks up their assets, and in exchange, earns rewards, or “interest.”

“Staking is a term used to refer to the delegating of a certain number of tokens to the governance model of the blockchain and thus locking them out of circulation for a specified length of time,” says Nicole DeCicco, the owner and founder of CryptoConsultz, a cryptocurrency consultancy in the Portland, Oregon area.

A particular network’s protocol locks up an investor’s holdings – similar to depositing money in a bank, and agreeing not to withdraw it for a set time period, which benefits the network in a couple of ways, according to DeCicco.

First, this can increase the value of a token by limiting the supply. Second, the tokens can be used to govern the blockchain if the network uses a proof-of-stake (PoS) system. A PoS system – as opposed to a proof-of-work (PoW) one, which incorporates “mining” – can be fairly complicated, especially for crypto newcomers.

In PoS systems, coins are staked to forge new blocks in the blockchain, for which participants are rewarded. “Winners are selected through randomization, ensuring no single entity will gain a monopoly over forging,” says DeCicco.

The process is simplified for crypto exchange users, says Jeremy Welch, chief product officer at Kraken, one such crypto exchange. On Kraken, Welch says staking is as easy as “going to the staking page [on the user’s interface], specifying the amount you want to stake, and hitting submit.”

Welch also says that setting up a staking system on your own can be quite difficult. “You need to maintain and run a node yourself. And you need to know the crypto’s infrastructure,” he adds, which may require background knowledge many investors won’t have.

Depending on how much of their total holdings are being staked, and the length that they’re being staked for, a staker can earn a proportional reward by forging. Stakers can also pool their holdings to meet any required minimums, too, into a “staking pool.” It’s also possible to “cold stake” on some networks, which involves staking coins or tokens that are held in a “cold” wallet, or one that is kept offline.

Coins you can stake

While not every cryptocurrency can be staked, most can. For instance, DeCicco says that seven of the ten most popular current coins can be staked. Here are some examples:

  • Ethereum: Previously employed a PoW system, Ethereum is now moving to PoS. To stake Ethereum on your own, you’ll need a minimum of 32 ETH to become a validator, and you’ll then “be responsible for storing data, processing transactions, and adding new blocks to the blockchain,” according to the Ethereum site.
  • Cardano: Investors can also delegate Ada – the Cardano network’s cryptocurrency – to staking pools to earn rewards. Cardano users can even set up their own staking pools, too, assuming they have the technical know-how to create and administer one.
  • Solana: Solana, or SOL, can likewise be staked or delegated to a staking pool, assuming an investor uses a digital wallet that supports it. From there, it’s a matter of selecting a validator and deciding how much you’d like to stake.

Staking rewards

There are many benefits and rewards to staking. Here are some of the most prominent:

  • Earn additional tokens. This is the big one – increasing your individual stash of tokens or coins. Stakers aren’t guaranteed anything, as the process of forging new blocks and doling out rewards is randomized, but stakers do “earn interest,” so to speak, by staking.
  • Staking is less resource-intensive. As opposed to crypto mining, staking consumes far fewer resources, which may help you sleep at night. Plus, staking is “servicing the ecosystem by making tokens more rare,” says DeCicco, which can increase the value of your holdings.
  • Stakers get voting rights and participation. As mentioned, stakers are more entrenched in a specific ecosystem or blockchain network, which may give them more clout as to what happens next with a specific cryptocurrency. “It’s similar to owning stock in a company. By staking, you’re getting voting rights,” says Welch.
  • Staking can be an easy way to grow holdings. For investors using an exchange, staking can be as easy as toggling a few switches to set things up. From there, they can watch their holdings grow. It’s a hands-off, easy way to keep investing, while putting in very little effort.

Risks of staking

As with any type of investment, staking has its risks. While it’s unlikely that you’ll see your entire account go kaputz overnight, as may happen with certain stocks, there are some things to be aware of before you start staking:

  • Crypto is volatile. First and foremost, cryptocurrency is a volatile investment, and as such, price swings are common. The volatile nature of crypto and corresponding price swings can have you rethinking your strategy on a daily basis – so, volatility is something to keep in mind.
  • Lock-up periods. Staking involves locking up your funds for a period of time, and if you lock up your holdings for months (or years), you won’t have access to them for some time. Also important: There may not be a way to “unstake” your holdings once you start.
  • Beware of “slashing.” If you’re staking outside of an exchange, by setting up and configuring your own node, you may make a mistake and incur penalties. This is called “slashing,” and is used against “validators that are performing poorly or dishonestly,” says Welch. The result? “A portion of the funds can be taken as a penalty,” he adds.
  • Fees. Yes, there are fees associated with staking, particularly if you do so through an exchange. The fees vary by exchange, but Welch says they’re typically a percentage of a staker’s rewards.

The financial takeaway

Staking can be a good way for crypto investors to put their holdings to work, earning them interest and rewards. Plus, it can get you involved in the governance and validation side of blockchain networks, which may be something of interest to certain investors.

It may be useful to think of staking as owning a stock and earning dividends, or even putting money in a bank account and earning interest. It can be a relatively low-lift way to grow your account, but be sure to do your homework, and know the risks of staking before starting.

What is Bitcoin? A beginner’s guide to the world’s most popular type of cryptocurrency, and tips for investing in itDigital assets are becoming the new normal – here’s how to buy cryptocurrencyWhat to know about non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – unique digital assets built on blockchain technologyAltcoins are the alternative digital currencies to bitcoin – here’s what they are and how they work

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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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These are the 6 must-read titles in the running for the 2021 Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious book awards

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Books on the Booker Prize shortlist, including The Fortune Men, Great Circle, and Bewilderment 4x3

  • The Booker Shortlist was announced on September 14, 2021.
  • The list includes six shortlisted books for the prestigious literary award.
  • See all the titles that made the initial Booker Prize longlist.

The Booker Prize Foundation shared the six books selected for the prestigious Booker Prize in an online news conference this Tuesday.

Booker Prize finalists include poet Patricia Lockwood, whose fragmentary debut novel, “No One Is Talking About This,” is partially written in internet lingo (we’re fans); Nadifa Mohamed, whose book “The Fortune Men” follows a man in danger of being wrongfully convicted of murder in Wales; and Anuk Arudpragasam, whose novel “A Passage North” examines human longing against the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war.

Now, the judging panel will reread the six books before deciding on this year’s winner, who will be announced on November 3, 2021 and receive 50,000 pounds alongside what is typically a hefty bump in book sales.

Some of the buzziest titles of the year to make the longlist didn’t make the 2021 Booker shortlist. These include “Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro, a former recipient of both the Booker and Nobel Prize.

Descriptions provided by Amazon and edited for length and clarity.

The 6 books on the 2021 Booker Prize shortlist:

“A Passage North” by Anuk Arudpragasam

Book cover for "A Passage North" by Anuk Arudpragasam

Available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.99

A Passage North” begins with a message from out of the blue: a telephone call informing Krishan that his grandmother’s caretaker, Rani, has died under unexpected circumstances — found at the bottom of a well in her village in the north, her neck broken by the fall. The news arrives on the heels of an email from Anjum, an impassioned yet aloof activist Krishnan fell in love with years before while living in Delhi, stirring old memories and desires from a world he left behind. 

As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the war-torn Northern Province for Rani’s funeral, so begins an astonishing passage into the innermost reaches of a country. At once a powerful meditation on absence and longing, as well as an unsparing account of the legacy of Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war, this procession to a pyre “at the end of the earth” lays bare the imprints of an island’s past, the unattainable distances between who we are and what we seek.

Written with precision and grace, Arudpragasam’s masterful novel is an attempt to come to terms with life in the wake of devastation, and a poignant memorial for those lost and those still alive.

“The Promise” by Damon Galgut

Book cover for "The Promise" by Damon Galgut

Available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $23

The Promise” charts the crash and burn of a white South African family living on a farm outside Pretoria. The Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stands for — not least the failed promise to the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. After years of service, Salome was promised her own house, her own land… yet somehow, as each decade passes, that promise remains unfulfilled.

The narrator’s eye shifts and blinks — moving fluidly between characters, flying into their dreams — deliciously lethal in its observation. And as the country moves from old deep divisions to its new so-called fairer society, the lost promise of more than just one family hovers behind the novel’s title.

“No One Is Talking About This” by Patricia Lockwood

Book cover for "No One is Talking About This" by Patricia Lockwood

Available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.89

As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms “the portal,” where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts. When existential threats — from climate change and economic precariousness to the rise of an unnamed dictator and an epidemic of loneliness — begin to loom, she posts her way deeper into the portal’s void. 

Suddenly, two texts from her mother pierce the fray: “Something has gone wrong,” and “How soon can you get here?” As real life and its stakes collide with the increasingly absurd antics of the portal, the woman confronts a world that seems to contain both an abundance of proof that there is goodness, empathy, and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary.

Fragmentary and omniscient, incisive and sincere, “No One Is Talking About This” is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature.

“The Fortune Men” by Nadifa Mohamed

Book cover for "The Fortune Men" by Nadifa Mohamed

Available on Amazon from $14.99

Mahmood Mattan is a fixture in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay, 1952, which bustles with Somali and West Indian sailors, Maltese businessmen, and Jewish families. He is a father, chancer, some-time petty thief. He is many things, in fact, but he is not a murderer. 

So when a shopkeeper is brutally killed, and all eyes fall on him, Mahmood isn’t too worried. It is true that he has been getting into trouble more often since his Welsh wife Laura left him. But Mahmood is secure in his innocence in a country where, he thinks, justice is served.

It is only in the run-up to the trial, as the prospect of freedom dwindles, that it will dawn on Mahmood that he is in a terrifying fight for his life — against conspiracy, prejudice, and the inhumanity of the state. And, under the shadow of the hangman’s noose, he begins to realize that the truth may not be enough to save him.

“Bewilderment” by Richard Powers

Book cover for "Bewilderment" by Richard Powers

Available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $22.49

The astrobiologist Theo Byrne searches for life throughout the cosmos while single-handedly raising his unusual 9-year-old, Robin, following the death of his wife. Robin is a warm, kind boy who spends hours painting elaborate pictures of endangered animals. He’s also about to be expelled from third grade for smashing his friend in the face. 

As his son grows more troubled, Theo hopes to keep him off psychoactive drugs. He learns of an experimental neurofeedback treatment to bolster Robin’s emotional control, one that involves training the boy on the recorded patterns of his mother’s brain.

With its soaring descriptions of the natural world, its tantalizing vision of life beyond, and its account of a father and son’s ferocious love, “Bewilderment” marks Richard Powers’ most intimate and moving novel. At its heart lies the question: How can we tell our children the truth about this beautiful, imperiled planet?

“Great Circle” by Maggie Shipstead

'Great Circle' by Maggie Shipstead

Available on Amazon and Bookshop, from $18

After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There — after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in biplanes — Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At 14, she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.

A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian’s disappearance in Antarctica. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian’s own story, as the two women’s fates — and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times — collide. Epic and emotional, meticulously researched and gloriously told, “Great Circle” is a monumental work of art and a tremendous leap forward for the prodigiously gifted Maggie Shipstead.

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