The 21 best books by Julia Quinn, the author of the famous “Bridgerton” series

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Collage of the best Julia Quinn books, Bridgerton 4x3
Julia Quinn famously wrote the historical fiction series “Bridgerton.” Here are her best books, according to Goodreads reviews.

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Julia Quinn is the author of the books that inspired the hit Netflix series “Bridgerton.” This eight-book historical romance series follows different members of the Bridgerton family as they each find their own complicated but steamy love stories. 

Though the “Bridgerton” series is her most well-known collection, Julia Quinn has written over 30 novels and short stories, each loved for her charming writing style and swoon-worthy romance plots. 

To rank Julia Quinn’s most popular books, we turned to ratings from Goodreads members. On Goodreads, over 125 million readers rate, review, and share their favorite book recommendations with the community. Whether you’re looking to dive into the adored “Bridgerton” series or searching for a perfect historical regency romance, here are the most popular Julia Quinn books, according to Goodreads reviewers. 

The 21 most popular Julia Quinn books, according to Goodreads reviewers: 

The Duke and I

the duke and i julia quinn

“The Duke and I,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $4.99

With nearly 250,000 ratings, “The Duke and I” is the most popular Julia Quinn book among Goodreads reviewers. Made even more popular by the Netflix series “Bridgerton,” “The Duke and I” is about the fake relationship between Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings. Daphne has struggled to turn friendships into romance in the past and is hoping her fake relationship will boost her prospects, while Simon is looking to deter the countless young women vying for his attention. 

The Viscount Who Loved Me

the viscount who loved me julia quinn

“The Viscount Who Loved Me,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.50

In 1814, London’s most elusive bachelor, Anthony Bridgerton, has decided to marry and has chosen a wife: Edwina. Interfering in their relationship is Edwina’s sister, Kate, who does everything she can to sabotage their courtship to protect her sister — while secretly pining for Anthony herself — in this steamy “Bridgerton” sequel. 

Romancing Mister Bridgerton

romancing mr bridgerton

“Romancing Mister Bridgerton,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.99

“Romancing Mister Bridgerton” is the fourth book in the “Bridgerton” series and follows Colin Bridgerton, a charming bachelor regularly featured in a popular gossip column. Penelope Featherington can’t help but fall for Colin, her best friend’s brother, but when she discovers his biggest secret, everything changes between them. 

An Offer From a Gentleman

an offer from a gentleman

“An Offer From a Gentleman,” available at Amazon, $8.99

The third book in the “Bridgerton” series is a “Cinderella” retelling, following Sophie Beckett, the daughter of an earl who has been demoted to a servant-like status by her stepmother. When Sophie sneaks into the masquerade ball, she finds herself dancing with the charming Benedict Bridgerton. When Sophie flees, Benedict knows he must find and wed the breathtaking maid with whom he felt an undeniable attraction. 

To Sir Phillip, With Love

to sir phillip, with love

“To Sir Phillip, With Love,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $4.48

In this “Bridgerton” novel, talkative spinster Eloise Bridgerton and moody Sir Phillip get engaged without ever meeting each other but hope to find suitable partners in each other. When Eloise finally arrives by carriage, they both discover their new partner is far from what they imagined in this witty and ultimately heartwarming historical romance.  

When He Was Wicked

when he was wicked

“When He Was Wicked,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $4.48

Michael Stirling was infamous for his way with women, a notorious rake until the moment he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton and fell madly in love, less than two days before her wedding. Now, Francesca is single once again and still unaware of Michael’s feelings — until the moment they step into each other’s arms and ignite the unruly passion between them.

It’s in His Kiss

bridgerton it's in his kiss

“It’s in His Kiss,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $4.48

When Gareth St. Clair inherits an old family diary, he’s desperate to uncover the secrets that may lie within the pages. Unfortunately, it’s written entirely in Italian, a language Gareth does not understand. When Hyacinth Bridgerton offers to help Gareth translate the diary, they discover the answers to Gareth’s questions not in the text, but in each other. 

On the Way to the Wedding

on the way to the wedding

“On the Way to the Wedding,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $4.48

In this final book of the “Bridgerton” series, Gregory Bridgerton is engaged to Hermione Watson, once hopeful that she was “the one” but now knowing she’s in love with someone else. When Hermione’s best friend, Lucy, offers to help Gregory win her affections, Lucy can’t help but fall for Gregory despite her own obligations. 

Just Like Heaven

just like heaven book cover

“Just Like Heaven,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.99

“Just Like Heaven” is the first in a “Bridgerton” spin-off series, featuring Honoria Smythe-Smith and Marcus Holroyd who have known each other their whole lives as Marcus was best friends with Honoria’s older brother. When Marcus falls ill and Honoria cares for him, the two can’t help but slowly fall for each other in this delightful and entertaining romance. 

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

the secret diaries book cover

“The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99

Years ago, Nigel Bevelstoke kissed 10-year-old Miranda Cheever and promised her that she’d become a great beauty one day. Now, Miranda is grown up and is determined to find the man who gave her the confidence she has today, until she finds him and discovers that Nigel’s spirit has been crushed by time and loss. 

Because of Miss Bridgerton

because of miss bridgerton cover

“Because of Miss Bridgerton,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $5.98

“Because of Miss Bridgerton” is the first historical romance novel in the “Rokesby” series, a “Bridgerton” spin-off that takes place a generation earlier. Everyone expects Billie Bridgerton to marry one of the Rokesby brothers as their families have been neighbors for centuries and the children were practically raised together. The only Rokesby that Billie cannot stand is George, but when the two are thrown together, the passion between them becomes clear. 

What Happens in London

what happens in london book cover

What Happens in London,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99

Olivia Bevelstoke decides to spy on her new neighbor when she hears rumors he may have killed his fiancée. When Sir Harry Valentine notices his neighbor spying on him, he’s instantly suspicious and is soon recruited to spy on her in return when he discovers the man she’s engaged to may be plotting England’s downfall. 

Ten Things I Love About You

ten things i love about you book cover

“Ten Things I Love About You,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.99

In this final book of the “Bevelstoke” series, Annabel Winslow’s family wants her to marry the old, rich Earl of Newbury, who is looking to find an heir before he passes so his fortune won’t go to his nephew, Sebastian Grey. When Annabel runs away from the earl, she meets Sebastian and the two decide to keep their identities a secret for the night — a secret that cannot be kept for long. 

A Night Like This

a night like this

“A Night Like This,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99

In this second book of the “Smythe-Smith Quartet” spin-off series, Anne is working as a governess to three young ladies when Daniel, the Earl of Winstead, returns from his three-year exile. As Daniel vows to pursue her, Anne must remind herself to not be tempted by a nobleman — until the danger that stalks Daniel finally catches up to him and pulls Anne into peril as well. 

The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband

the girl with the make believe husband

“The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99

When Cecilia Harcourt’s brother is injured in a battle, she decides to cross the Atlantic to find him and nurse him back to health. In her search for her brother, Cecilia finds Edward Rokesby, an officer left unconscious and desperately in need of care, and tells everyone that she’s his wife so she may care for him. When Edward wakes up with no memory, he’s surprised to learn he’s apparently married to Cecilia, until the truth finally comes out. 

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After

the bridgerton's happily ever after

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.48

“The Bridgertons” is an eight-book historical romance series, each of which follows a different family member through their unique and steamy love stories. This novel is a collection of eight “second epilogues” for “Bridgerton” fans to discover what happened to their favorite characters.

The Sum of All Kisses

the sum of all kisses

“The Sum of All Kisses,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $4.50

Hugh Prentice is badly injured after a duel that nearly destroyed Sarah Pleinsworth’s family. Though Hugh believes Sarah is unrelentingly annoying and Sarah can’t find a way to forgive him for the duel, they uncover more than they ever knew about each other when forced to spend a week in close company. “The Sum of All Kisses” is the third book in the “Smythe-Smith Quartet” series, a “Bridgerton” spin-off.

The Lost Duke of Wyndham

the lost duke of wyndham

“The Lost Duke of Wyndham,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99

Jack Audley is a highwayman who is devastated to find out he might be the long-lost Duke of Wyndham, a title and set of responsibilities he does not want. When Jack and Grace Eversleigh fall for each other, they each pray his paternity isn’t true, as they cannot be together if he’s truly a duke.  

Splendid

splendid

“Splendid,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99

Published in 1995, “Splendid” is Julia Quinn’s first novel about Alexander Ridgely, the Duke of Ashbourne, who meets Emma Dunster when she saves his nephew’s life. Believing she’s a servant, Alexander knows he can’t fall for Emma, until she uncovers her true identity in her debut as an American heiress with no intention of falling for an Englishman. 

How to Marry a Marquis

how to marry a marquis

“How to Marry a Marquis,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.99

Elizabeth Hotchkiss knows she must marry for money to support her siblings, so when she discovers a handbook titled “How to Marry a Marquis,” she decides there’s no harm in skimming the pages. When Elizabeth meets James Sidwell, a Marquis posing as an estate manager, he offers Elizabeth to practice her new tricks on him to win the affections of a husband. 

The Other Miss Bridgerton

the other miss bridgerton

“The Other Miss Bridgerton,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99

In this third novel of the “Rokesbys” series set a generation before “Bridgerton,” Poppy Bridgerton is visiting a friend when she discovers a fascinating cave and is shockingly kidnapped by pirates and left bound on the ship captain’s bed. When Captain Andrew James Rokesby discovers Poppy, he knows he must marry her to avoid a scandal. 

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The 5 best online personal trainer certification programs, according to professionals

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With so many online options, you want to find a personal trainer certification program that’s legitimate. Here’s what to look for.

  • To become a personal trainer, you’ll need to be certified, which you can do online.
  • Below, professional trainers Evan Williams and Kristie Alicea share tips on finding a program.
  • We also included the 5 best online personal trainer certificate programs you can sign up for.

If you enjoy exercising, have a good rapport with people, and want to help them meet their fitness goals, becoming a personal trainer may be a good profession for you. Whether you already work in the fitness industry or are feeling ready to jump into a new field entirely, there are several online personal trainer certification programs you can choose to take your career goals to new heights.

Figuring out which online certification course is best for you can be tricky, so I spoke with two certified personal trainers — Evan Williams, CSCS, CPT, and CEO of E2G Performance and Kristie Alicea, CPT, NCSF, ACE, AFPA, and co-founder of ABC Fit Collective — to provide insight and tips on what to look for when deciding on an online personal trainer certification. 

Personal Trainer Evan Williams and CEO of E2G Performance
Evan Williams, CSCS, CPT, and CEO of E2G Performance

“One of the most fulfilling aspects to being a trainer is seeing your clients reach their goals,” says Williams. “As trainers, we play a big role in how they approach and view fitness so it’s important to deliver an exceptional experience while educating them on how to safely attain their goals in the most efficient way.”  

For Alicea, the best part of her career is making a positive difference in a person’s life. “Watching my clients, many of whom are pregnant or postpartum, feel strong in their body and confident in their lives truly continues to fuel my passion,” she says.

Personal trainer Kristie Alicea of ABC Fit Collective.
Kristie Alicea, CPT, NCSF, ACE, AFPA, and co-founder of ABC Fit Collective.

Williams and Alicea both shared their advice on what you should keep in mind before you even look for programs, what legitimate programs should have as requirements, and their own recommendations for some of the best programs.

What to know before you look for or enroll in a personal training program:

A personal trainer helps a client lift weights.

The fitness industry is competitive, and becoming a personal trainer requires plenty of studying and, once you’ve obtained your certification, looking for a job or taking the steps to start your own personal training business. 

Williams is frank about what it’s like in such a competitive field, especially when you’re starting out: “Being a personal trainer is a grind.” Alicea agrees that it can be difficult at first. “Just like any other industry, the beginning is challenging, but once you get your footing you find, there’s so much to learn,” she says. 

It’s also important to know that a typical schedule is the opposite of a nine-to-five job. “As a personal trainer we work outside of normal hours: Think early mornings, after work, and weekends,” says Alicea.

5 tips for choosing an online personal training certification program:

A personal trainer helps a client do push-ups.

With plenty of personal trainer certification programs to choose from, it can be difficult to decipher between the ones that are legitimate and worth the money and time commitment.

Williams and Alicea break down what you need to know to ensure you choose a program that fits your needs and professional goals:

1. Check out job listings to learn what your ideal employer is looking for.

As with any profession, jobs for personal trainers usually require specific studies or certifications in order to be considered. Williams recommends perusing personal trainer job listings to get a sense of what qualifications are necessary for the position to help you decide what may be the best fit.

2. Look for a nationally accredited certification.

Professional personal trainers go through lots of studying, training, and examination before they can start working with clients. 

“You should look for a nationally accredited certification: One that has a curriculum that focuses on anatomy, science, trusted methodologies, and movement patterns,” Alicea suggests.

3. Only consider programs that make you take an exam to get certified.

With so many different institutions offering online personal training programs, sometimes it can be challenging to distinguish what is legit and what isn’t.  But there are a couple of things to pay attention to.  

“You should have to take an exam in order to receive your certification,” says Alicea. One warning sign that it’s a certificate instead of a certification is the time it takes. “No program should promise that you can get certified in a day,” she adds.

4. If a program seems too easy, it might be a scam.

“Some things to look out for are certs that are really easy to get and require little to no preparation or knowledge to obtain,” Williams says. Unfortunately, there are places offering certifications “that want to just collect money and could care less about you being prepared and knowledgeable,” he adds. 

5. Think about your long-term goals.

The good news is there are a variety of legitimate certification programs available, but not all of them are one-size-fits-all. 

Williams recommends that you know what type of work you want to do within the personal training field and the types of clients you’d like to work with. “I work with professional athletes, so it was imperative that I got my CSCS certification (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) from the NSCA, he says.

5 of the best online personal trainer certification programs:

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

NCSA homepage.

Price:  $340 for members and $475 non-member price for the exam

Length: Not stated, but you must pass exams within a year of signing up

NSCA is a non-profit organization that focuses on training and educating professionals in different sport science careers. “It is arguably one of the most well-respected associations in the fitness industry,” says Williams. “They have tons of courses, quizzes, books, and content to help pass their exams.”  

Learn more about the NSCA here.

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

NASM homepage

Price: $899 self-study to $2699 all-inclusive

Length: Minimum of 4 weeks 

NASM is well-known in the world of sports medicine and fitness and offers a range of personal training programs online. “NASM is very well-respected and one of the most popular academies,” says Williams. “They offer a ton of content and resources [and] they have great pricing and bundles that they offer.”

Learn more about NASM here.

American Council of Exercise (ACE)

ACE Fitness homepage.

Price: $899- $1499, depending on program

Length: Study at your own pace, but you must take the exam within 6 months of signing up

A non-profit organization, ACE is dedicated to exercise and health coaching through its various programs from personal trainer to health coach.  Alicea and Williams both recommend ACE because it’s been around for decades and is well-respected in the industry.

Learn more about ACE here.

International Sports Science Association (ISSA)

ISSA homepage

Price: $69/month for 12 months

Length: 4- 12 weeks and up to 6 months to complete and take the exam

Created in 1988, ISSA is known internationally as a source for fitness trainers and sports scientists. It offers a range of personal trainer programs, depending on your professional goals. Alicea mentions that ISSA is known in the industry and its certification is accepted at most gyms. 

Learn more about ISSA here.

National Council of Sports and Fitness (NCSF)

NCSF homepage.

Price: $699-$899

Length: Self-paced

In business for over 25 years, NCSF is dedicated to educating and training sport and exercise-focused professionals. It offers personal trainer certifications as well as strength coaching and sports nutrition. Alicea suggests the NCSF because it’s been around for a long time and offers comprehensive courses.

Learn more about NCSF here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

69 gifts under $50 for everyone on your list this holiday season

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  • You don’t need to spend a fortune to find a thoughtful gift they’ll love. 
  • We found 69 of the best gifts under $50 to suit the interests and tastes of everyone on your list.
  • Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we’ve ever tested.

With best friends’ birthdays, anniversaries with your significant other, celebratory moments with coworkers, or even just to tell a loved one you’re thinking about them,  it’s easy for your gifting list to fill up quickly. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to get everyone on your list a gift that feels made for them. There are plenty of great gift ideas under $50 to be found if you know where to look.

We’ve done the hard work for you and sifted through hundreds of options to find affordable gifts to suit a wide range of tastes and interests.

Our picks for the best gifts under $50 still feel unique and personal. And whether these gifts are complements to a bigger present or are the star of the show, we know your recipient will love them.

Keep reading for 69 gifts under $50 that work for anyone on your list.

This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Under Armour. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*

A bluetooth microphone to make events more fun

bluetooth karaoke microphone - gifts under $50

Bonaok Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone, available at Amazon, $30.99

This Bluetooth karaoke microphone is the perfect accessory to gift the one who’s the life of the party. They can sing along to their favorite songs with this gift that offers premium sound and noise reduction. 

An embroidery kit to make decorative designs for home

Three Pack Embroidery Kit - gifts under $50

Nuberlic 3 Pack Embroidery Kit, available at Amazon, $17.39

This embroidery kit is a great gift for those who want to learn a new skill. The three pack set lets them become a master craftsman as they create beautiful, handmade flower designs.

A tracker for lost items

airtag tracker for lost items - gifts under $50

AirTag, available at Apple, from $29

Whether you lose track of your keys or a bag, Apple’s AirTag is a sure way to find any lost item. This water-resistant tracker plays a sound or uses its precise distance findings to lead you straight to the item regardless of the distance on the Find My app.

An at-home tie dye kit

rit x thompson street studio at home dye kit - gifts under $50

Rit x Thompson Street Studio Dye at Home Upcycling Kit, available at Nordstrom, $11.4o

Instead of buying something new, this dye kit can refurbish old clothes from your wardrobe with playful prints. The Dye-at-home kit includes power dyes rubber bands gloves, and an instruction booklet to begin making your closet more sustainable.

A pair of stylish wearable weights

Bala Bangles wearable weights - gifts under $50

Bala Bangles, available at Amazon, from $49

Incorporate fitness into your daily life with these wearable weights that fit on your wrist or ankles. At one to two pounds, these stylish weights intensify any movement and build strength whether it’s a workout or running errands.

A hatch decanter to sophisticatedly store alcohol

hatch decanter - gifts under $50

Hatch Decanter, available at Crate & Barrel, $44.95

If their barware collection bares a sophisticated flair, they’ll appreciate this elegant hatch decanter. This 32oz decanter is a more affordable price than others thanks to its beautiful molded diamond pattern that resembles cut crystal.

A spice and herb kit packed with international flavors

gourmet oil dipping spice kit - gifts under $50

Gourmet Oil Dipping Spice Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $42

Whether it’s a dash of Italian oregano or za’atar from the Middle East, any cook will appreciate this international spice kit that lets them cook with various tastes of the world. 

A skincare set for combination and oily skin types

clinque beauty kit for combination and oily skin - gifts under $50

Clinique Great Skin, Great Deal Set, available at Sephora, $32.50

This Clinique set for combination and oily skin types is a great addition to any skincare routine. This three-step regimen includes a facial soap, an exfoliating lotion, and a moisturizing gel make this three-step routine an easy and quick way for a fresh face.

A DIY recipe book

A DIY, 120 blank page cookbook - gifts under $50

My Recipes Cookbook, available at Amazon, $8.99

Whether they’re a huge foodie or want to preserve a favorite family meal, this DIY cookbook offers 120 blank pages to fill with their favorite recipes. The notebook’s table of contents and additional note space at the end will help keep them extra organized.

Taking the time to add in your own savory vodka sauce pasta dish or having their loved ones fill in grandma’s homemade sweets recipe will make this gift feel extra special.

Snacks for movie night

Popcorn Snack Medley - gifts under $50

Popcorn Snack Medley, available at Knack, $40.99

Help them take their next Netflix marathon to the next level with this popcorn mix set. The mix includes two microwavable Pop on The Cob popcorn cobs, toffee pretzels, dark chocolate-covered cherries, and Virginia peanuts. If they have a particular favorite treat, each snack can also be added in extra quantities at an additional cost.

A carafe that helps preserve wine

Glass Wine Saver Carafe - gifts under $50

Glass Wine Saver Carafe, available at Grommet, $42.95

Wine lovers will surely appreciate this elegant gift that will allow them to savor and sip their favorite bottle for longer. This glass carafe preserves non-sparkling wine in the refrigerator for up to one week. Simply, pour wine into the carafe, insert the float at an angle, then seal it with the top and serve.

Farm-to-skin lip balms

Beekman 1802 Ten Piece Lip Balm Set - gifts under $50

Beekman 1802 Ten Piece Lip Balm Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $48

This farm-to-skin lip balm set is just right for the green beauty obsessive. All 10 lip balms are made from natural goat’s milk and essential oils. Beautifully packaged and scented, the fragrances include Ylang Ylang and Tuberose, Orange Blossom, Fig Leaf, Sweet Grass, Grapefruit, Oak Moss, Apricot and Honey, Vanilla, and an unscented balm.

A monogrammed clutch

monogrammed clutch - gifts under $50

Palm Leaf Rounded Clutch, available at Mark and Graham, from $34.99

You can get your giftees initials embroidered on this cute roll-up clutch for a personal touch. The bag is woven from natural palm leaves for a beachy vibe, and the blue and white striped interior adds to the fun coastal feel.

A sand-free, quick-dry towel

quick dry towel - gifts under $50

Sand Cloud towel, available at Sand Cloud, from $28

Not only are these thin towels easy to roll up and throw in your beach bag or picnic basket, but they also easily shake off sand and dry three times faster than classic beach and pool towels. Choose from a wide array of vibrant patterns and colors, from a navy blue whale shark print to tie-dye options.

An easy way to make their own bubble tea

bubble tea kit - gifts under $50

Bubble Tea Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $40

For the bubble tea lover in your life, this kit comes with two flavors of loose-leaf tea, tapioca pearls, and two reusable stainless steel straws. All they’ll have to do is add a little milk (if they like!) and sip on this delicious brew.

A personalized video message from their favorite celebrity

Cameo- gifts under $50

Cameo video, available on Cameo, from $1

Whether they have a favorite musician, reality TV star, comedian, or actor, there’s a good chance their favorite celebrity is on Cameo. You can even choose from pre-recorded video messages with a personal shoutout, or opt to give them a super special one-on-one video call. Of course, the price will depend on who the star is.

Notepads chock full of affirmations

Knock Knock notepads - gifts under $50

Knock Knock Notepads, available at Amazon, from $5.25

Whether you want to give them a quick pep talk or celebrate them just because, these notepads from Knock Knock provide a creative and encouraging way of doing so. Each comes with 50 sheets, so they’ll make plenty of use of these witty notes.

A small but mighty smart assistant

Nest Mini - gifts under $50

Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation), available at Best Buy, $24.99

Give the gift of a virtual helper. Currently on sale for under $25, the Google Nest Mini offers a compact, affordable smart speaker with Google Assistant built-in. Friends and family members will love being able to dim lights, control the volume on their TV, check the weather, and more, all with just the sound of their voice.

Read our full review of the Google Nest Mini here.

A face mask designed for working out

Under Armour face mask - gifts under $50

UA Sportmask, available at Under Armour, $25

Under Armour’s Sportmask was designed with athletes in mind, as reflected in its breathability, water resistance, and UPF 50+ sun protection. Thanks to the Sportsmask, they won’t have to sacrifice their workout routine or their comfort.

*Sponsored by Under Armour

A 52-piece art kit

Watercolor Set - gifts under $50

51-Piece Watercolor Art Set, available at Amazon, $21.98

Encourage them to pick up a new hobby (or take advantage of an existing one) with this watercolor set that’s built for both beginners and experts. The set includes various cakes and paints, watercolor pencils, paintbrushes, a paint palette, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener — all within a pre-packaged case that can save you the pain of gift wrapping. 

A streaming stick that turns any TV into a smart one

Roku Streaming Stick+ - gifts under $50

Roku Streaming Stick +, available at Amazon, $34.99

Upgrade their Netflix binge marathons without actually buying them a whole new TV. The Roku Streaming Stick + offers 4K, HD, and HDR streaming in a portable package and affordable price. 

A meal kit from their favorite restaurant

Goldbelly - gifts under $50

Goldbelly Restaurant Meal Kits, available at Goldbelly, from $25

Bring a bit of their favorite restaurant right to their door. From bagels to barbeque, Goldbelly ships food gifts nationwide from iconic eateries in major cities. 

A Disney+ subscription

Disney Plus subscription

One-year gift subscription to Disney Plus, $79.99

It gives them unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox, and costs just $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here.

And if you need some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.

A set of loose-leaf teas that even Oprah loves

chai tea set - gifts under $50

Vadham Chai Tea Reserve Set, available at Amazon, $24.99

This classy set of loose-leaf teas made it into Oprah’s Favorite Things back in 2018. It’s filled with three variations of chai tea that any tea lover will appreciate

A smooth olive oil that’ll instantly elevate any dish

gourmet bottle of olive oil - gifts for wife

Alive Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37

If they spend a lot of time in the kitchen, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, plus the beautiful bottle will look great on display in their kitchen. 

An affordable electric toothbrush subscription

quip plastic electric toothbrush - gifts under $50

Toothbrush Starter Set, available at Quip, from $25

Help them upgrade their oral care routine with a Quip toothbrush. Not only is it a great electric toothbrush at a reasonable price, but Quip will send them a refill every three months with a new brush head and toothbrush. 

Delicious mini cupcakes

baked by melissa mini cupcakes - gifts under $50

Cupcake Gift Boxes, available at Baked by Melissa, from $32

Who doesn’t love getting a sweet surprise? With delicious flavors ranging from Cookie Dough to Pink Frosted Donut, these bite-size treats are sure to please. You can also add a special gift box to complete the gift. 

A head-to-toe mini care kit

head to toe mini care kit - gifts under $50

Drunk Elephant The Littles Head to Toe, available at Sephora, $49

Give this mini set for head-to-toe care they can take on the road or just to test out some new products. The set is packed with Drunk Elephant minis, including a glossing shampoo, cream conditioner, scalp scrub, detangler, body cleanser, lotion, deodorant, and a comb. It also comes neatly packaged in a fun, neon bag.

An at-home spa kit

eucalyptus spa gift set - gifts under $50

Eucalyptus Spa Gift Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $40

Let’s face it, 2020 has been a hard year. Give them the gift of soothing relaxation with this at-home kit that includes pampering botanical bath salts and natural jute body scrubber. The recipient will also be able to grow their own eucalyptus in the bamboo pot so they can continue to breathe deep and say ahh.

A set of magnets that are fun to play with and can boost concentration

set of magnets - gifts under $50

Speks Magnet Balls, available at Speks, $34.95

Almost everyone on the Insider Reviews team has a set of Speks at their desk. The little magnetic balls can be mashed, molded, and built into fun shapes and are a fun fidget toy that even adults will love. 

A personalized pillow of their favorite fur baby

personalized pet pillow - gifts under $50

Custom Pet Pillow, available at Etsy, from $29.99

If there’s nothing they love more than their cat or dog, this pillow — featuring a blown-up picture of their pet — is sure to make them smile. 

A cute kitchen gadget that makes breakfast in a flash

dash waffle maker - gifts under $50

Dash Mini Waffle Maker, available at Target, $10

This compact waffle maker makes a great addition to any college dorm or small kitchen. All they have to do is plug it in and they can make their favorite breakfast treat in a flash.

A sugary and fun snack

Sugarfina gummy bears - gifts under $50

Sugarfina Champagne Bears, available at Neiman Marcus, $20

Elevate their next sugar fix with these fun champagne gummy bears. Don’t worry if they’re under 21, despite the name and flavor, these gummies are non-alcoholic. They also have rosé options too.    

A taste of Japan by way of snacks

bokksu may taste of japan gift box - gifts for wife

Bokksu Tasting Gift, 3-month box, available at Bokksu, $44.95

Adventurous foodies will love the chance to taste test a curated box of gourmet Japanese snacks. In this Bokksu box, they can expect to find between 10-14 snacks, a tea pairing, and an in-depth guide that details every product included.

A best-selling face mask for clear skin

aztec clay mask - gifts under $50

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Mask, available at Target, $9.99

Anyone in on the latest skincare trends will know about this mask. Many claim it has helped clear their skin, and it has over 12,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. The best part is that this powerful facial is just $10.

A soft pair of socks made from sustainable fabric

unitedbyblue sustainable socks - gifts under $50

SoftHemp Socks 2 Pack, available at United by Blue, $30

With cold weather approaching, there’s nothing better than slipping on cozy socks. Made from soft, sustainable hemp fabric, these are sure to do the trick (and why not get them two pairs?).

A luxurious exfoliator to keep skin smooth

necessaire exfoliator - gifts for wife

Necessaire The Body Exfoliator, available at Sephora, $30

Necessaire’s clean beauty products come in beautiful, minimalist packaging that looks as good in their bathroom as it feels on their skin. This gentle exfoliator will help them slough off dry winter skin for good.

Cruelty-free nail polish in a range of fun colors

cruelty free nail polish - gifts under $50

Nail Polish, available at Smith & Cult, $18

Smith & Cult’s polish is vegan, cruelty-free, and chip-resistant. With 46 fun colors to choose from, you’re sure to find one (or two, or three) they’ll love. 

A sheet mask that’ll hydrate dry, stressed skin

hydrasolution hydrating face mask - gifts under $50

Dr. Jart+ Soothing Hydra Solution, available at Sephora, $6

Fall and winter skin tends to be dry and dull. While you can’t change the weather, you can throw on a hydrating face mask to stay moisturized. This one will add lots of soothing hydration to their skin to keep it feeling fresh.

Makeup towels that make washing their face less of a chore

person holding small black makeup towel with white eyelashes embroidered on center

Makeup Towels, available at Weezie, $40

If they’ve never thought of washcloths as anything special, Weezie towels will change their minds. The adorable towels are embroidered with either hearts, winky eyelids, or the words “stain me.” Plus, the dark navy blue color will conceal makeup stains.

A silky-smooth sleep mask to block light

slip sleep mask - gifts under $50

Slip Pink Marble Sleep Mask, available at Nordstrom, $50

If there’s nothing they appreciate more than a good night’s sleep, they’ll love Slip’s silk sleep mask. It’s made from 100% pure Mulberry silk for a luxe, light feel on their skin. 

A lip gloss that has all the benefits of a balm

lip gloss - gifts under $50

Tower28 Beauty Jelly Lip Gloss, available at Sephora, $14

This clean-beauty favorite delivers the glossy sheen they’d expect from a lip gloss, but it’s loaded with nourishing oils to keep lips hydrated, too. 

A beautiful way to store olive oil

olive oil pourer jar - gifts under $50

Handblown Glass Olive Oil Pourer, available at Uncommon Goods, $45

These stunning handmade jars can hold up to 12 ounces of olive oil or vinegar. Plus, they look beautiful sitting out on the kitchen counter.

Useful cable clips

cable clips - gifts under $50

Shintop Cable Clips (six-pack), available at Amazon, $5.59

Whether their phone charger is always falling under their desk or they simply have too many cables to keep track of, these affordable and efficient clips will allow them to simplify their workspace. Plus, the pink, orange, and green shades contribute a fun pop of color.

A bold lip color that’ll last all day long

lancome lipstick - gifts under $50

Lancome L’Absolu Rouge Lipstick, available at Sephora, $32

Whether it’s a pale peach or a deep-red look they crave, they’ll love this long-lasting lipstick with its saturated colors and hydrating formula.

A set of playing cards inspired by music’s greats

music genius playing cards - gifts under $50

Music Genius Playing Cards, available at Uncommon Goods, $10

Whether they love game night, music, or are equal fans of both, they’ll surely get a kick out of these playing cards. The pack features illustrations of all the big names in pop, rock, country, and R&B.

A spray that any sneakerhead needs in their collection

shoe protectant spray - gifts under $50

Jason Markk Repel, available at Amazon, $17

If they love shoes, they should have the right products to take care of their favorite footwear. This spray protects shoes from stains caused by water and oil, and there are multiple people on our team who swear by it for every new pair of shoes they get.

A set of colorful silicone straws that reduce plastic waste

bendable silicone straws - gifts under $50

Five Two Silicone Straws Single Pack, available at Food52, $25

Bendable, sustainable, and portable (thanks to the set of carrying cases), these fun straws are the accessory any eco-conscious person should have.

A book subscription

book of the month subscription - gifts under $50

Book of the Month 3-month plan, available at Book of the Month, $49.99

A subscription box that sends them an exciting new read catered to their tastes each month is the perfect gift for a bookworm.

A unique case that protects their phone

casetify phone case - gifts under $50

Casetify phone case, available at Casetify, starting from $40

Our phones are our lifelines these days and if you know someone who’s always glued to theirs, consider giving them a unique case that’s as protective as it is pretty thanks to being drop-tested and shock-absorbent. They have options ranging from watercolor forest scenes to cute sayings to cuddly animals. You can even do a customized option and put their initials on it.  

A coffee mug that keeps their drinks hot or cold for hours

hydroflask mug - gifts under $50

Hydro Flask Travel Coffee Mug, available at Hydro Flask, $24.95

Hydro Flask‘s Travel Coffee Mug is a team favorite. It combines the classic shape of a mug with Hydro Flask’s TempShield insulation to keep beverages hot, or cold, for hours— a great gift for the coffee or tea lover who’s always on the move. 

Unisex House Slippers

unisex platform slippers - gifts under $50

Unisex Comfy Linen Slippers Slides, available at Etsy, $27.46

Clean space enthusiasts who enjoy a no outdoor shoe policy at their homes will appreciate these unisex house slippers. The waffle cloth pattern, platform bottom, and cushioned sole makes for a cute and cozy fit. These snug slippers are available in yellow, pink, gray, or green colors. 

A cute reusable tote that can fit tons of stuff

baggu reusable bag - gifts under $50

Standard Baggu, available at Baggu, $12

It’s no wonder these bags are bestsellers — they can hold up to 50 pounds of stuff and come in a range of fun colors and patterns. Plus, at just $12, they’re a great deal. 

A portable straw that makes water drinkable

personal water filter straw - gifts under $50

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter, available at Amazon, $12.99

This portable, personal water filter was one of the bestselling products on Prime Day. It filters water from creeks and rivers, making it perfect for hiking, camping, and travel.

A classy carrying case to stash chargers

leather charger roll up - gifts under $50

Leather Charger Roll-Up, available at Mark & Graham, from $39

After they fill the three pockets with cables and chargers, all they have do is roll everything up and they’re good to go. The soft, supple leather comes in a variety of fun colors and patterns. 

A cult-favorite cast-iron skillet

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet - gifts under $50

Lodge 12-inch Cast-Iron Skillet and Handle Holder, available at Amazon, $29.99

Every cook needs a cast-iron skillet in their kitchen. Lodge makes some of the best out there, but at prices that won’t break the bank. 

A fitting vehicle for their post-run brews

etched marathon pint glass - gifts under $50

Etched Marathon Pint Glass, available at Uncommon Goods, $20

If they like to celebrate a long run with a big pint, they’ll appreciate these pint glasses etched with famous marathon routes. 

A candle that reminds them of their favorite place

homesick scented candle - gifts under $50

Homesick Scented Candle, available at Amazon, $34

This is a great gift that’s sure to make anyone sentimental. Whether it’s their hometown, college town, or favorite spot to vacation, a Homesick candle, with scents inspired by all sorts of locations, will bring them back to that favorite place. 

A cold brew coffee maker to keep up with their iced coffee habit

Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker - gifts under $50

Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker, available at Amazon, $19.99

If their morning ritual includes a cup of cold brew, they’ll appreciate this convenient cold brew maker. All they have to do is fill it with their favorite coffee grinds, add water, let it sit, and they’ve got a glass of delicious cold brew on the way. 

A rocks glass etched with a city map

uncommon goods urban map glasses - gifts under $50

Urban Map Glass, available at Uncommon Goods, $18

Whether you want to bring back fond memories of a place you visited together or just want a gift that highlights their favorite stomping grounds, you can cheers to these rocks glasses intricately etched with a city map and interspersed street names. Over 30 major US cities are available to choose from.

To really up the ante, consider pairing the glass with a nice bottle of bourbon

A dainty pair of gold hoops that go with everything

midi gold hoops - gifts under $50

Midi Hoops, available at Mejuri, $50

Jewelry always makes a great gift, though it’s typically pricey. These dainty hoops from Mejuri are the perfect pair for every day, and they’re only $50.

An apron loaded with plenty of clever features

food52 aprons - gifts for wife

Five Two Ultimate Apron, available at Food52, from $25

Anyone who spends a good amount of time in the kitchen will appreciate this durable apron with its sturdy fabric, clever pockets made to hold the essentials, and pot-holders built right in. 

A lifetime of perks with an REI membership

REI membership - gifts under $50

REI Membership, available at REI, $20

A one-time, $20 payment will get them lifetime access to REI’s membership program. The outdoorsy types in your life will appreciate the special offers, 10% back on purchases, member-pricing on REI classes and events, and the host of other membership perks. Learn more about the REI membership program here

A simple and elegant photo calendar

walnut photo calendar - gifts under $50

Walnut Desktop Photo Calendar, available at Artifact Uprising, from $35

All of Artifact Uprising‘s customized photo gifts are simple, beautiful, and made from eco-friendly materials. This simple calendar is an easy choice for anyone on your list. Just pick 12 photos (one for each month) of the people and places they love most to add a special sentiment to their desk setup.

A cozy, slouchy beanie

neff beanie - gifts under $50

Neff Beanie, available at Amazon, $15.95

Cold-weather accessories make a great gift for anyone who will be braving the cold come winter. Neff beanies come in a wide variety of colors and are the perfect combination of cute and cozy. 

An easy way to grill kabobs

kebob grilling baskets- gifts under $50

Kabob Grilling Baskets, available at Uncommon Goods, $20

Forget needing to spend time sticking every piece of meat or sliced veggie on a kebob stick. These baskets make it easy to perfectly grill you food and the basket makes for easy flipping.

A simple necklace that reminds them of their intentions

necklace with word optimism - gifts under $50

Good Intentions Necklace, available at Amazon, $38

A sweet necklace with an even sweeter mission. Choose from a selection of positive intentions like “optimism,” “strength,” or “gratitude,” which they can carry with them throughout the day. For every necklace sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the non-profit Girls Inc.

A cult-favorite candle

otherland candle - gifts for wife

Otherland Candles, available at Otherland, $36

We love Otherland’s candles, whether seasonally inspired or from the classic collection. Notable scent combinations such as champagne, saffron, and leather, gorgeous packaging, and a 55 hour burn time have deemed Otherland’s candles as a foolproof gift among the Insider Reviews team.

An elevated hand sanitizer that fends off germs

hand sanitizer touchland - gifts under $50

Power Mist Hand Sanitizer, available at Touchland, $9

A lightweight, spray formula and refreshing scents make Touchland’s hand sanitizer one they’ll actually want to use. It dries quickly and doesn’t leave residue or stickiness behind.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 17 winners of the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards, from Amanda Gorman’s poetry to Sally Rooney’s newest novel

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

Pattern of Goodreads Choice Award Winners, including Crying In H Mart, Firekeeper's Daughter, Empire of Pain, and Beautiful World Where Are You
The books that won the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards span categories like fiction, romance, sci-fi, memoir, poetry, young adult, and best debut.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

  • Every year, the Goodreads Choice Awards lets readers pick the best books of the year.
  • This year, over 4.7 million votes were cast across 17 categories.
  • From fiction to fantasy, here are the best books of 2021, according to Goodreads members.

Goodreads is an online book reviewing platform where over 125 million readers rate, review, and share their favorite books with friends and the community. Every year, Goodreads hosts their highly anticipated “Goodreads Choice Awards,” where members vote in multiple rounds to narrow 20 choices down to one per genre. 

In 2021, Goodreads members cast over 4.7 million votes to determine their favorite reads across 17 categories from fiction and fantasy to history and horror. With countless five-star ratings and rave reviews, here are the best books of 2021, according to Goodreads reviewers.

The 17 winners of the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards:

Best Fiction

"Beautiful World, Where Are You" by Sally Rooney book cover

“Beautiful World, Where Are You” by Sally Rooney, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.80

In this novel about sex, love, and friendship, four friends are entangled in different kinds of romances that fascinate readers. Full of complex personalities and interesting conversations, this novel is perfect for anyone who also loved Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel “Normal People.”

Best Mystery & Thriller

"The Last Thing He Told Me" by Laura Dave book cover

“The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to slip his new wife, Hannah, a note reading “protect her,” clearly referring to Owen’s 16-year-old daughter, Bailey. When the FBI arrests Owen’s boss and shows up unannounced to their home, Hannah and Bailey find themselves caught in a tangle of secrets and are left searching for the truth about who Owen truly is.

You can read our interview with the book’s author, Laura Dave, here.

Best Historical Fiction

malibu rising

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.80

In August 1983, the famous Nina Rivera and her three siblings are preparing to throw their epic annual end-of-summer party. Nina could not be looking forward to it less, having just been left by her tennis-pro husband. Switching between their childhood and the present, this novel uncovers the siblings’ shared history while traversing a night that will change all of their lives forever.

Best Fantasy

"A Court of Silver Flames" cover

“A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.84

A Court of Silver Flames” is the final book in the hugely popular “A Court of Thorns and Roses” series, which began as a “Beauty and the Beast” retelling. In this novel, Nesta is still trying to find her place with her new role in the High Fae world but must overcome her haunting past, her complicated feelings toward Cassian, and the threats brought about by human queens.

Best Romance

The cover of People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

“People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.98

Alex and Poppy have been best friends since college when a summer road trip brought them together and spurred years of annual summer vacations. But two years ago, everything changed between them. Though they haven’t spoken since, Poppy is determined to get her best friend back and suggests one last trip for them to seek a new start.

Best Science Fiction

"Project Hail Mary" by Andy Weir book cover

“Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.49

In this immersive sci-fi read, Ryland Grace wakes up on a ship in space with no memory and two dead crewmates beside him. As his memories start to return, Ryland realizes he is on a desperate, last-chance mission to save humanity, millions of miles from home with an extinction-level threat to conquer ahead of him.

Best Horror

"The Final Girl Support Group" book cover

“The Final Girl Support Group” by Grady Hendrix, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.78

This unique horror/thriller book focuses on “final girls” — the ones who fight back and survive horrible murders, emerging as trauma-burdened heroines. In this story, Lynnette Tarkington and five other “final girls” have been meeting and healing in a support group for years — until something terrible happens to make their worst fears come true.

Best Humor

The cover of Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

“Broken (in the best possible way)” by Jenny Lawson, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.66

Jenny Lawson is an American journalist and blogger who does not hide the fact that she suffers from depression and anxiety. In this heartfelt and hilarious memoir, Jenny shares personal anecdotes about her physical and mental health journey towards healing.

Best Nonfiction

the anthropocene reviewed

“The Anthropocene Reviewed” by John Green, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.80

Though John Green is best known for his bestselling young adult books like “The Fault in Our Stars,” he also hosts an acclaimed podcast with his brother. Originating from podcast conversations, this nonfiction work is a collection of essays about the Anthropocene era — the current geological era where human activity has severely impacted our planet.

Best Memoir & Autobiography

The cover of Crying in H Mart

“Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.16

In this beautiful and moving memoir, Michelle Zauner grew up as one of the few Korean American kids at her school, finding solace in her grandmother’s kitchen in Seoul while carrying her mother’s high expectations of her. When her mother receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, Michelle begins a journey of reckoning, forging her own identity from her childhood experiences, lessons from her mother, and dreams for her future.

Best History & Biography

"Empire of Pain- The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty" by Patrick Radden book cover

“Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty” by Patrick Radden Keefe, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $25.99

Empire of Pain” is a history and biography of the Sackler family, one of the richest families in the world, who were once known for their charitable donations until the origin of their fortune was uncovered. Meticulously researched and told with an enthralling voice, this nonfiction read documents the Sackler family’s rise to riches through the creation of OxyContin and, ultimately, the opioid epidemic.

Best Graphic Novels & Comics

"Lore Olympus" book cover

“Lore Olympus: Volume One” by Rachel Smythe, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.99

Originally an online comic series, this fantastical graphic novel portrays the love story of Hades and Persephone in a romantic and stylized reimagining. With stunning visuals and a fresh angle, Rachel Smythe brings this well-known Greek myth to life.

Best Poetry

"The Hill We Climb - An Inaugural Poem for the Country" by Amanda Gorman

“The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country” by Amanda Gorman, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.58

Amanda Gorman is the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate and delivered her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the Presidential Inauguration in January. Passionate and inspiring, this poem aims to bring hope to Americans despite the chaos in the world.

Best Debut

“The Spanish Love Deception” by Elena Armas, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, from $15.99

Catalina Martín needs to quickly find a boyfriend to bring to her sister’s wedding in Spain. Although he’s gorgeous, she really does not want to bring her pain-in-the-butt colleague, Aaron Blackford, but might have no other choice in this fan-favorite, enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy.

Best Young Adult Fiction

"The Firekeeper's Daughter" book cover

“Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.23

Firekeeper’s Daughter” focuses on 18-year-old Daunis Fontaine, a biracial and unenrolled tribal member who witnesses a terrible murder. When the FBI begins to investigate, she goes undercover to conduct her own investigation in this intense journey loved for its strong characters.

Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction

"Rule of Wolves (King of Scars Duology)" by Leigh Bardugo book cover

“Rule of Wolves” by Leigh Bardugo, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.78

Rule of Wolves” is the concluding novel in Leigh Bardugo’s “King of Scars” duology, where the Demon King, the Stormwitch, and the Queen of Mourning are each affected by war and looking to create a brighter future. The newest addition to the adored Grishaverse world, this novel is perfect for any reader looking to get lost in a new and impeccably built fantasy world

Best Middle Grade & Children’s

"Daughter of the Deep" book cover

“Daughter of the Deep” by Rick Riordan, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99

In this middle grade retelling of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” Ana Dakkar is a freshman at Harding-Pencroft Academy, hoping she has what it takes to succeed and make her late parents proud. When a terrible tragedy occurs while her class is on a bus ride to a ship, a long-time feud between schools boils over — with Ana and her class caught in the middle.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The invisible hand: A concept that explains hidden economic forces in the market

Line graph with arrow, representing the market unknowingly guided by an invisible hand
The invisible hand theory assumes that consumers are rational when making economic decisions. But that’s not always the case.

  • The invisible hand is a concept that was coined by economist Adam Smith to illustrate hidden economic forces.
  • The invisible hand is a metaphor that describes the unseen forces that impact the free market through actions based on individual self-interest.
  • In theory, consumers basing decisions on self-interest creates a positive outcome for the economy.
  • Visit Insider’s Investing Reference library for more stories.

The invisible hand concept was an idea proposed by economist Adam Smith that illustrates the hidden forces behind people’s economic choices. It is a foundational concept for rational choice theory, which states that people will make decisions based on their own personal self-interest and benefits. 

Understanding the invisible hand and how it works

The metaphor of the invisible hand is used to describe the underlying forces that we don’t see that have an impact on people’s economic choices. As part of the concept, Smith said that people act in their own best interest, which ultimately benefits the economy as a whole. The theory is often used as a backbone to support the idea of a free market, though some have said in the past that the idea is taken out of context

According to Michael Edesess, Ph.D. and managing partner and special advisor at M1K LLC, “The best example of how it works was given by Smith himself in that book: ‘It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.’ He followed that up by saying, ‘By directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.’ These are the two most famous quotes from Smith’s long book.”

Smith adds that people act with their own regard and interests in mind and not with an ulterior motive, but can have positive and unexpected repercussions.

“In other words, Smith was saying that by solely pursuing their own self-interest — and not any conscious intention to be of help to others — and by trading with each other, the butcher, brewer, and baker all help each other to provide the goods they need for their dinners,” explains Edesess.

The invisible hand concept is closely related to laissez-faire economics, which proposes that government interference in the economy should be minimal and should run its own course. Based on these ideas, as people act based on their own self-interest, it creates a need for supply and demand and can create a competitive and robust marketplace. 

“Smith’s invisible hand theory shows that an optimal distribution of goods and services among a number of producers and consumers can be achieved without a ‘visible hand’ directing them to do so,” says Edesess. “In fact, a visible hand that does things like dictating prices of goods can cause the end result to be suboptimal. This mistake was made crystal clear in the Communist-era Soviet Union.”

How the ‘invisible hand’ affects the economy

The invisible hand concept is based on the idea of free markets and is said to benefit consumers by creating market equilibrium by people pursuing their own self-interest. 

In theory, people acting based on their own interests creates supply and demand and market efficiency, creating a positive outcome for the whole of the economy. Without government intervention, the markets work on their own based on consumer preferences and actions.

However, the invisible hand theory assumes that consumers are rational when making economic decisions. But that’s not always the case. As humans, we don’t always behave logically but based on emotions or need. Consider any time you have gone to the grocery store and overspent because you’re hungry or sleep-deprived.  

Additionally, some critics note the possibility of greed and exploitative practices that could be justified due to “self interest” and the invisible hand. 

“The invisible hand promotes individual self-interest and competition. While this sounds nice, in practice, it’s not actually a good thing, because economic theories also point out the ‘irrational consumer’ making choices say emotionally, impulsively, with incomplete information, and most importantly, generally not being mindful in the moment of what’s best for the overall good of society,” says Nick Thorsch, founder of environmental sustainability platform Share2Seed.

While Smith’s invisible hand theory is still relevant today, it has also come under scrutiny during the Great Recession and financial crisis of 2008. Given the current pandemic, economic fluctuations and crypto boom, there is more debate about the role of government in the market. 

In other words, if left unchecked, do consumers really create the best results for the economy when there is no government interference? Or could it lead to greed or economic collapse? 

Examples of how the invisible hand works 

In theory, the invisible hand inherently creates a free marketplace that supports competition among consumers and works out for the best for everyone. 

“In contrast to the invisible hand, the heavy hand of government which seeks to direct what is best for others will do so in a far less efficient manner than the individual will for themselves,” says Nicholas B. Creel, M.A, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D. and assistant professor of accounting and business law at Georgia College and State University. 

“An example of this would be how a business owner, seeking only to make themselves better off, might sell an item of higher quality and at a lower price than his competitors,” he explains. 

Keeping prices low may increase demand and create competition among other suppliers offering similar products. 

“He doesn’t do this for the consumer, he does so to win the business of the consumer to make himself better off. The end result is everyone is best off in this scenario. The consumer gets a better and cheaper product, the market maximizes efficiency, and the business owner stays afloat,” explains Creel. 

The financial takeaway

The invisible hand theory is an important economic concept that is still relevant today. It can offer an explanation into free markets and consumer behavior. While the concept is important, it’s also often used out of context or in a way that’s out of alignment with Smith’s original text. 

“Smith’s theory has been misinterpreted by some modern lay economists and even some professional economists to mean that the unfettered pursuit of self-interest will always produce an optimal result, without any attention whatsoever to communal interests or to altruism, and that government intervention is always bad,” says Edesess. “This aberrant strain of economics has been recently dubbed ‘market fundamentalism.'”

So while the invisible hand plays an important role in the economy and economic history, it’s important to look at the nuance and current economic conditions as well.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Our team tests hundreds of products and services every year — here are our 30 favorites from 2021

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Breeo smokeless fire pit with pan of green beans, sausage, and chicken, and bread toasting, best products we tested in 2021
  • The end of the year calls for reflection, and 2021 certainly came with as many ups and downs as any.
  • All along, the Insider Reviews team stayed on the hunt for the best products and services around.
  • Here are our favorites from this year.

The Insider Reviews team spends all year long testing the products and services we think are worthy of your investment. While we test and recommend hundreds of things in any given year, some stand out for reasons as varied as the list below. As a result, they might become top picks in our guides, the subjects of impassioned reviews, or both.

We asked our colleagues across all of our verticals what caught their attention most in 2021. From tech must-haves, style and beauty picks, travel essentials, and home and kitchen items to fitness gear and outdoor gadgets, these are the products we loved.

Here are the 30 best products we tried in 2021:

A heavy-duty wifi-controlled pellet grill

A Trager Ironwood pellet grill on a wooden porch in front of cedar shingles, beside patio furniture

Traeger Ironwood 650 Pellet Grill, available at Home Depot, $1399.95

It seems like pellet grills are the latest and greatest of grilling implements, and any barbecue brand with its nose in the wind is joining the party. And so they should; pellet grills impart the most flavor with the least possible input or mess, and you can dial your temperature and your smoke level while monitoring thermometer probes from your couch.

But while I tested six for our forthcoming guide, Traeger’s Ironwood series stood out most. The convection feature (an electric fan) has kept the temperature as consistent as any grill, and the hardware could care less whether you leave it out in the rain, sleet, or snow. The lid also makes a perfect seal where similar models tend to leak smoke around the edges. I’ll be having fun with this grill and putting it to work all winter long. — Owen Burke, home and kitchen reporter

Read our guide: The 6 Best BBQ Smokers in 2021

 

A does-it-all kitchen knife

Benchmade Station knife, the best all-purpose kitchen knife in 2021 as part of testing for the best kitchen knives

Benchmade Station Knife, available at Benchmade, starting at $280 (customizable)

Of all the products I’ve tested this year, the Benchmade has been the one that has helped me declutter my dangerously overstocked kitchen. It has the brunt force and heel of a full-sized chef’s knife, but the fine tip and precision of a paring knife while being the rough length of a utility or boning knife, and it really is the best of all three. I’ve put all of my knives away save for a lone bread knife and Benchmade’s Station Knife. 

I’ll be using it until it gets dull, and then I’ll send it back to Benchmade for a free cleaning and sharpening, at which point I’ll pull out a few other backup knives. I have a feeling, though, that they’ll be swiftly returned to the drawer once I have the Station Knife back in my hands. Read more about it in our guide to kitchen knives here. — Owen Burke, home and kitchen reporter

Read our guide: The 6 best kitchen knives we tested in 2021

 

A film, battery, and electronics recycling service

Hands placing bags of plastic film and batteries into a Ridwell recycling container

Ridwell subscription, $12 per month

I’ve long been a wish-cycler, optimistically throwing just about everything into my recycling bin. Then a friend tweeted about getting her plastic film picked up by Ridwell, and I realized, uh-oh. I’ve been doing it wrong. For $12 a month, the service picks up plastic film, batteries, and other difficult-to-recycle materials. I was shocked at how much plastic I accumulate. It’s only available in Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and Denver, Colorado right now, but here’s hoping it expands soon. — Jenny McGrath, home editor

An online market for quality, niche groceries

thrive market box

Thrive Market subscription, $59.95 for a yearly membership or $9.95 on a monthly basis

I live in a small town where you have to go out of your way to find quality, niche groceries like Maldon salt or oat milk. I finally signed up for Thrive Market since it works out to only $5 a month for the yearly subscription, and it’s made grocery shopping vastly easier. In addition to being able to order all the things my local stores don’t carry, I love Thrive’s own brand for staples like tea, olive oil, and cleaning supplies. Plus, all items have reviews, so you know, say, the EVOO is high-quality. — Rachael Schultz, health editor

A comfortable, lightweight backpack cooler

hydroflask day cooler

 Hydro Flask Day Escape Soft Cooler, available at Hydro Flask, $199.95

Hydro Flask launched the Day Escape backpack cooler this past summer and it’s easily one of the most useful items I now own. The cooler itself is very well designed with comfortable back padding and shoulder straps and a wide, zippered mouth that’s easy to pull cans and reusable containers in and out of. It’s very lightweight but structured, which makes it convenient to carry when you want to keep food and drinks cold, especially if you’re going to the beach or to friends’ cookouts. But I actually like it most as a car cooler; because it sits upright on its own and is so easy to access, it’s ideal for grabbing chilled road trip snacks and beverages out of the backseat. — Rachael Schultz, health editor

An enjoyable craft cocktail in a can

An Avec Drinks Jalapeno and Blood Orange Can surrounded by jalapenos and blood oranges, the best products we tested in 2021

Avec Drinks cocktail mixers, available at Avec Drinks, 12-pack for $36

Making fancy cocktails is fun, but sometimes you just want to pour alcohol and a single mixer. Avec makes unique flavors, like jalapeño and blood orange, and suggests which spirits to pair them with. They’re delicious on their own, too, so you can offer them to guests who aren’t drinking alcohol. — Jenny McGrath, home editor

A pet urine odor eliminator

One gallon of Uricide pet urine odor eliminator

Uricide Pet Odor Eliminator, available at Amazon, $79.99

I have three dogs and only an 11-square-foot patch of artificial turf in my backyard for them to use. Even with immediate cleaning, It didn’t take long for my lawn to get stinky. I’ve tried a few different enzymatic outdoor solutions, but nothing has done the job quite like Uricide. After spraying it on our yard, all strong odors were eliminated and replaced with a pleasant fresh scent. It lasted about two weeks before I had to go in and reapply — a better track record than any other product I’ve tried. — Sarah Saril, tech deals and streaming reporter

A does-it-all countertop oven

The Anova Precision Cooker on a kitchen counter cooking a steak, as part of testing for the best toaster oven in 2021

Anova Culinary Precision Oven, available at Anova, $509.99 (usually $599.99)

The Anova Precision Oven is a toaster oven but so much more. In addition to doing the usual baking, roasting, and air frying, this unit also steams food and can be used for sous vide without any need for vacuum sealing. It also has smart connectivity so you can start it preheating as you drive home from work, and the included probe allows you to monitor the internal temp of your food from anywhere. I like to use it for making perfectly-done steaks. — James Brains, home and kitchen reporter

A surprisingly affordable meal kit delivery service

EveryPlate beef banh mi bowl, our favorite products of 2021

EveryPlate meals, starting at $5 per serving

Being someone who hates grocery shopping, a meal kit is a great solution for saving time and money. After researching a few different options, we tried EveryPlate in our household and loved it. For only $5 a serving, each meal comes with the essential ingredients for your recipe, plus detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to make it. I paused my membership for the holidays, but I will inevitably resume it because it’s just so easy and convenient. On the off chance that I have issues with my delivery, EveryPlate support is also easily available and hassle-free. — Sarah Saril, tech deals and streaming reporter

A commemorative edition of The Legend of Zelda on a retro Nintendo console

The Nintendo Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda on a wood table

Game & Watch The Legend of Zelda, available at Best Buy, $49.99

The latest hardware release from Nintendo isn’t actually the Nintendo Switch OLED, but even more recently this lovely little gaming gadget and digital clock. Modeled after Nintendo’s classic Game & Watch handheld games, this version commemorates the 35th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda franchise with the first three games in the series pre-installed in the $50 console. The device can track time on an included cardboard stand, and is filled with easter eggs and secret codes to discover, making it an excellent holiday gift for the nerds in your life this year. — Joe Osborne, tech and electronics senior editor

A travel-friendly white noise machine for sleeping

Yogasleep Hushh Portable White Noise Machine, book, passport, keys, and other items on counter.jpg

Yogasleep Hushh Portable White Noise Machine, available at Amazon, $25.99

The Yogasleep Hushh Portable White Noise Machine brings soothing white noise wherever we go with our baby, like when we take walks, run errands, or visit friends. It even helped during a power outage when our usual white noise machine wasn’t running. — Antonio Villas-Boas, senior tech and electronics reporter

A best-value Google Pixel

Google Pixel 5a thumbnail 4x3

Google Pixel 5a 5G, available at Amazon, $484.57

Google’s Pixel 5a 5G has the best balance of performance, camera quality, and value among every phone we’ve tested in 2021. Paying more for a phone would produce rapidly diminishing returns. — Antonio Villas-Boas, senior tech and electronics reporter

A premium set of noise-canceling earbuds with impressive battery life

The Sony WF-1000XM4 outside of their case on a glass table

Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds, available at Amazon, $248

At $249, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are premium earbuds designed for listeners willing to pay extra for the best performance. But their sound quality and noise cancellation are second to none, and they have a long battery life. — Antonio Villas-Boas, senior tech and electronics reporter

Our favorite noise-canceling earbuds for Android users

Colorful Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, available at Best Buy, $109.99

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 deliver incredible sound and noise-canceling performance for their price. The only problem is that there’s no iOS app, which makes them best-suited for Android users. — Antonio Villas-Boas, senior tech and electronics reporter

Our pick for the best high-end 4K TV

Sony A80J OLED 4K TV on a TV stand.

Sony 65-inch A80J OLED 4K TV, available at Best Buy, $2199

Sony’s latest OLED TV is one of the most impressive displays I’ve tested. The gorgeous screen delivers stunning contrast, and the set’s advanced processing creates an incredibly accurate image. It’s a bit pricey at full retail price, but it’s worth the money for anyone who prioritizes picture quality. — Steven Cohen, tech and streaming editor

Read our guide: The 5 best 4K TVs in 2021 for sharp, colorful images and reliable streaming

A low-profile wireless charger for Android phones

Moshi Otto Q

Moshi Otto Q Bundle, available at Amazon, $39.95

This wireless charger charges at 18W, which makes it better suited for Android phones, as iPhones will only charge at 7.5W with non-Apple wireless chargers. Still, the Moshi Otto Q’s tasteful design and fabric cover make it an excellent wireless charger for any phone user for casual charging on desks or overnight. — Antonio Villas-Boas, senior tech and electronics reporter

A classic vanilla syrup to liven up your home coffee

A bottle of Torani vanilla syrup with coffee, our favorite products we tried in 2021

 Torani Vanilla Coffee Syrup, available at Target, 12.7 ounces for $5.49

My coffee set-up may be simple, just a French press and a hand-me-down milk foamer, but with Torani Vanilla Syrup, I feel like a barista. To make my favorite coffee shop drinks at home, I need less than a tablespoon of the vanilla syrup heated with my milk or in the bottom of iced coffee. The flavor isn’t too artificial or too sweet — the vanilla complements the coffee without overpowering it. — Lily Alig, junior home and kitchen reporter

A quiet laptop with a long battery life

MacBook Air red open

MacBook Air, available at Apple, $999

Apple’s latest MacBook Air is among its first laptops to come with the tech giant’s own M1 chip instead of an Intel processor, bringing big improvements to performance and battery life. The new MacBook Air may have the longest battery life of any laptop I’ve ever personally used; it lasted for more than 12 hours on a single charge. The M1 chip also makes the MacBook Air feel impressively fast for a laptop of its size and price. And since it’s fan-less, you don’t have to worry about your laptop sounding like a jet engine once it’s under a little bit of stress. It was honestly hard to find anything bad to say about the new MacBook Air, except for the fact that unlike Windows device makers, Apple doesn’t offer the option for a touch screen. — Lisa Eadicicco, former senior tech correspondent 

Read our review: Apple’s new MacBook Air blew me away with its long battery life and fast performance, but missing features hold it back from its full potential

Our favorite new gaming monitor

Image of LG 48-inch CX OLED 4K TV on a console in a room with all-time best badge

LG C1 OLED, available at Best Buy, $1199

LG’s OLED display has become my favorite screen for gaming, whether I’m using the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, or my PC. The HDR color accuracy and high refresh rate make it an ideal TV for next-gen gaming, outperforming top-rated monitors. — Kevin Webb, gaming and streaming reporter

Read our review: The best monitor for gaming might actually be this LG OLED TV

Our mattress reporter’s favorite new mattress

Sleep Number bed with Insider All-Time Best badge

 Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed, available at Sleep Number, queen sizes starting at $3299

As Insider Reviews’ main mattress tester, I have to test a new mattress every two weeks. But, if given the option, I would spend every night on the Sleep Number 360 i8. I like that I can adjust the firmness of the two sides of the bed independently so my wife can have her firmer feel, and I can enjoy my softer feel. Plus, it has an optional feature that automatically adjusts the firmness as you shift positions in the night. It even tracks your sleep and offers recommendations for a better rest. — James Brains, home and kitchen reporter

A customizable tile welcome mat

Someone wearing shoes standing on a Tile Mat with the word 'Insider' written on it

The Tile Mat, available at West Elm, $75

Letterfolk’s Tile Mat has been a game-changer for my entryway. The customizable mat lets me bring some creativity into my doorway while always looking clean and aesthetically pleasing. I’ve used the mat and hexagon tiles to write elaborate messages for my roommates, welcome visitors in, and celebrate the holidays. — Lily Oberstein, associate story producer

Read our review: I tried the bright, customizable doormat that’s all over social media, and it’s my new favorite piece of decor

A cast iron skillet with superior heat retention

Cornbread baked in the best overall cast iron skillet, the Field 10.25” Cast Iron Skillet.

Field 10.25″ Cast Iron Skillet, available at Field, $145

Since testing it and ranking it number one in our guide to the best cast-iron skillets, I have used the Field Skillet almost every time I cook. I sauté a lot of vegetables, and the Field’s superior heat retention means I can load up the pan with several layers of veggies and they all come out evenly cooked. Plus, the seasoned surface is easy to maintain and isn’t damaged by a little scrubbing. — Lily Alig, junior home and kitchen reporter

Read our guide: The best cast-iron skillets

Pain-relieving bed sheets

Sleepletics

Sleepletics Celliant Performance Sheet Set, available at Amazon, $149.99

When I’m not testing sheets, the Sleepletics Celliant Performance Sheet Set is what I use and recommend to friends and family. The sheets are made from Celliant-infused polyester yarns that convert body heat into infrared energy, which then promotes increased blood flow and reduces recovery time for sore muscles. I tend to sleep hot, but these sheets keep me cool. They also feel nice and soft. I’ve washed them a dozen times, and they haven’t shown any wear. — James Brains, home and kitchen reporter

Read our review: I tried a set of [$149] bed sheets designed to reduce muscle and joint pain while you sleep — and they actually helped

A quiet, user-friendly food processor

The Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor with accessories best food processor

Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro, available at Amazon, $399.99

Prior to testing seven top models for our guide, I rarely used food processors. But, after using this fancy Breville model to grate and shred cheese, slice potatoes, ground beef, mix dough, chop vegetables, and emulsify mayo, I’m a convert. Prepping latkes for Hanukkah was easier than ever thanks to the quick shredding disc. Plus, it runs quieter than most food processors. — James Brains, home and kitchen reporter

Read our guide: The 3 best food processors we tested in 2021

A kitted-out serving board for cheese and charcuterie

A wooden Bambusi cheese board with fruit, crackers, cheese, and a built-in utensil tray

Bambusi Cheese Board, available at Amazon, $59.99

My friends and I are obsessed with charcuterie boards and this cheese board and knife set is my go-to serving tray for wine and cheese nights. It also comes with slate cheese labels to add to the board when it’s filled with salami and cheese. I consistently give this cheese board as a gift for any occasion. — Anna Popp, home and kitchen fellow

Read our guide: I love charcuterie so much that I have an entire collection of serving boards — here are my top 5

A custom shampoo and conditioner service

Function of Beauty

Function of Beauty custom shampoo and conditioner set, available at Function of Beauty, starting at $19.99

I am in a constant battle with my long, curly, thick, and frizzy hair so I was excited to use a shampoo and conditioner set that was curated specifically for my hair’s needs. After taking the hair quiz and receiving my custom set of shampoo and conditioner, I’ve noticed that the color of my hair is brighter and my curls are less frizzy and loose. It’s not the cheapest subscription service, but I think it’s well worth the money. — Anna Popp, home and kitchen fellow

Read our review: Function of Beauty makes it easy for anyone to customize their shampoo and conditioner — here’s how it worked on 4 different hair types and textures

A small but impressively precise manual coffee grinder

Comandante manual coffee grinder with detachable glass and plastic jars

Comandante C40 MK4 coffee grinder, available at Specialty Turkish Coffee, $309

Lance Hedrick of Onyx Coffee Lab and 2020 UK Brewer’s Cup champion Matteo D’Ottavio grilled me for not having tried this grinder, so when the new iteration came out I hopped to it. After making talcum-powder-fine grounds for an impeccable Turkish coffee, perfectly dialed espresso grounds, and equally uniform but coarse French press grounds, I’m pretty much sold. I’ll have a full review up soon, but in the meantime, this is a great addition to your on-the-go-kit and minimalistic kitchen alike. — Owen Burke, home and kitchen reporter

A quality masala marinade for easy at-home Indian dishes

Packets of Moji Masala with spices and herbs strewn about, best products we tried in 2021

Moji Masala marinades, available at Moji Masala, starting at $10

If you’ve ever tried to make rogan josh from scratch, you know it takes seven or eight ingredients for the spice blend alone. Moji Masala has a dozen types of spice packs for making Indian dishes like dahl and tandoori chicken. Each brightly colored package serves between two and five people, and there’s a QR code on the back that sends you to a video to show you how to make the easy-to-follow recipes. — Jenny McGrath, home editor

A grit-free French press that separates the grounds from your coffee

Flask's glass French press at the Specialty Coffee Expo 2021

Planetary Design 17-ounce French press flask, available at Amazon, $100

I’ve tested well over a dozen French presses for our guide, and frankly, I’m almost invariably bored with the options out there. Glass, plastic, or stainless steel, the plungers are always about the same. Here’s something different, though: a plunger that immediately stops the brewing process and offers French-press-style brew with pour-over quality refinement, and no sludge. — Owen Burke, home and kitchen reporter

Read our guide: The 4 best French presses we tested in 2021

A (virtually) smokeless firepit and cooking station

Breeo smokeless fire pit with pan of green beans, sausage, and chicken, and bread toasting, best products we tested in 2021

Breeo smokeless fire pits, available at Breeo, starting at $349

I cook over a wood fire as much as I possibly can — it’s great for entertainment and an easy excuse to bring the party outside, which is my objective whenever possible. There are plenty of similar designs out there (I also love the Kudu, which is mostly better for cooking, especially when standing up), but this one, which comes in stainless or Corten steel, comes with an optional outer ring that works great for searing and toasting. All sorts of fun concoctions can be dreamt up upon this “SearPlate,” and it’s exceptionally fun to use. While this firepit doesn’t come with a cover, it’s stood up to wind, rain, and snow for a few months and there’s not a single sign of rust yet. It’s also our fire pit guide’s top recommendation. — Owen Burke, home and kitchen reporter

Read our guide: The 5 best fire pits of 2021 to keep warm in the backyard or while camping

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best winter coats for kids in 2021

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Assortment of best winter coats for kids in 2021 laid out in a circle on the ground
Our top picks for the best kids winter coats include styles from Patagonia, Amazon, L.L.Bean, Columbia, and Buckle Me Baby.

Kids lose body heat faster than adults. But kids can also generate more body heat by moving around and playing — something that’s hard to do when bundled in too many bulky layers. That’s why the best winter coats for kids are warm yet also lightweight and durable enough to withstand an entire winter of active play.

Linda McGurk, author of “No Such Thing As Bad Weather,” says she looks for versatile coats that work for many winter activities. “I look for durability and function first of all — an all-around jacket that can be used for a lot of different types of winter activities and works for school,” she said. “The outside must protect against the weather even during harsh conditions and rough outdoor play.”

To find the best kids winter coats, I talked to three outdoor experts and a nationally certified child passenger safety instructor.  I then researched the top-ranked winter coats that offered warmth, moisture resistance, durability, comfort, and, for babies and toddlers, car seat safety. Price, of course, is a consideration for many families. I chose coats over $100 only if they offer more than one season of wear with excellent durability and extendable sleeves. 

I put 10 of those top coats to the test with my three kids, from trekking through muddy pumpkin patches to climbing trees. Read more about my testing process and how Insider Reviews tests and researches products.

Here are the best winter coats for kids in 2021

Best kids winter coat overall: Patagonia 4-in-1 Everyday Jacket, $169 on Patagonia
Its versatile, durable design means the Patagonia 4-in-1 Everyday Jacket is the only coat that most kids need year-round.

Best kids winter coat on a budget: Amazon Essentials Heavy-Weight Hooded Puffer, from $33.83 on Amazon 
Finding an affordable coat that’s both warm and durable is a tough task, but the Amazon Essentials Heavy-Weight Hooded Puffer hits all the must-haves.

Best kids fleece-lined coat: L.L.Bean Down Jacket, $99 on L.L.Bean 
The L.L.Bean Down Jacket is a well-insulated down puffer that’s a great choice for kids who have a tendency to get cold fast and in areas with harsh winters.

Best kids ski jacket: Patagonia Snowshot Jacket, $199 on Patagonia 
The incredibly lightweight Patagonia Snowshot Jacket will keep kids warm and dry without hindering their movement.

Best winter coat for toddlers: Buckle Me Baby Toasty, from $59.99 on Amazon 
The Buckle Me Baby Toasty is a warm winter coat without the collar and hood that many toddlers don’t like and, thanks to its unique design, it’s car-seat friendly.

Best winter coat for babies: Columbia Tiny Bear II Bunting, from $29.99 on Amazon 
The Columbia Tiny Bear II Bunting covers infants head to toe in warm fleece and, in many cases, is safe for the car seat.

Best kids winter coat overall

two images side by side: one of child wearing tan and navy blue colorblock hooded coat and one of coat laid out with navy blue fleece lining showing

Its versatile, durable design means the Patagonia 4-in-1 Everyday Jacket is the only coat that most kids need year-round.

Pros: Winter coat, lightweight jacket, and raincoat in one; durable outer shell; weather-sealed zippers; warm insulation; lightweight design

Cons: Girls version lacks chest pocket

The Patagonia 4-in-1 Everyday Jacket is a pricey option, but it’s the only coat kids need year-round and should last older kids at least two years thanks to its extendable sleeves and durable design. When my 9-year-old daughter wore this coat on a fishing trip in 40-degree windy weather, she outlasted the adult on the boat without a complaint. 

Many 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 coats use a basic fleece inner layer without any waterproofing. But, in addition to the Patagonia 4-in-1’s waterproof polyester exterior, the removable inner jacket is also finished with a water-resistant taffeta. 

With both layers combined, the coat has adjustable cuffs and an inner drawstring at the waist to keep snow out as well as a full hood and warm collar. The interior jacket, when worn alone, also functions great as a rain jacket and a spring or fall coat. This jacket uses a warmer, comfortable shearling pile fleece that can be worn facing inside or out, which is what makes this coat a 4-in-1 instead of a 3-in-1. 

Of note, we tested the boys version, but the girls size has a softer high-pile fleece lining, lacks the chest pocket, and has a different seam style. When it is time to size up, Patagonia also has a trade-in program to get a new discounted jacket.

Best kids winter coat on a budget

two images side by side: one of child wearing pink puffer coat with leopard print and one of coat laid out with pink fleece lining showing

Finding an affordable coat that’s both warm and durable is a tough task, but the Amazon Essentials Heavy-Weight Hooded Puffer hits all the must-haves.

Pros: Well-insulated, waterproof, cuff with thumbhole, snow collar, lots of colors and patterns

Cons: Only partial fleece lining, not as durable or versatile as a 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 coat

I spent hours researching coats under $50 that were both warm and waterproof. Many didn’t look warm or had questionable durability — others had fewer features and less insulation in the girls versions. The Amazon Essentials Heavy-Weight Hooded Puffer is a fleece-lined puffy coat that has lots of insulation, plus features like wrist cuffs and a snow collar. 

Overall, I was impressed with this coat for how little it costs. It’s not quite as warm as some pricier options, but still seems warm enough for snow play. The puffer consists of a polyester exterior with synthetic polyester insulation. Part of the interior torso area is lined with fleece. The areas below the snow collar and inside the sleeves are lined with a polyester material similar to the exterior. 

While all puffy coats have a tendency to rip more easily than ski jackets and all-in-one coats, this budget coat has so far survived tree-climbing and rough play unscathed. My daughter says it has kept her warm in the fall weather that we’ve had so far, including a 40-degree windy day. Pricier coats with more insulation will be a bit warmer. I preferred the L.L.Bean Down Jacket’s warmer insulation and fuzzy soft lining. 

There are several different colors and patterns to choose from. In fact, this coat is my 6-year-old’s favorite, largely because it comes in her favorite pattern and color: pink cheetah.

Best kids fleece-lined coat

two images side by side: one of child wearing blue, magenta, pink colorblock hooded puffer coat and one of coat laid out with magenta fleece lining showing

The L.L.Bean Down Jacket Colorblock is a well-insulated down puffer that’s a great choice for kids who have a tendency to get cold fast and in areas with harsh winters. 

Pros: Very warm, comfortable, lightweight, gender neutral 

Cons: Not as durable and versatile as an all-in-one coat

Ginny Yurich, founder of the 1000 Hours Outside movement, says that down is nature’s best insulator, but it can’t trap heat once wet. The L.L.Bean Down Jacket Colorblock, however, is filled with treated down that doesn’t absorb moisture so the coat insulates very well, even in wet conditions. It kept my daughter warm on a school field trip even with on-and-off misty rain.

The Colorblock seemed to be the warmest of all the puffy coats that we tested. The down fill is paired with a high-pile fleece lining. My daughter, who refuses to wear stiff materials like jeans, says that the coat is very comfortable. It also has nice soft cuffs that cover part of the hand to help keep snow and cold out. 

The downsides to this coat are true for every puffer coat: The exterior fabric isn’t as durable and it’s not as versatile as an all-in-one coat. But, the coat has so far held up nicely, without tears or stains. With real down inside, the coat will also occasionally shed small feathers, particularly after a wash. 

The Colorblock is a unisex design and is available in purple, blue, or yellow, with toddler, little kid, and big kid sizes available.

Best kids ski jacket

two images side by side: one of child wearing hooded blue coat and one of coat laid out with matching blue lining showing

The incredibly lightweight Patagonia Snowshot Jacket will keep kids warm and dry without hindering their movement.

Pros: Lightweight insulation, water-resistant, removable hood, media and ski pass pockets

Cons: Expensive

The Patagonia Snowshot is great for active kids in need of a lightweight coat. When I first pulled it out of the box, it felt more like a spring jacket — despite its 150g polyester insulation and durable waterproof shell. 

That lightweight insulation without the loft of a down coat makes the Snowshot comfortable for both the slopes and active outdoor play. And my 9-year-old had no complaints about the cold while wearing this coat. We tested the boys version, but there is a girls version, which is called the Snowbelle.

Like the 4-in-1, the Snowshot feels very durable, down to the nice moisture-sealing around the zipper. To keep wind and snow out of the sleeves, the Snowshot has soft cuffs with a thumb hole and a snow collar that buttons around the waist. It also has well-thought-out pockets, including a top pocket with an opening for headphones and a ski pass pocket on one sleeve. The removable hood has a second elastic layer that helps keep it from falling down. 

When it comes to the downsides, this is just a winter coat. The expense of the 4-in-1, which has a softer lining but is heavier, is easier to justify. The Snowshot does, however, have Grow Fit, so you can snip a seam and make the sleeves 2 inches longer, and it is eligible for Patagonia’s trade-in program.

Best winter coat for toddlers

two images side by side: one of toddler standing outside wearing gray puffer coat and one of child wearing coat in car seat

The Buckle Me Baby Toasty is a warm winter coat without the collar and hood that many toddlers don’t like and, thanks to its unique design, it’s car-seat friendly.

Pros: Car seat friendly, no collar or hood for picky toddlers, warm, waterproof

Cons: Velcro doesn’t always stay put, less warm due to lack of collar

Bulky winter coats and car seats don’t mix —  pediatrician Alisa Baer, a nationally certified child passenger safety instructor, says coats can introduce as much as 3 to 4 inches of extra slack in a harness. The Buckle Me Baby Toasty Car Seat Coat eliminates the hassle of removing and putting on a toddler’s coat every time you travel by car. Its unique design means the entire front and shoulders of the coat are outside of the car seat straps; the only part of the coat in the seat is the back panel.

The coat, which is made with fleece, polyester insulation, and a water-resistant exterior, was actually warmer than I expected — it kept my toddler warm while he played in 40-degree weather. When worn with an extra layer underneath, I expect this coat will be warm enough for snow play in colder temperatures. 

A downside for some: Because the coat lacks a collar and hood, it offers less protection against the cold. But I actually prefer this because my toddler doesn’t tolerate collars and hoods. My biggest complaint about this coat is that the velcro at the shoulders didn’t always stay closed, especially when my toddler protested wearing it. 

If you will not be using the coat in a car seat, we recommend our pick for the best fleece-lined coat, the L.L.Bean Down Jacket, which is very warm and lightweight.

Best winter coat for babies

two images side by side: one of toddler wearing orange fleece onesie with hoodie with ears and one of snowsuit laid out on ground

The Columbia Tiny Bear II Bunting covers infants head to toe in warm fleece and, in many cases, is safe for the car seat. 

Pros: Built-in gloves and booties, car seat safe when sized appropriately, cute animal hood, head-to-toe coverage, affordable

Cons: No water resistance, not heavy enough for extended snow play

I first tried the Columbia Tiny Bear II Bunting as a car-seat-safe layer when my son was an infant, but its convenience extends beyond the car seat. Although the bunting is thin, it covers the baby from head to toe to provide warmth. With built-in booties and gloves, you don’t even have to put shoes on pre-walkers. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a thin, snug-fitting fleece layer to keep infants warm in the car without the dangerous bulk of a winter coat. However, it’s essential to note that any outer layer worn in a car seat should be properly fitted and tested to ensure safety. Read more about how to test a coat for car seat safety at the end of this article.

Besides being thin and warm, the Tiny Bear II Bunting’s fleece also feels very comfortable. The material washed well and didn’t stain when muddied. And the bear ears on the hood are just adorable.

Although this a great coat for running errands with a baby, the bunting isn’t made for extended wear in below-freezing temperatures or for playing in the snow. But, since most pre-walkers aren’t sitting in the snow or spending long periods outdoors in cold weather, we prioritized car seat safety. 

For longer stretches outdoors, the Tiny Bear Bunting II makes a great base layer under a heavier coat. If you are looking for a coat, I love the Primary Baby Puffer Suit, which still has the fold-over mittens and booties but is thicker than others, making it less ideal for use in a car seat.

What else we’ve tested

a black, pink, and pink and purple coat laid out on ground alongside a blue puffer snowsuit

I’m currently testing 10 different kids winter coats with my 9-year-old, 6-year-old, and 2-year-old. As my kids spend more time playing in each one, our picks may change. But, for the initial few weeks of use, these coats didn’t quite make it to the top:

  • Columbia Whirlibird II: This ski jacket is lightweight and waterproof. With 80g of insulation, it’s not as warm as our top pick and my daughter thought it felt a little too stiff. It is a durable option that’s a bit more affordable than the Snowshot
  • Primary Baby Puffer Suit: This is a great choice if you plan to take your infant out in the cold for long stretches of time. It’s warm but lightweight enough for them to move in and includes fold-over booties and mittens. However, it’s not the best choice for use in a car seat. 
  • All in Motion Short Puffer Jacket: My son really likes the boys version of this jacket. It’s affordable and still fairly warm. I love that it has built-in glove clips. However, the girls version isn’t identical and reviewers have complained that the bell-shaped waist lets in cold air.
  • The North Face Snowquest Triclimate: 3-in-1 coats are great for toddlers because the inner jacket tends to be car seat safe. My son liked this coat and it’s nicely weather-sealed. The only insulation is the double-sided fleece jacket, however. It’s also pricey for this age group.
Our kids winter coats testing methodology

I spent a month testing 10 coats with my three kids, ages 9, 6, and 2, in fall in Michigan. These coats were tested during rough and dirty play, including climbing trees, fishing, school recess, and trekking through a muddy pumpkin patch. I’m continuing to test each coat throughout the winter as snow falls and temperatures dip. Here are the tests we’ve completed:

  • Waterproofing: I gave each coat several sprays from a water bottle at the zipper area to see how the coat may stand up to rain and melting snow.
  • Warmth: These coats were tested in weather in the mid-40s, sometimes with a lower windchill. Testing will continue in lower temperatures as winter hits.
  • Comfort: Can the child move around easily in this coat? Is it too stiff or bulky? These were questions that I considered during the first few weeks with these coats.
  • Car seat safety: Would the coat follow our pediatrician’s guidelines for a car seat safety? The toddler and infant categories were checked for fit inside of a rear-facing harness car seat.

As testing continues, I will also be considering:

  • Warmth: I will test these in snowy conditions and below freezing temperatures.
  • Durability: All 10 of these coats held up well during the first month of use and one or two washes. I will continue to inspect the coats for tears and signs of wear.
How to choose a winter coat for a child

A child’s smaller body loses heat faster than adults. But, on the flip side, a child that’s actively playing in the snow may generate more body heat and be warmer than an adult who’s simply supervising the fun. So, how do parents determine how many layers a child needs to stay warm? What should parents look for when choosing a coat for kids? When shopping for a child’s winter coat, consider the materials, design, warmth, waterproofing, layers, and fit.

Materials: A coat’s materials play a big role in how much heat is retained. The ideal material is warm, but doesn’t make a coat that is too bulky to play in. McGurk prefers synthetic down alternatives that hold heat well, unlike down which loses the ability to hold heat when wet. What a coat is not made from is also important. McGurk recommends coats with water-repellant coatings that do not contain perfluorochemicals (PFCs). PFCs do not break down in the environment, and lab animals exposed to large doses experienced adverse effects, according to a CDC fact sheet.

Design: The design of the coat is also essential to consider. Winter coats for children tend to fall into one of these categories:

  • A puffy coat is light and easy to play in, but it needs to be paired with an outer shell, such as a rain jacket, in order to be waterproof. An outer shell will also protect the coat from tearing, which is common with puffy coats.
  • Three-in-one coats have a warm inner layer, often made of fleece or polyester, and a waterproof outer layer. Both layers can be worn at once for winter play, while the inner jacket works well for cool fall days and the outer jacket can be worn alone as a raincoat or windbreaker.
  • Other winter coats are designed as a single garment consisting of both a waterproof outer layer and insulation for warmth. These coats are less versatile but may be easier for young children to zip than 3-in-1’s with their multiple zippers.

Warmth and waterproofing: Always consider the climate the coat will be worn in. For wet, cold winters, McGurk says a waterproof, windproof coat is a must. The colder the climate is, the more insulation parents will want to look for. For all climates, a coat that’s breathable will help keep active kids from overheating.

Layers: Coats for outdoor play should have enough room for layers underneath. In the coldest temperatures, winter coats work best with layers. For babies and younger children who are unable or unlikely to tell you if they are too warm or hot, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using one more layer than an adult would be comfortable in. Yurich recommends using merino wool as a base layer — it is warm but wicks away sweat.

Fit: Parents should also consider how a coat fits. A well-fitting coat will allow a child to move around and play. If the sleeves are creep up on the wrists, the coat is too small, McGurk says. If the sleeves cover the hands, the coat is too big. Some coats have a clever extend-to-size feature, which allows you to snip some stitching to make the sleeves longer. Both McGurk and Yurich say they tend to go up one size to get two or more seasons out of a coat and to allow enough room for layers underneath. Sizing up can also help make the cost of a coat more reasonable.

Winter coats and car seat safety

Parents should never size up when looking for a coat that’s safe to wear in a car seat. A large, thick coat can create as many as 3 to 4 inches of extra slack in the car seat straps. This increases the chances of injury in a car crash, explains Alisa Baer, cofounder of car seat safety advocacy organization The Car Seat Lady and a nationally certified child passenger safety instructor. The force of a car crash takes all the extra puff out of a coat. When that happens, the car seat straps or seat belt that once looked snug no longer fit properly and the child may move more in an accident or even slip out of the restraints.

To determine if a coat is safe for a car seat harness, use Baer’s Chalk Test (you can follow along with this video). With the child wearing the coat, buckle them into the seat and properly tighten the straps. Use a piece of chalk and mark where the tail strap — the strap that you pull to tighten the harness — comes out of the seat. Then remove the coat and buckle the child, tightening only to the chalk line. If you can pinch the straps or fit more than one finger underneath, then the coat is too bulky and should not be worn in the car seat.

Older children and even adults are also safest without buckling a seat belt over a bulky coat, Baer says. In the front seat, a belt tensioner locks in a crash, pulling the belt tight against the body. That removes the tension from the strap. However, most back seats do not have a belt tensioner, so coats will introduce extra slack. Even with a belt tensioner, all seat belts will work better without an overly large coat, Baer says.

Of course, cold is dangerous to a child as well, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says that a thin, snug-fitting coat such as a fleece jacket can be both safe in a crash and in the cold. A thin jacket along with a hat and gloves can keep a child warm when walking from the car to a building. Layering with a long-sleeve onesie and fleece leggings also helps, Baer says. Bring a warm winter coat to slip on over the fleece jacket for outdoor play or in the event the car breaks down.

Our sources

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‘Punch Me Up to the Gods’ is Brian Broome’s first memoir — and it just won the 2021 Kirkus Prize. Here’s how he wrote the book, from utilizing writing communities to reading James Baldwin.

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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Author Brian Broome next to his book, "Punch Me Up To The Gods" 4x3
We spoke to author Brian Broome about his Kirkus Prize-winning memoir, “Punch Me Up to the Gods,” his experience with addiction and recovery, and finding community in writing.

  • Brian Broome is the author of the 2021 Kirkus Prize-winning memoir “Punch Me Up to the Gods.” 
  • We spoke with Broome about writing his first full-length memoir.
  • Broome also mentions various works by authors within his community that inspired him.

Brian Broome is the author of the vulnerable 2021 memoir “Punch Me Up to the Gods,” which recently won the Kirkus Prize for best non-fiction and received literary accolades from the New York Times’ Editors’ Pick to Amazon’s best books of 2021.

It’s not every day that an author’s first full-length memoir wins recognition upon recognition — but if you read “Punch Me Up to the Gods,” it’s clear why Brian Broome’s work is such a hit. In a way that enlightens and educates readers, Broome dives deeply into his own personal experiences growing up as a Black, Queer man in Ohio, from his childhood friend telling him that Blackness is represented by hypermasculinity to his father teaching him to suppress his tears. “Black boys have to be tough but, in doing so, we must also sacrifice our sensitivity, our humanity,” he sums up in the first chapter.

Sensitivity and humanity, however, seem to be an asset in Broome’s writing process, which he describes as both “a lonely pursuit” and a cathartic means of coping. Growing up, Broome enjoyed writing but was told it was a strange pastime because he was a boy and “should’ve been playing baseball or football.” In adulthood, writing has helped him shed the sense of conformity he felt when he was younger.

It’s exactly what makes Broome’s story so powerful: The very skills that he was taught make him weak actually make his story stronger — Broome’s vulnerability and personal experience compel readers to approach his words with a curious and empathetic lens, eager to learn more. 

A black and white headshot of Brian Broome
Brian Broome’s first full-length memoir, “Punch Me Up to the Gods,” speaks candidly about Broome’s experience growing up as a Black, Queer man in Ohio.

When speaking to Broome, it’s obvious that writing is incredibly valuable to him, whether as a means of processing the ongoing pandemic (during which he edited most of his memoir) or guiding him through his years of sobriety. 

We spoke to Broome to learn more about how his personal experiences, favorite books, and writing community shaped “Punch Me Up to the Gods.”

Writing serves as an emotional outlet and a way to communicate with the people Broome loves the most.

The author, Brian Broome, in a purple collared shirt and black sweater, leaning against a red bus
Broome saw the publication of “Punch Me Up to the Gods” as equally exciting and anxiety-inducing.

Although writing “Punch Me Up to the Gods” was cathartic for Broome, he’s also transparent on how the writing process — and sharing this writing with the world — is equally anxiety-provoking in how vulnerable you have to be. 

“It’s difficult to embarrass yourself or to admit to your own shortcomings,” says Broome. “The day before publication, I had a bit of an anxiety attack when it hit me that I had committed so much of my own dirt to paper, for potentially thousands of people to read.”

Ultimately, Broome has found this process to be productive and worthwhile. “My family and friends now have a better understanding of why I was such a nightmare for so many years, and we can now have more honest conversations about my life and theirs,” he says. “This helps to keep me clean and sober.”

Famous figures in Black literature greatly influence Broome’s writing.

Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks’ famed poem, “We Real Cool,” is featured in Broome’s memoir.

“Punch Me Up to the Gods” is uniquely influenced by Broome’s own experiences while also pulling inspiration from many different works he admires. Broome is quick to mention Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, “We Real Cool,” which also appears at the start of the memoir. The introduction that precedes it — by poet Yona Harvey — speaks of the impact James Baldwin has had on Black writers, and how “Punch Me Up to the Gods” is framed around Baldwin’s influence constantly appearing throughout the memoir.

Broome also credits James Baldwin for bringing visibility to Queer people of color. Baldwin’s novel, “Giovanni’s Room” was “the first gay story I’d ever read,” says Broome. “I remember being excited with the knowledge that gay stories and people could be that beautifully rendered.”

james baldwin
James Baldwin, one of the authors who inspired Broome as a writer.

He goes on to share that “even more than his writing, I have always been enthralled by Baldwin’s seeming defiance to live in a world that told him in so many ways that he shouldn’t exist. It’s always that that inspires me about him and so many other queer people of color. The refusal to apologize for existing the way that we are born.” 

While he writes alone, Broome relies on writing communities to stay inspired and connected to other writers.

The author, Brian Broome, speaking on a panel
Broome finds that the various panels he speaks on bring him closer to his community of writers.

Although writing can feel especially lonely during a global pandemic, Broome cares about the writers and works who’ve inspired him. At the time of the interview, he was preparing for the 1455 Project, a literary arts event that celebrates the art of storytelling.

Broome had the opportunity to speak on a virtual panel at the 1455 project with several creatives he admires. “I’m taking part in the event because I know what it’s like to sit in that room and then write something,” says Broome, going on to explain that events like the 1455 Project connect writers that may create on their own, but can learn from and motivate one another.

To describe the connection between storytelling and community, Broome points to bees. Once bees return to the hive after pollination, they will act out their pollination processes to the other bees in the hive. “Even bees tell stories,” says Broome — to him, his community of writers is his hive. 

Through community, Broome has been able to find strength in his writing, his recovery, and himself. “When I was in rehab and I was struggling with drugs and alcohol, I was really waiting to die,” he says. “And now the sun is shining, and I just got off the treadmill, and I’m speaking to you.”

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The 6 best mechanical keyboards of 2021 for faster typing and better gaming

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Collage of the best mechanical keyboards, including Logitech, Razer, and HyperX 4x3

Mechanical keyboards use a physical switch under each key rather than a membrane or rubber dome. Besides offering a satisfying “clicky” feel, mechanical keyboards are more accurate for fast typists.

People who type fewer than 150 words per minute won’t see much of an improvement by ditching the membrane keyboard, says Tom Gilmore, the technology education coordinator at Free Geek, an electronic recycling and refurbishing nonprofit. But fast typists will gain more accuracy. “The robust construction of each switch also lends itself to being much more durable in terms of the number of times that a key can be pressed before it wears out,” he adds.

The feel of the switch is a matter of preference, so mechanical switches come in different variations. Besides the amount of pressure required to push each switch, the different types of keys also have a different feel and noise to them.

As a writer, I regularly type for several hours a day. The wrong keyboard can quickly introduce more typos and cause wrist and shoulder strain. To find the best mechanical keyboard, I consulted experts, fellow Insider writers, and dozens of professional reviews on the top-ranked options. I then tested nine of the top-ranked mechanical keyboards, spending several hours typing on each one. Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and researches tech products.

Here are the best mechanical keyboards you can buy:

Best mechanical keyboard overall: Logitech G915 TKL, $174.64 on Amazon
The Logitech G915 TKL features many tools and tricks that are rare in mechanical keyboards, and it’s easily usable for both office typing and PC gaming.

Best cheap mechanical keyboard: HyperX Alloy Origins 60, $79.99 on Amazon
The HyperX Alloy Origins may be a gaming keyboard, but it is a small, $100 keyboard with a design and build quality that suggests a much steeper price.

Best mechanical keyboard for gaming: Razer Huntsman Elite, $129.99 on Amazon
The Razer Huntsman Elite is designed for hardcore gamers who need the most speed as well as the most fine-tune control.

Best full-size mechanical keyboard: Logitech G513, $129.99 on Best Buy
The Logitech G513 is a premium, fast, and reliable mechanical keyboard that’s well priced for most people.

Best tenkeyless mechanical keyboard: SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL, $114.99 at Walmart
The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL features quality materials, is comfy to type on, and it’s generally approachable in price in terms of full-size.

Best quiet mechanical keyboard: Das Keyboard 4 Professional, $169.00 on Amazon
With designs for Mac and Windows, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional is a comfortable, all-around performer.

Best mechanical keyboard overall

Logitech G915 Mechanical Keyboard — best mechanical keyboard overall
Originally $229.99 | Save 24%
Originally $229.99 | Save 22%


The Logitech G915 TKL includes several features that are difficult to find on mechanical keyboards, plus it’s versatile enough to work for office use or gaming.

Pros: Wireless connectivity, long battery life, great low profile keys, excellent build quality, fast response

Cons: Pricey, some users may prefer taller keys, no included wrist rest

Mechanical keyboards are power-hungry, which makes the wireless connectivity so common in membrane keyboards difficult to find. The Logitech G915 TKL Lightspeed wireless mechanical keyboard, however, has enough battery to last through a full workweek of typing. While that makes it the best wireless mechanical keyboard that I tested, the other features, like low profile keys and a durable build, make it my favorite overall keyboard of those I tested. 

The low-profile keys on the G915 feel more like a cross between the smooth keys of my Macbook and the clicky feedback of a mechanical keyboard. The keys aren’t the traditional big and chunky kind, sitting at about half the typical height. Despite the size, there’s a definite click and tactile feedback to them. While some users may prefer the larger keys, I liked the smooth, yet tactile feeling of using this keyboard. I also prefer the Tenkeyless design, which keeps hands more centered, rather than hunched to one side of the keyboard. 

There are two ways to connect the keyboard. Logitech says that it’s Lightspeed Wireless technology allows for a response in 1 millisecond. I don’t notice any lag while typing, and while some gamers may still prefer the speed of a physical connection, that’s fast enough for the keyboard to cross over from the office to gaming. The Lightspeed wireless requires a USB dongle, but Bluetooth connectivity is also available (just not at 1 millisecond) so you can use the keyboard without taking up any USB ports or on compatible mobile devices.

The G915 TKL is well-built. The top plate is a beautiful brushed metal, while the bottom has two different kickstands of varied heights The keyboard also houses a nice metal scroll wheel for volume, media keys, buttons to switch between Bluetooth and wireless connection. The backlighting, which can be customized with software, can be turned off with a quick key at the top. Lights at the top indicate when the battery is getting low and when caps lock is activated. 

While the Logitech G915 TKL is a great keyboard, it’s one of the pricier options. Users that want a mechanical keyboard because they like taller keys will also want to choose another option on this list. 

Best cheap mechanical keyboard

HyperX Alloy Origins 60 Mechanical Keyboard — best cheap mechanical keyboard
Originally $99.99 | Save 20%
Originally $99.99 | Save 20%


The HyperX Alloy Origins is a compact, $100 keyboard with a build quality that feels like it costs much more.

Pros: Sturdy aluminum body, great clicky feel, arrow shortcuts are still easy to use, fast response for gaming

Cons: Some users will miss those arrow and number keys, lacks a wrist rest

Mechanical keyboards tend to be much pricier than their membrane siblings. But if you don’t mind giving up some number and arrow keys, you can get a great mechanical keyboard for $100. The HyperX Alloy Origins 60 doesn’t feel cheap, with an aluminum body that easily bests some of the pricier full-sized keyboards. If you are looking for an affordable mechanical keyboard, look closely at the HyperX Alloy Origins 60. 

Despite the lower price, it still builds in RGB lighting, which can be customized using software. Designed for gamers who want to maximize desk space, the HyperX Alloy Origins also feels very responsive with its USB connection. It’s also more portable, both because of the 60 percent size and the USB-C cord being removable to slip more easily into a computer bag. 

A 60% keyboard does away with the numberpad like a tenkeyless but goes one step further and removes the arrow, function, and command keys to the right of the Enter key on a typical keyboard. This keyboard makes up for those missing keys via shortcuts. For example, you need to press the Fn key and the ? key for the up arrow. These shortcuts are labeled and still easy to press with one hand.

I like the overall feel, durability, and compact size of the HyperX Alloy Origins. It’s impressive for a $100 keyboard. While the 60% design isn’t for everyone, the smaller profile may be worth considering for maximizing desk space, centering the keyboard for better ergonomics, or simply getting that lower price point.

Best mechanical keyboard for gaming

Razer Huntsman Elite mechanical keyboard — best mechanical keyboard for gaming
Originally $199.99 | Save 35%
Originally $129.99 | Save 23%


The Razer Huntsman Elite is made for serious gamers who need the most speed.

Pros: Fast response, comfortable wrist rest, great clicky feel, media controls

Cons: Pricey

Razer added an optical sensor to each switch on the Huntsman series, replacing the traditional mechanical switches. You get the feel of a mechanical keyboard but at a much faster speed with the Razer Huntsman Elite. But, besides the speed, it also has a super-comfortable wrist rest, media controls, and a great overall feel.

Available with linear or clicky switches, the keyboard uses switches designed by Razer rather than  third-party switches, like Cherry MX. Razer says the switch has a shorter actuation distance than other similar switches. That means you don’t need to press the keys far. Though it’s a gaming keyboard, it’s also great for general typing. The plush wrist rest makes this keyboard comfortable for a long day of writing.

The Huntsman Elite offers a full set of keys, including extra controls for media and a custom dial. It allows gamers to create custom macros quickly and easily switch between modes. The Elite has custom backlighting and can save five user profiles — plus more can be saved in cloud storage. The keyboard is constructed with an aluminum top plate, giving it a more durable feel. It’s pricey, but you can instead get those fast switches in models with a smaller design and fewer features, such as the Huntsman Mini.

Best full-size mechanical keyboard

best keyboard logitech g513

The Logitech G513 is a well-built, responsive mechanical keyboard that’s reasonably priced.

The Logitech G513 is a slightly older model, but it delivers some flagship-like features without the price. The keyboard has a good, chunky tactile feel for the price. I tested the version with Blue switches, which have a great click to them. The G513 is a full-sized keyboard with a number pad, though it lacks extras like media playback controls.

Using Logitech’s own tactile, clicky, or linear switches , the keys have a bit of a different feel than the common Cherry MX options. I like the feel and click of the GX Blue switches. But, if you are looking for a quieter mechanical keyboard, try this keyboard with the quieter GX Brown switch option. While it’s not a top-of-the-line model, the keys are also quick enough for gamers to consider this keyboard.

Customization options include both the function keys and per-key RGB lighting. The keyboard includes a USB pass-through port, but you don’t gain an extra spot to plug in peripherals because the keyboard needs two USB ports to enable that “extra” port.

Best tenkeyless mechanical keyboard

SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL - best tenkeyless mechanical keyboard
Originally $129.99 | Save 2%


The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is well-built, comfortable, and affordable.

Pros: Affordable, compact, built-in OLED display, responsive

Cons: USB cord isn’t long enough for ports on opposite sides of a laptop

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL sits at a happy medium between price and features. Retailing for about $130, it still includes a durable build, great clicky keys, and even a built-in OLED screen. It’s a good option for those looking for the smaller TKL size but at a more affordable price then the wireless Logitech G915 TKL. 

I tested this keyboard with the red switches. The keys have a great feel to them. There’s both tactile feedback and an auditory click that allows me to type quickly with relatively few mistakes. I didn’t care for the space key, which was significantly louder and firmer than the rest of the keys.  

Considered a gaming keyboard, it’s also quite responsive and customizable. There’s a mini display at the top that can be used to show settings and profiles. The screen settings, as well as the colored backlighting, can be customized with software. Besides the screen, this small keyboard doesn’t go overboard on extras. There’s a handy little volume wheel and a button to select options on that mini screen.

The Apex 7 TKL still leaves room for a USB pass through. However, you’ll need to plug in the keyboard to two USB outlets, so the pass through allows you to just gain one of them back. Unfortunately, the split portion of the USB cord isn’t long enough to use with my MacBook Pro, which places the second USB port on the opposite side. You’ll want a device that has two USB ports on the same side in order to be able to use all the features and plug in both USB ports.

Best quiet mechanical keyboard

Das Keyboard 4 Professional — best quiet mechanical keyboard

With designs for Mac and Windows, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional is a comfortable, all-around performer.

Pros: Quieter switches, classic layout, media buttons, two USB pass through ports

Cons: More plasticky build, no backlighting

Read our full Das Keyboard 4 Professional review

With a classic layout, a sturdy build, and a click that isn’t overly loud, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional is an excellent yet versatile mechanical keyboard. The Das Keyboard 4 comes in a PC or a Mac version, so keys like command and Windows will be properly labeled for your system. It’s a full-size, 104-key layout with a numeric pad and the addition of a nice-sized volume dial and a few media keys.

The version with Cherry MX Brown keys offers that mechanical feedback without annoying anyone that happens to be nearby. This keyboard is one of the quietest mechanical keyboards that I tested. However, there is still a small click — if you want something super quiet, membrane keyboards are still going to lead the way.

The full-sized keyboard will take up more room on your desk. But my favorite feature is that it only takes up one USB port yet offers two USB pass-through ports on the body of the keyboard itself. If you want a keyboard that actually gives you one more USB than you already have (rather than simply replacing the one that it’s occupying), the Das Keyboard 4 Professional is a good option.

While it feels great and is quiet, the build is a bit more plastic than some of the other options that I tried. It doesn’t have any sort of backlighting, and the small white letters are a little harder to see than the colorful backlit ones. But for the mix of comfortable typing, system-specific layouts, and build quality, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional stands out.

How to choose a mechanical keyboard

Key type plays a big role in the overall feel of the keyboard in your hands. Mechanical keys come in three main types, Free Geek’s Tom Gilmore explains:

  • Linear switches are a simple switch type. When you press a key, a circuit is completed, which is what gets that signal to the computer.
  • Tactile switches add a bump to a linear switch. This creates tactile feedback so you can physically feel that the key has been fully pressed.
  • Clicky switches are tactile switches but with auditory feedback as well. As the name suggests, you get a louder click with this switch type.

There’s more than just the basic switch type. Different types of switches will also vary depending on the amount of pressure that you need to use them. This creates variety even among, say, two tactile switches. Pressure sensitivity is measured in grams (g) or centinewtons (cN). “A lighter key (say 45 cN) will be easier to press than a heavier key (60 cN), which can be beneficial for writers or others who type a lot,” Gilmore said. “The lower pressure allows for a faster keypress and less finger fatigue — yes, that is a real thing — for a more efficient workday. A heavier key, however, gives a lot more feedback to the typist and can make people feel more connected to their computer and the work that they are doing.”

Many companies use Cherry switches. Cherry MX has several colors with different feels. The MX Red is quieter without feeling any physical feedback, MX Brown is quieter but tactile, and MX Blue has both physical and auditory feedback. Some companies design their own switches. Some people will prefer one type of switch over another. If you have no idea what type of switch you want, a switch sample costs around $20 and lets you test the sound and feel of different types. 

Outside of the keys, consider features like size and connectivity as well as extras like a built-in wrist pad. “A built-in wrist pad keeps your wrist in a neutral position, not flexed or extended,” said Kevin Weaver, a clinical assistant professor of physical therapy at New York University.

Mechanical keyboards glossary of terms

Tenkeyless, or TKL: A tenkeyless, often abbreviated TKL, is a keyboard that doesn’t have the extra numeric pad at the side. While these keyboards do not have the extra set of numbers, they keep the user’s hands more centered, which can be more comfortable for users that don’t regularly use the number keys.

60 Percent Keyboard: A 60 percent keyboard eliminates both the extra set of number keys and the arrow keys and the nine keys above them, which includes things like a page up, home, and delete button. Instead, shortcuts are used to replace those keys. For example, pressing a Fn button with another key works as arrow keys. 60 percent keyboards also use the row of numbers to double as the F keys.

Macros: Macros are saved key combinations. Macros are user-designed, but some keyboards have faster, easier ways to customize. Macros are great features for users who regularly use certain keyboard shortcuts or combinations.

USB Pass-through: A USB pass-through is an extra USB port on the keyboard. You can use this port to plug in things like USB drives and external hard drives, similar to the USB slot on the computer itself.

Wireless keyboard: A wireless keyboard is connected to a computer wirelessly using a USB dongle. While there are no wires on your desk this way (unless you are charging) it does still take up a USB port.

Bluetooth keyboard: A Bluetooth keyboard connects using the device’s Bluetooth. Unlike wireless, this means that you don’t need to occupy a USB slot and you can connect to devices without any USB ports at all, such as tablets.

Linear switch: When a linear switch is pressed, it completes a circuit to send a signal to the computer. This is a type of mechanical key.

Tactile switch: When a tactile switch is pressed, a circuit is completed just like with a linear switch, but there’s also a tactile bump. This gives the user physical feedback that the key was fully pressed.

Clicky Switch: A mechanical clicky switch is just like a tactile switch, except there’s added noise. This gives the user both physical and auditory feedback indicating that the key was fully pressed.

What else we considered

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT: With smooth typing and some gaming-focused extras, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT receives some good praise from the gaming community. It lacks the custom pressure keys and optical-mechanical design of the other $200 gaming keyboards on this list, however.

Razer Huntsman Mini: This keyboard is the Huntsman Elite but in a 60% size. Our first impressions of this option are good, though the build quality doesn’t quite seem as good as our top pick. The split USB cord also isn’t long enough — it needs a device with two USB ports next to each other. Read our full Razer Huntsman Mini review.

SteelSeries Apex Pro: The SteelSeries Apex Pro has customizable switches that allow gamers to set up profiles for whether they want a firmer, more accurate push, or a lighter, faster push. I preferred the more plush wrist rest of the Razer Huntsman, however, and the USB split wasn’t long enough to reach ports on opposite sides of my MacBook.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best kids’ tablets in 2021 for learning at home, playing games, and streaming entertainment

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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Collage of the best tablets for kids, including iPad, Amazon, Fire 8 and Samsung Galaxy Tablet 2x1

There are a few advantages that the best tablets for kids have over regular tablets that make them much more ideal for young users. Sure, you can always go for whatever tablet is on hand and within your budget, but parents know that it takes more than availability and affordability to make kids happy.

Although much like regular tablets with access to a diverse catalogue of content, these kid-friendly tablets often put a lot more emphasis on apps, games, movies, and shows that cater to kids. That’s really the key here; otherwise, the kids will get bored within minutes. Of course, having parental controls is also important to keep your kids away from harmful content and control screen time, as is having an affordable price tag and a robust build – preferably something with a rugged housing and long battery life. 

You’d be wise, therefore, to invest in one of the best tablets for kids. It’ll entertain and educate your kids for a couple of hours or less a day, allowing you a bit of time to take care of your other responsibilities or just have a much-needed breather. Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and researches tech products. Here are our top picks below.

Here are the best tablets for kids:

Best tablet for kids: Apple 10.2-inch iPad, $329 on Apple
The 10.2-inch iPad is the best tablet for kids with a big screen, loads of apps and games, and long battery life.

Best small tablet for kids: Apple iPad Mini, $499 on Apple
The perfect size for a portable tablet, the iPad Mini also packs a punch and offers access to a vast library of apps and games.

Best Android tablet for kids: Samsung Galaxy Tab A, $149.99 0n Best Buy
The Galaxy Tab A8 offers kids Android in all its glory with Google Play Store access.

Best value tablet for kids: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition, $139.99 on Amazon
A big screen without a big price tag and a library of age appropriate content make the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition a solid choice.

Best small value tablet for kids: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, $89.99 on Amazon
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is affordable, packed with age appropriate fun, and offers effective parental controls.

Best tablet for very young kids: Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition, $59.99 on Amazon
Affordable, durable, and ready to entertain your young children, the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition is a good first tablet.

Best tablet for kids

ipad 2019 10.2 cyber monday deal
The 10.2-inch iPad is great for kids with its big screen, many apps, and parent-friendly features.

The 10.2-inch iPad is the best tablet for kids with a big screen, loads of apps and games, and long battery life.

Pros: Easy to use, large screen, loads of kid-friendly content available, long battery life, excellent performance, compatible with Apple Pencil

Cons: Expensive, parental controls not as extensive, doesn’t come with a bumper case

Apple’s tablets have long ruled the roost, and deservedly so, as they offer elegant design, slick software, and strong performance. All those combined make the 10.2-inch iPad our top pick of the best tablets for everyone, not just the small humans.

As a kids’ tablet, however, the 10.2-inch iPad is easy to use, has up to 10 hours of battery life, and comes in an aluminium body that is reasonably tough – though a rugged case is still advisable especially if younger kids are its primary users. The real star of the show here is its display, which is bright, sharp, and responsive. 

Because of Apple’s extensive app and iTunes libraries, there’s no shortage of kid-friendly content to choose, from educational apps and games to music, movies, and TV shows created for kids. 

Since individual pricing for movies or games can be steep, you should consider subscription services like Apple TV+, and you can always install Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services that you’re signed up to. Apple Arcade also offers a selection of quality games like Sneaky Sasquatch, free of adverts or in-app purchases, for $5 per month. 

A great choice if you’re already invested in Apple’s ecosystem, the 10.2-inch iPad will also let you share content with the whole family and manage certain security settings easily from your iPhone using Apple’s parental controls. 

Storage in the 2020 version is limited to 32GB in the base model, however the fresh 2021 base model – which we’re testing now – comes with 64GB to start. You’ll have to get the $480 iPad with 256GB of storage if you plan on storing lots of games and other content locally on the iPad itself. Still, if you have the budget for the standard 10.2-inch iPad, a case, and kids content, there’s no doubt this is the best tablet for kids of all ages.

Best small tablet for kids

Apple_iPad_Mini

The perfect size for a portable tablet, the iPad Mini also packs a punch and offers access to a vast library of apps and games.

Pros: Powerful, portable, long battery life, and a huge choice of high-quality apps and games, compatible with Apple Pencil

Cons: Very expensive, parental controls are limited

The iPad Mini may be diminutive in stature, but it’s still a mighty tablet with plenty of processing power and long battery life. Plus, it’s portable for parents already overwhelmed with stuff to carry and much easier for small hands to manage than larger tablets.

Just like the regular iPad, the iPad Mini has an elegant aluminium body that will likely survive some knocks, though you should still plan to buy a rugged case if you want to minimize scratches, dings, and a cracked screen. The screen is sharp and vibrant, though its compact 8-inch size makes it more ideal for reading than playing games or watching movies. This compact screen size also makes it more difficult for drawing activities with the Apple Pencil, if this is a consideration. 

As with the 10.2-inch iPad, the iPad Mini makes the most sense for families with other Apple devices because you can configure things like screen time limits or approve app installations at any time and wherever you are on your iPhone. You can also share subscriptions or content with the whole family across your Apple devices. However, you do have a lot of work to do with getting your parental controls configured to filter content, limit screen time, block apps, and restrict purchases. 

The iPad Mini is also very expensive, starting from $400 for the 5th generation and $500 for the newest 6th generation, and is even more than the basic iPad. (We’re currently testing this model for future buying guide consideration and a full review.) You also have to factor in a protective case and content purchases on top, which makes the iPad Mini a relatively pricey option. The good news is that extra cash gets you a bit more storage in the base model at 64GB as well as a better front-facing camera. 

If budget isn’t a problem, any kid would love to own an iPad Mini, especially older kids and teens.

Best Android tablet for kids

Samsung Galaxy Tab A

The Galaxy Tab A8 offers kids Android in all its glory with Google Play Store access.

Pros: Google Play Store access, affordable, great performance 

Cons: No bumper case, battery life could be longer 

While Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A Kids Edition isn’t currently available, there’s still the Galaxy Tab A8, which is essentially the same tablet only without the bumper case and Samsung’s Kids Interface. Still, the Galaxy Tab A8 offers the same access to the Google Play Store where you’ll find a ton of kid-friendly apps, games, and other content.

With its 8-inch screen and 1,280 x 800 resolution, it’s just visually appealing for kids, not to mention comparable to the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition in terms of performance and design. However, its parental controls aren’t as in-depth, and it doesn’t come with a bumper case, like you’d find on Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Kids Edition. It also costs $60 more. 

The good news is that you can always invest in a hardy kids case, and Google’s Play Store doesn’t require a subscription to access its innumerable apps and content. In fact, the Google Play Store’s vast catalogue on its own can be a big reason to pick the Galaxy Tab A8 over the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition. If you’re familiar with Android and don’t want to deal with a new operating system like Amazon’s, this will be an excellent option.

If you want something akin to the Amazon Kids+ hub that you’d find on Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition tablets, there is Samsung’s Kids, which costs $7.99/month. This subscription service does offer curated movies and TV shows, games, and books for children 3 to 8 years old, which means that it can be a good service if you’re looking for an easy button to find apps and content for your kids within that age range. 

The Galaxy Tab A8 comes with 32GB of built-in storage, which can be expanded fairly cheaply up to 512GB with a microSD card. While we recommend this as the best raw Android tablet for kids, we also think a tablet of this spec profile should have longer battery life, especially with its lower-end screen resolution.

Best value tablet for kids

Amazon_Fire_HD_10_Kids_Edition
Originally $199.99 | Save 30%


A big screen without a big price tag and a library of age appropriate content make the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition a solid choice.

Pros: Easy to set up, great parental controls, big screen, curated content, affordable price, expandable storage

Cons: Amazon Appstore is limited, subscription costs after the first year, not waterproof

The Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids is the biggest member of Amazon’s Fire tablet family, boasting a 10.1-inch display that’s plenty sharp and bright. To make it extremely kid-friendly, it’s encased in a thick, child-proof case, which redirects the speakers to the front and has a fold-out stand on the back to prop the tablet in landscape for watching movies hands-free. 

Amazon has put a decent processor in this tablet and 3GB of memory (RAM), so it doesn’t suffer from the same lag and delay that can plague some of its smaller tablets. There’s also 32GB of storage out of the box with room to expand up to 1TB via microSD card, and it even boasts decent battery life, a USB-C port for charging, and a brand new 5MP rear camera. That’s all while being slightly lighter than its 2019 predecessor.

What elevates this tablet for kids above others is the fact you get one year of Amazon Kids+ with your purchase for access to thousands of movies, books, TV shows, games, and apps that are specially curated and totally age-appropriate. You can also add your own choices to the mix, whether it be Minecraft or Netflix

The parental controls Amazon offers are also the best around. You have a one-stop settings panel where you can fine-tune limits on different activities, like blocking games after half an hour a day while still allowing reading, filter content by choosing precisely what to allow, and schedule downtime. 

The Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids costs $200. After the first year, the Amazon Kids+ subscription costs $2.99 per month for Prime members. You can also just drop Amazon Kids+ altogether, but you’re limited to the Amazon Appstore for apps and games, and it has a much smaller selection than either Apple’s or Google’s offers.

Best small value tablet for kids

Amazon_Fire_HD_8_Kids_Edition
Originally $139.99 | Save 36%
Originally $139.99 | Save 36%


The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is affordable, packed with age appropriate fun, and offers effective parental controls.

Pros: Easy to set up, effective parental controls, up to 12-hour battery life, curated content, expandable storage

Cons: Amazon Appstore is limited without an Amazon Kids+ subscription

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids is a solid, portable tablet that comes with many of the same advantages as its bigger sibling, the Fire HD 10 Kids. You’ll enjoy access to the same comprehensive parental controls, enabling you to specify precisely what your child has access to and when they can use their tablet. 

You get a year of Amazon Kids+ subscription, offering curated content that includes books, movies, TV shows, apps, and games all especially chosen for different age ranges. There’s also a 2-year, worry-free warranty, which means that Amazon will replace the tablet even if your child broke it accidentally.

The Fire HD 8 has an 8-inch screen with a respectable 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution, which works out to a decent 189 pixels per inch (ppi). The display is bright and legible, though it does fall well short of the display in the HD 10, which boasts 224 ppi. Still, it’s smaller form factor might be something younger kids would prefer.

Compared to the HD 10, the Fire HD 8 also has a somewhat slower processor, but Amazon says it has 30% better performance than the previous HD 8 generation, which was serviceable at best. Otherwise, the HD 8 comes with 2GB of RAM as well as the same 12-hour battery life as the HD 10. It also comes with a rugged, child-proof bumper case that has a useful kickstand.

Once again, there’s 32GB of storage, which isn’t a great deal, but there is also room for expansion up to 1TB, which gives you a relatively cheap way of adding extra storage.

At $130, even with some of the cons I’ve highlighted, the Fire HD 8 Kids is a real bargain and makes an excellent gift for younger children between the ages of five and nine years old.

Best tablet for very young kids

Amazon_Fire_7_Kids_Edition
Originally $99.99 | Save 40%
Originally $99.99 | Save 40%


Affordable, durable, and ready to entertain your young children, the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition is a good first tablet.

Pros: Very affordable, solid design, curated content, child-proof case

Cons: Slow performance, low resolution display, Amazon Appstore is limited without Amazon Kids+ subscription

If you want a device that’s going to be safe and capable of standing up to a three-year-old, this is it. The Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition comes with an excellent protective case with a kickstand on the back, so your child can easily prop it anywhere to watch cartoons.

The Fire 7 Kids Edition comes with a host of age-appropriate, curated content through the Amazon Kids+ subscription service, which unlocks TV shows, movies, books, apps, and games starting at $2.99/month for Prime members and $4.99/month for non-Prime members. With this service, you can also set an age range, enabling the tablet to serve up a constantly changing menu that fits that age group. 

Amazon’s excellent parental controls and two-year worry-free warranty give you real peace of mind, which is especially important with younger kids. 

There are caveats here, however. The 7-inch screen has a disappointing resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels, which translates to just 171 ppi. It’s still sharp enough for comfortable reading and watching movies, but it’s also a somewhat dull display that can be a problem if your kids are using it on road trips. 

Performance-wise, its irritating delays and sluggish response are par for the course with a slow processor and just 1GB of RAM. The battery life is also limited, and it only has a mono speaker — both the HD 8 and HD 10 have stereo speakers. 

With that said, compromises at this price are inevitable and children under five years old aren’t likely to notice these issues anyway. All things considered, there’s no other tablet on the market that offers such a well-rounded package for so little. At $100, this is still a smart choice if you’re looking for a first tablet for a very young child.

What else we considered

kids using app tablet car

Considering the number of options, we’ve done our due diligence at appraising a whole lot of them before finalizing our list. These are the kid-friendly tablets that didn’t quite make the cut.

  • LeapFrog Epic: The strength of this tablet is educational content designed for younger kids, but a lot of the best content costs extra. Performance is poor, with frequent lag, and it has a low-resolution screen.
  • Dragon Touch KidzPad Y88X 7: This lesser-known tablet comes pre-installed with 20 Disney audiobooks, includes a rugged case and a screen protector, and is affordable at $99. Unfortunately, its barely responsive touch screen and terrible picture quality will put a damper on the whole experience.
What we look for in a kids’ tablet

You’d be surprised at the number of kid-friendly tablets available out there all promising top-notch performance and a solid selection of content. Of course, some deliver better than others, which is why we carefully vet each one:

Internals

We first take a look at each tablet’s processor (CPU), memory (RAM), and storage drive. These are the things that make or break its performance. Whereas a powerful CPU and speedy RAM can make a kid-friendly tablet run fast and smoothly, a less powerful chip and slow memory can make it sluggish and less responsive. Having enough storage space to keep all their favorite apps installed is also vital, as is having room for storage expansion. 

Rugged build

The one thing you absolutely must take into consideration is just how rugged a tablet is. Kids are generally less careful about their devices, and accidental spills, drops, and knocks are bound to happen. A tablet that’s built to be resistant to all those is ideal. Many of these tablets for kids come with a rugged hard case, and sometimes a screen protector built-in. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that something without a rugged case is out of the question. A quick search should give you a plethora of sturdy case options should you opt for that.

Kid-friendly content

The one big thing we’re looking for when whittling our list down is the amount and quality of kid-friendly content on hand. We want to make sure that your kids have access to top-notch content that is just as entertaining as it is educational. Many tablets for kids come with affordable subscription services for curated kid content that are essential to the experience. Those that don’t offer such subscriptions must have plenty of kid content, apps, games, and educational apps available in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.

Parental controls

When it comes to kids and the Internet, all parents want to make sure that they have all the tools to protect their kids. This is why we also check the parental controls. We make sure that each tablet has all the basics covered, including having the ability to filter out age-inappropriate content, restricting access to certain content, putting time limits on usage, and limiting or preventing purchases.

Common kids’ tablet FAQs

What size is best for a tablet for kids?

Ideally, the smaller the tablet, the easier for smaller hands to handle. However, the size of the tablet also depends on your kid’s preference and type of usage, as well as how portable you’d like their tablet to be. After all, you might end up having to carry that tablet when they’re not using it.

If they enjoy using it for educational games and activities, a smaller screen size should do nicely. If they prefer watching YouTube videos, movies, and shows on it, they might benefit from a bigger screen. Older kids might prefer such a screen as well, as they might use it for homework and school projects.


What resolution is best for a tablet for kids?

These days, it’s getting harder and harder to justify a 720p screen, let alone anything lower. We’re already living in a 4K world. In fact, there are already 8K displays out there, albeit very few. So, even if there are still kids tablets out there that come with lower resolution screens, we wouldn’t recommend them.

You’ll be doing your kids a favor by opting for something with a 800p display or higher. You might be able to get away with something lower if you’re on a budget – but only if it’s only slightly lower than 720p. Amazon’s Fire tablets for kids are typically 800p, but if you want something higher, we’d go for one of our Apple picks.


Are tablets that come with a rugged case waterproof?

Not necessarily. More often than not, these kid-proof rugged cases are really only built to withstand drops and bumps. Some third-party cases might offer some level of protection against dust and small spills. However, even those that come with Amazon’s Fire tablets for kids do not promise water- and dust-proofing.

Glossary of Terms

  • Apple Pencil: Apple’s wireless stylus pen is specifically designed to work with its line of iPads. Meant to improve your experience and add more functionalities to those tablets, the 2nd generation Apple Pencil works with the current generations of iPad Pros, Minis, and Airs.
  • Resolution: A tablet’s display resolution is its screen’s pixel count on one line along its horizontal and vertical axis. The Fire HD 8 Kids, for example, with a 1,280 x 800 display resolution has 1,280 pixels on any of its single horizontal lines and 800 pixels on any of its single vertical lines. The higher these numbers are for a given screen size, the sharper and clearer a display is.
  • microSD card: A smaller version of an SD card, a microSD card is a removable memory card that lets you store your files and carry them wherever you go. These tiny cards are often used by smaller devices to expand their storage.
  • RAM: Short for random access memory and often referred to as a device’s “memory”, this is where all the data that your device needs to run an application, a game, or even a file is stored on a short-term basis so that the processor can access it quickly.
  • PPI: This term stands for pixels per inch. In other words, a display’s PPI is the number of pixels in one inch or 2.54 cm. Usually, the higher this number or the higher the pixel density, the sharper the display is.
  • CPU: Short for central processing unit, a CPU or processor is the hardware responsible for executing instructions and carrying out your device’s tasks. Essentially, this is the brain of your kid’s tablet.
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