Great Bookish Websites

Tome Reader

Summer is a great time for teachers to catch up on all the reading they may not have time for during the year. I have to have a book going at all times, and I have to read something every day—it feeds my soul and keeps me sane. But I do hear a lot of people say they don’t have time to read (you have to make the time, but I digress). Reading is often viewed as a solitary activity, but the advent of book clubs and bookish websites like the ones I share in the post make it much more social. I don’t think a lot of people who read this blog also read my book blog. I mentioned some of these websites in a recent post over there. I also learned about a couple of other great sites to share since I wrote the post.

  1. Goodreads: Goodreads is an excellent social network for readers. If Goodreads been around before I started blogging, I might have just posted all my reviews there. As it is, I do use Goodreads to connect with other readers, read reviews (they tend to be more critical than Amazon), scout for giveaways, keep track of my to-read list and let my friends know what I’m reading and have read, and play trivia games. Goodreads also allows users to add as many books as they like, and it’s absolutely free. Feel free to friend me on Goodreads.
  2. Shelfari: Shelfari is a pretty site, but it has a way to go before it’s as good as Goodreads. I have spent some time writing up book pages, and I do like the wiki user-generated aspect of the site. Goodreads allows you to do this if you become a librarian (which I have done), and you must meet certain criteria. Shelfari does not allow HTML in its reviews, which I think stinks. Until recently, it was better than Goodreads at tracking reading goals, but Goodreads has added a feature that allows for that. I spend more time on Goodreads, but I like to have a Shelfari profile just to connect with readers who may not be on Goodreads. I also do like the pretty shelves, I admit. You can also friend me on Shelfari.
  3. DailyLit: I mostly interact with DailyLit through my email, as I am always subscribed to a book in my inbox. I love DailyLit. I have read several books I do not think I’d have ever read if not for DailyLit. You can choose to subscribe via email or RSS, whichever is more convenient for you. Public domain books and some Creative Commons licensed books are free, and others are fairly cheap.
  4. PaperBackSwap: I just heard about this one last week. PaperBackSwap allows you to cull the books you don’t want anymore and put them in the hands of people who do. Each time a book you sent arrives at its destination, you earn credits that you can trade to receive books. I have two Sarah Addison Allen books winging their way to me, and tomorrow I will go to the post office to send out some books I don’t want that others want to read. All you really pay for is packing materials and postage, which are cheaper than new paperback books (not cheaper probably than used bookstores or library sales). Anyway, it’s kind of fun, and I’ve been spending a lot of time on the site in the last week. You can be my friend over there if you’d like.
  5. NetGalley: NetGalley is another site I hadn’t heard of until last week. If you have an e-reader, you can request e-galleys of yet-to-be-released books, and if you are approved by the publisher, you can load the book onto your reader. I scored a copy of Jennifer Donnelly’s The Wild Rose, which won’t be released until August. I have to finish the second book in that series first. NetGalley not only enables you to read for free, but you also have the opportunity to be one of the first readers. Pretty good deal!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ozyman

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Blogging Tools: Beyond Content Management

ToolboxIf you have a blog and have already chosen a platform (if need help with this, click here or here), this post might just make some aspects of your blog richer for you and your readers.

  1. Apture
    Apture works with any publishing platform, and it’s easy to install. It allows you to make your site more interactive. For instance, you can embed popup links to Wikipedia articles and Amazon merchandise. This site uses Apture. What do you think?
  2. Delicious or Diigo
    You can share your links with readers by programming your Delicious or Diigo account to post links to your blog. Although I have my Diigo links in the sidebar, many readers who only read my posts via RSS might not see them, so I decided to start posting them to the blog. I hope the links will prove helpful and interesting. You can find instructions for posting links via Diigo here and for Delicious here (you’ll need to be logged in to your Diigo or Delicious account).
  3. Share What You’re Reading
    Many reading social networks have widgets you can embed in your website. For instance, I am a fan of Goodreads and have a widget on the left that displays the last few books I’ve read along with my starred rating of that book. However, other networks like Shelfari have similar widgets. I also have a plugin called Now Reading, which only works with WordPress, that displays what I’m currently reading in the sidebar.
  4. coComment
    It’s easy to leave a comment and forget to check back to see if you have a response, but coComment can help you keep track of the comments you leave and the responses you receive. If you use Firefox, you can download a browser extension that will make using coComment even easier.
  5. Photo Dropper
    If you use WordPress, Photo Dropper is a plugin that allows you to easily find Flickr photos with Creative Commons licenses to share in your posts.
  6. Twitter
    Many ways of integrating Twitter with your blog exist. I use a WordPress plugin called Twitter Tools that is flexible. It allows users create blog posts from my tweets (I choose not to), display tweets in my sidebar (which I do), and notify via Twitter when I update my blog (which I also do). Twitter also has instructions for badges and widgets. TwiTip has gathered together some resources for other Twitter badges.
  7. iPhone Apps
    If you like to blog about iPhone apps or make recommendations for the same, you might find AppsFire‘s widget fun. It enables you to create a javascript widget to display the apps of your choice.
  8. Feedburner
    Google’s Feedburner gives you more control over and information about your RSS feeds. You can find out how many subscribers you have, what RSS reader they use, and the Feedburner Feedsmith plugin for WordPress will help you integrate your Feedburner feed seamlessly.

If you have a favorite blog tool, please share it in the comments.

Creative Commons License photo credit: StevenBrisson

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