GoodReads 2017 Reading Challenge: 42 Books

I want to read at least 42 books this year.

I totally fell down on the job last year (compared to my goal), but I did read a lot of additional material online instead and lot of what I did read, (but didn’t necessarily finish toward my goal) was of a highly dense/technical nature. We’ll do better this year.

Syndicated copies to:

🔖 Want to read: Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Washington: A Life by Ron ChernowRon Chernow (Amazon.com)
In Washington: A Life celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one-volume life of Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian War, his creation of Mount Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America's first president. Despite the reverence his name inspires, Washington remains a lifeless waxwork for many Americans, worthy but dull. A laconic man of granite self-control, he often arouses more respect than affection. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow dashes forever the stereotype of a stolid, unemotional man. A strapping six feet, Washington was a celebrated horseman, elegant dancer, and tireless hunter, with a fiercely guarded emotional life. Chernow brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods. Probing his private life, he explores his fraught relationship with his crusty mother, his youthful infatuation with the married Sally Fairfax, and his often conflicted feelings toward his adopted children and grandchildren. He also provides a lavishly detailed portrait of his marriage to Martha and his complex behavior as a slave master. At the same time, Washington is an astute and surprising portrait of a canny political genius who knew how to inspire people. Not only did Washington gather around himself the foremost figures of the age, including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, but he also brilliantly orchestrated their actions to shape the new federal government, define the separation of powers, and establish the office of the presidency. In this unique biography, Ron Chernow takes us on a page-turning journey through all the formative events of America's founding. With a dramatic sweep worthy of its giant subject, Washington is a magisterial work from one of our most elegant storytellers.

🔖 Want to read: Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow (Penguin Press, October 5, 2010) as part of the GoodReads History Book Club (Presidential Series) Book Discussion

Syndicated copies to:

A New Reading Post-type for Bookmarking and Reading Workflow

Thoughts on post types/kinds relating to reading within the Indieweb construct

This morning while breezing through my Woodwind feed reader, I ran across a post by Rick Mendes with the hashtags #readlater and #readinglist which put me down a temporary rabbit hole of thought about reading-related post types on the internet.

I’m obviously a huge fan of reading and have accounts on GoodReads, Amazon, Pocket, Instapaper, Readability, and literally dozens of other services that support or assist the reading endeavor. (My affliction got so bad I started my own publishing company last year.)

READ LATER is an indication on (or relating to) a website that one wants to save the URL to come back and read the content at a future time.

I started a page on the IndieWeb wiki to define read later where I began writing some philosophical thoughts. I decided it would be better to post them on my own site instead and simply link back to them. As a member of the Indieweb my general goal over time is to preferentially quit using these web silos (many of which are listed on the referenced page) and, instead, post my reading related work and progress here on my own site. Naturally, the question becomes, how does one do this in a simple and usable manner with pretty and reasonable UX/UI for both myself and others?

Current Use

Currently I primarily use a Pocket bookmarklet to save things (mostly newspaper articles, magazine pieces, blog posts) for reading later and/or the like/favorite functionality in Twitter in combination with an IFTTT recipe to save the URL in the tweet to my Pocket account. I then regularly visit Pocket to speed read though articles. While Pocket allows downloading of (some) of one’s data in this regard, I’m exploring options to bring in the ownership of this workflow into my own site.

For more academic leaning content (read journal articles), I tend to rely on an alternate Mendeley-based workflow which also starts with an easy-to-use bookmarklet.

I’ve also experimented with bookmarking a journal article and using hypothes.is to import my highlights from that article, though that workflow has a way to go to meet my personal needs in a robust way while still allowing me to own all of my own data. The benefit is that fixing it can help more than just myself while still fitting into a larger personal workflow.

Brainstorming

A Broader Reading (Parent) Post-type

Philosophically a read later post-type could be considered similar to a (possibly) unshared or private bookmark with potential possible additional meta-data like: progress, date read, notes, and annotations to be added after the fact, which then technically makes it a read post type.

A potential workflow viewed over time might be: read later >> bookmark >> notes/annotations/marginalia >> read >> review. This kind of continuum of workflow might be able to support a slightly more complex overall UI for a more simplified reading post-type in which these others are all sub-types. One could then make a single UI for a reading post type with fields and details for all of the sub-cases. Being updatable, the single post could carry all the details of one’s progress.

Indieweb encourages simplicity (DRY) and having the fewest post-types possible, which I generally agree with, but perhaps there’s a better way of thinking of these several types. Concatenating them into one reading type with various data fields (and the ability of them to be public/private) could allow all of the subcategories to be included or not on one larger and more comprehensive post-type.

Examples
  1. Not including one subsection (or making it private), would simply prevent it from showing, thus one could have a traditional bookmark post by leaving off the read later, read, and review sub-types and/or data.
  2. As another example, I could include the data for read later, bookmark, and read, but leave off data about what I highlighted and/or sub-sections of notes I prefer to remain private.

A Primary Post with Webmention Updates

Alternately, one could create a primary post (potentially a bookmark) for the thing one is reading, and then use further additional posts with webmentions on each (to the original) thereby adding details to the original post about the ongoing progress. In some sense, this isn’t too far from the functionality provided by GoodReads with individual updates on progress with brief notes and their page that lists the overall view of progress. Each individual post could be made public/private to allow different viewerships, though private webmentions may be a hairier issue. I know some are also experimenting with pushing updates to posts via micropub and other methods, which could be appealing as well.

This may be cumbersome over time, but could potentially be made to look something like the GoodReads UI below, which seems very intuitive. (Note that it’s missing any review text as I’m currently writing it, and it’s not public yet.)

Overview of reading progress
Overview of reading progress

Other Thoughts

Ideally, better distinguishing between something that has been bookmarked and read/unread with dates for both the bookmarking and reading, as well as potentially adding notes and highlights relating to the article is desired. Something potentially akin to Devon Zuegel‘s “Notes” tab (built on a custom script for Evernote and Tumblr) seems somewhat promising in a cross between a simple reading list (or linkblog) and a commonplace book for academic work, but doesn’t necessarily leave room for longer book reviews.

I’ll also need to consider the publishing workflow, in some sense as it relates to the reverse chronological posting of updates on typical blogs. Perhaps a hybrid approach of the two methods mentioned would work best?

Potentially having an interface that bolts together the interface of GoodReads (picture above) and Amazon’s notes/highlights together would be excellent. I recently noticed (and updated an old post) that they’re already beta testing such a beast.

Kindle Notes and Highlights are now shoing up as a beta feature in GoodReads
Kindle Notes and Highlights are now shoing up as a beta feature in GoodReads

Comments

I’ll keep thinking about the architecture for what I’d ultimately like to have, but I’m always open to hearing what other (heavy) readers have to say about the subject and the usability of such a UI.

Please feel free to comment below, or write something on your own site (which includes the URL of this post) and submit your URL in the field provided below to create a webmention in which your post will appear as a comment.

Syndicated copies to:

Big History Summer Reading List | Big History Project

Big History Summer Reading List (blog.bighistoryproject.com)
The best part of teaching Big History is that we’re always learning right alongside our students. As the year winds down here in the US, many BHP teachers are looking for books to take with them to the beach, the mountains, or wherever they choose to unwind this summer. We asked our teacher leaders for their favorite books related to Big History and this list is what they came up with.

I’ve got a lot of these on my big history book list on GoodReads.com
It also looks like a lot of these are things that Bill Gates has been reading too!

Syndicated copies to:

Advanced Reader Edition Giveaway of Henry James Korn’s Upcoming Amerikan Krazy

For those who just can't wait for the official launch on February 22, 2016, Boffo Socko Books is giving away five free signed copies of the advanced reader edition of Amerikan Krazy by Henry James Korn.

Many of you may have already heard, but I’m publishing books under the Boffo Socko Books imprint and our first release, a satirical novel entitled Amerikan Krazy written by Henry James Korn, is being put out on February 22, 2016, just in time to “celebrate” the race for the Presidential Election of 2016.

For a limited time, we’re giving away five free signed copies of the advanced reader edition before the official launch of the book. Along with major book review outlets, you’ll be able to have and read a copy weeks before the official launch.

You can sign up for the giveaway by January 15, 2016 at GoodReads.com.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Amerikan Krazy by Henry James Korn

Amerikan Krazy

by Henry James Korn

Giveaway ends January 15, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


Entrants will be notified on Jan 15, 2016 if they win.

We hope our friends will take a moment to register for a free GoodReads account and spend a moment to indicate that they “want to read” the book, and “follow Henry” there as an author.

If you have a moment, and feel so inclined, feel free to share a link to this post on your favorite social media outlet. Your help in spreading the word is greatly appreciated.

Members of the press, reviewers, and book bloggers can request ARC/ARE copies directly. 

Syndicated copies to:

Little Free Library #8424 (Adams Hill Branch) Grand Opening

After I've suffered almost two years of Little Free Library envy, you're cordially invited to the grand opening of the first Little Free Library in Adams Hill (Charter #8424) on Sunday, August 9th, 2015 from 4pm - 5pm.

About two years ago while surfing online I came across the concept of the Little Free Library and  instantly fell in love.  It turned out I had been driving by one on my commute regularly and had always wondered what it was and what was going on.  I immediately had big dreams for building my own.  I surfed their website for ideas and building plans.  I registered for my placard. I received my placard. I drew up elaborate plans for building my own.  I debated buying new parts versus recycling or upcycling parts. [Trigger warning for bibliophiles: addictive material to follow] I spent hours surfing photos of Little Free Libraries on their Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr pages.  This is when Little Free Library Envy set in… for almost two years.

I’ve finally broken the spell! Supplies have been purchased. Work has commenced.  Drilling and mounting have been completed.

The first branch of the Adams Hill Little Free Libraries is now open!

 

Little Free Library #8424 Grand Opening

You’re cordially invited to the grand opening of the first Little Free Library in Adams Hill (Charter #8424).

Date: Sunday, August 9th, 2015
Time: 4pm – 5pm
Location: 1411 Dartmouth Drive, Glendale

Lemonade and cookies will be served.

Come chat with your neighbors, say hello, and check out the library.  If you’re so motivated, feel free to bring a book (or two) to help stock the library.

More information about the Adams Hill “branch” can be found at our library’s page Little Free Library #8424, but the scant basics are below:

  • The books in our library are always free and never for sale.
  • Feel free to take a book.
  • If you have a book you’d like to share, please feel free to donate it.
  • When you’re done with your book: return it, pass it along to a friend, or release it back into the wild.
  • You don’t need to “check the book out” or “check it in”, but we do encourage you to sign our guest book and participate via Book Crossing.

 

More Details About Little Free Library #8424

First, What is a Little Free Library?

It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!

If you want to learn more about the movement or host your own Little Free Library, please visit their website.

Location

Little Free Library Charter #8424 is located at 1411 Dartmouth Drive, Glendale, CA 91205. It is located at the dog-leg on Dartmouth on the west side of the street. It is just west of S. Adams Street, roughly at the top of the hill.

A library with a view of the mountains
A library with a view of the mountains

Our Library Philosophy

Though Chris built and hosts the library, he’s simply a steward or caretaker, of the branch. The library is free and open for the use of our friends and neighbors in Adams Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods. If you’ve stopped to check things out, you’re automatically an associate librarian. It is appreciated if everyone helps to care for and maintain the library.

General Suggestions

  • The books in our library are always free and never for sale.
  • Feel free to take a book.
  • If you have a book you’d like to share, please feel free to donate it.
  • When you’re done with your book: return it, pass it along to a friend, or release it back into the wild.
  • You don’t need to “check the book out” or “check it in”, but we do encourage you to sign our guest book and participate via Book Crossing [see below].

Arrangement of Books

Since there isn’t a full time librarian and only so much space, there isn’t (usually) a set order to the arrangement of our books. Since it’s been a long trip up the hill, feel free to stop for a minute to cool off, consider yourself an associate librarian, and rearrange them to suit your whimsy – it is your neighborhood library after all. We only ask that you try to keep any children’s books on the lower shelf for short legs and arms to be able to reach, and that your arrangement ensures all the books fit into the library just in case it rains.

Possible suggestions for arrangements might include:

  • by size
  • by color
  • by the order in which you’ve read them
  • by author’s first name
  • by publication date
  • by publisher or imprint
  • by topic in reverse alphabetic order
  • by best to worst (in your opinion or someone else’s)
  • by those you’ve read and those you haven’t

The options are infinite, so be creative.

Book Crossing

All of our books in the Adams Hill Branch are “traveling” books. We try to register all of them on Book Crossing. This is a free web service for watching the journey of individual books as they meander about the world. If you’d like to, you can enter the BCID number inside the front of the book to see where it’s been and even where it goes after you’ve read it. You can also enter any data, thoughts, reviews, etc. for the book on your own, as well as create a note about where you re-released it. (Note that we don’t expect all of our books to necessarily come back to our branch, but we do ask that you pass them along when you’re done with them.)

Pending people updating the location of books removed, check availability at our Book Crossing Zone.

Donating Books

We gladly accept your donated books.

If you have more books than the little library will fit, please don’t simply dump them! You can leave them in a covered box preferably on our stairs/landing – this will keep our sprinklers and the elements from ruining them or you can contact me through Nextdoor.com. If the library has more books than will fit, we’ll occasionally rotate them to help improve the diversity of the available collection over time.

If you’d like to, please write the titles of your donations into our guest book as this will help us to register them on Book Crossing. (You’re welcome to register them on book crossing yourself prior to donation as well.)

Guest Book

Our library has guest book and a pen. Feel free to write down any thoughts, comments, or suggestions you might have about the library and leave them in the library for the other associate librarians who happen by.

You’ll find a red composition book (and pen) inside our library where you can leave your thoughts and comments. Kindly leave the guest book in the library – it’s the one book we have that doesn’t circulate!

In some part the guest book is meant to help catalog the progress of our library. Below are some suggestions for what you might write into our guest book when you visit:

  • Patrons/Associate Librarians are encouraged to (optionally) write in the books they donate or check out.
  • Say hello to your fellow neighbors! You can simply write down the day and time of your visit along with a note for future visitors.
  • Bringing back a book? Feel free to write in a short review of the book you’re returning so others will know what they’re getting into. (If you give it a number of stars, be sure to indicate out of how many possible, so we know your scale.)
  • Liked a book you borrowed? Flip back into the guest book to see who made the donation and write in a thank you to the donor.
  • Have a book you’ve been longing for? Write it in and maybe a fellow neighbor has a copy they can donate on a future visit.
  • Visiting our branch from far away? Be sure to write down your hometown and country  so we know how far away our books travel.
  • Maybe you’re waxing poetic when stopping by? Feel free to write a short poem or haiku about our library.

Wish List

Our wish list has two functions:

  1. Write down any books you’d love to see come to our library so you can borrow them in the future.
  2. Read the list to see if you have any of the books you might donate so that others can enjoy them.

A Tiny Library with Its Own Social Media

To help support the neighborhood library (in the digital age every library needs a blog right?), I’ve created a website for it at: http://lfl8424.boffosocko.com/. The site has a variety of resources relating to our branch. For those that prefer to follow and interact with the content via social media, there are also the following:

 

Building Process

For those interested in my particular process, here’s how I did it.

Recently I saw something a bit more quirky and interesting than my original plans that I could up-cycle, so I made the purchase (happy belated birthday to me)!  It was a nice little metal newsstand that Cost Plus World Market had put on clearance as they’re no longer going to carry it.  The last one the store had was a bit dinged up and had some scratches, so I negotiated an additional discount. It’s got two spacious shelves with two doors including a glass fronted one, and it’s got the capacity for at least 6 linear feet of books.

A trip to the hardware store for a small sheet of plywood, an 8′ post, and some wood screws, machine screws and nuts finished up the material needs.  I cut the post down to 54″ and cut the plywood down to fit underneath the newsstand.  I pre-drilled some small  holes in the plywood to screw the plywood down onto the post.  Then I drilled holes into the bottom of the newsstand and fit it down on top of the plywood and attached with the screws and nuts.

Photo of plywood, ruler, tape measure, screws, nuts, sandpaper, pencil, and Little Free Library placard.
Parts and hardware for building my Little Free Library

I posted a note on Nextdoor.com and within just minutes had an offer from two neighbors to loan me a post hole digger. (Thanks Rob and Scott!) The following day the 2 foot hole was open and the library was planted.  (And I returned the post hole digger to Rob.)

Following this, I dug up a handful of seeder books, registered them with BookCrossing.com and put them on a GoodReads.com shelf, and put them into the library.  We’ve technically been open for a week and without any publicity at all, we’ve had over a dozen books flow through the library already.

Total cost out the door: just under $200.

Little Free Library #8424 (prelaunch)
Little Free Library #8424 (prelaunch)
The library finally planted in the ground.
The library finally planted in the ground.
A library with a view of the mountains
A library with a view of the mountains
The first books move in
The first books move in
Syndicated copies to: