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My next book to read just got hacked

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

I have a confession to make. I find it difficult to select my next book to read. It usually goes something like this. Open either the Kindle app or local library app on my tablet. Stare at category headers like fiction, history, and business. Decide on casual or serious reading. Then start scrolling through books, reading summaries, and reviews. Hopefully, I feel good about a selection and begin.

Part of my challenge is I enjoy both casual and serious reading. I define these as:

  1. Casual Reading is for fun, entertainment, or to relax.
  2. Serious Reading is for learning and thinking.

A third type of reading but less common is purposeful.  

  1. Purposeful Reading is to find, record, and retain information about a topic.

Casual reading is relaxing but also stimulates creativity. Serious reading deep dives a topic and promotes alternative thinking. Depending on my mood, I enjoy both. Maybe I should just let Alexa decide for me??


With the advancement of digital media, digital players are now ubiquitous.  Options for content include podcasts, blogs, news reports, and video documentaries. It’s to the point that I consider some non-book digital content to be a substitute for books because it fits my categories of casual and serious reading. I may be listening rather than reading, but I’m still consuming content that can be both educational and relaxing.

The blog from Mitch Joel  and Podcasts from Gemba Academy are as compelling and thoughtful as a serious read but in smaller segments. The podcast from the Wharton Business School called Moneyball provides a blend of both casual and serious content. How I built this podcast contains information from entrepreneurs just as informative as a biography but with an added twist to hear the story story in first person voice.

I’m not giving up my love of reading. But I’m finding these modern alternatives satisfy some of the same hungers for learning and entertainment. It’s good to have choices.

Alexa, read a book to me!

Onward and upward!

eLibrary used more than paper library

With my trusty eReader, a 2nd generation Kindle, I have a growing library of eBooks spanning multiple categories. My library contains fiction in the areas of suspense, mystery, fantasy, and paranormal. My non-fiction collection includes books in the areas of marketing, business, biography, and spiritual topics.

In my home office, I have a bookshelf that contains printed books spanning the same types of categories. That’s my pre-eReader library. The collection has decreased in volume over the years because I have given away some books in an effort to reclaim space.

Recently, I referenced some material from a few eBooks in a blog post and it occurred to me that it was not the first time I had used my eBook collection for reference. I asked myself

“Do I reference the eBook material more than paper books because they are my newest books or because it is easier to search electronically to find material I have previously read?”

Do other people, and specifically writers, have the same experience? With my eLibrary, I have referenced passages, notes, and highlights more than I ever did with my paper book library. I didn’t plan it this way. It’s just something I’ve observed.

The answer, at least for me, is due to both characteristics of my eLibrary. While it is easier to search and find material, I think the relative age of the content of the library also means that its top of mind for me to think of as potential reference. Perhaps the biggest contributing factor is that I didn’t start writing/blogging until just before I acquired an eReader. So the probability that I will want to reference material from my collection increased.

The Kindle has built-in search capabilities to make searching for keywords and passages easier than thumbing through paper books. Additionally, Amazon offers a web site that keeps all of my Kindle highlights and notes in one location that is accessible via a web browser. So I can look for some of my references regardless of location and whether or not I have the Kindle with me.

A view from the Kindle online management area

At the end of the day, I think eReaders are turning our Library of information into something that will be more used. I sold books off my bookshelf to make space. That’s not such an issue with the eReader. I can carry a large library with me. The accessibility and ease-of-finding the information is a game changer for our library.

Four devices I still use and why

These are a few of my favorite things

“Smartphones”, as they are called today, do so many tasks I’m not sure why they are still called a phone. Think about how much time you spend talking with your smartphone.  If you’re like me and everyone I know, you use your device more for computing and data tasks than talking. I’ll admit they are amazing devices and do make it possible to eliminate other electronics in our lives. But I still enjoy using some of my other electronic devices. I will use my smartphone to capture video, get directions, read, and listen to music for impromptu moments. But if I have time to plan ahead, you’ll probably see me with one these devices.

The Flip
Cisco announced they would discontinue the Flip back in 2011 which quickly inspired a list of alternatives. I love the Flip for quick and convenient videos. The device is small (about the same size as my SmartPhone!) and it’s simple to use.  To take basic video all I have to do is push one red button. It auto-focuses and adjusts for lighting. It confuse me with a bunch of settings that I don’t know how to use. Simple, compact, and decent video. Love it.

The Garmin Nuvi
My family uses this device frequently. It seems there is always a new destination in our schedule and the little Nuvi provides directions to get us there. We can use the smartphone GPS, but the passenger often wants to use their device for other activities and who wants to run the battery down? The little Garmin we have is a basic GPS unit. But the basics are all I want from a GPS device. Tell me how to get from point A to point B. It’s good at that. Simple and focused wins again.

The iTouch
I’m too cheap to pay for an iPhone and the associated data plan (and I’m not drinking the Apple Kool-aid). But I do have an iTouch. I use this device occasionally to evaluate an iOS application, but more often I use it to play music and podcasts while I run. I know, I could use my smartphone for music. I did that once and dropped it while tying my shoe. The screen shattered. With my iTouch, I already have an arm-band so it reduces the risk of dropping it. Unlike the Flip and Garmin, this device is multi-dimensional. But I keep it simple and dedicated. Besides, I don’t want a phone call to interrupt my runs.

The Kindle
I have one of the original kindles. While Amazon is making the new readers with more features, I still like the basic Kindle. It does one thing for me and that is allow me to focus on the book content. There are no popups, noises, or other things to distract me from reading. It’s just me and the book (or other content). Simple. Focused. eReader.