Tag Archives: Reading

Tolkien Maps


If you are a fan of Tolkien’s sagas of Middle Earth, then the map above (I found it through a Google search for free to share images) will be familiar to you. Recently though, a map of Middle Earth with annotations by Tolkien himself has been acquired by the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

The map, along with some other images, can be viewed in the article “Tolkien annotated map of Middle-earth acquired by Boolean library“.

Weird and Wonderful Bookshops


I came across the article “Weird and wonderful bookshops worldwide – in pictures” earlier today. I thought their list was quite interesting. Certainly there are a few in that list of 15 that I hope to one day visit.

I’ve been to the Munro’s Books location pictured in Victoria, Canada and it was a good bookstore. I would most like to visit Liberia Palazzo Roberti, Barter Books, The Bookshop and Leakey’s.

Recognition from Goodreads


I received a congratulatory email from Goodreads today. I am “one of the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads!” Apparently I have written 294 reviews since I joined Goodreads in May of 2014.

I like using Goodreads as it helps to focus my attention on reading. This is the third year I have participated in their “Reading Challenge”. I found that this was a great way to set and track progress towards an annual reading goal. One way to reach that annual reading goal is to set a reasonable daily goal, like 25 pages per day.


Committing to a 25 page day


When I saw the article “A Simple Plan to Start Reading More” I thought it had a good idea.  Ratify your desire to read more by making a personal commitment to read 25 pages a day.

Even if you only did that 5 days a week for 50 weeks of the year, you would be able to complete 6250 pages a year. That would be equivalent to more than 20 300 page novels, which is about average for most contemporary novels. The author of that article above makes some other calculations for other estimates.

In any case, committing to a daily reading challenge will get you far into that stack of books you have wanted to read.

Setting and Completing a Reading Challenge


I recently came across a couple of articles (“How To Reach Your Goal Of Reading Over 50 Books In The Coming Year” and “6 WAYS TO READ MORE BOOKS THIS YEAR“) that got me to thinking. I have had a reading challenge for both 2014 and 2015. Fortunately I was able to meet both of those challenges that I had set for myself.

How Does One Set a Challenge For Themselves?
Certainly setting up a personal reading challenge is a goal best set at the beginning of the year along with your other resolutions. So now is the right time to set up the challenge for yourself. You can simply jot down a number of books you would like to read or, better, use a site like Goodreads to set and track the progress of your reading challenge. I have used Goodreads for my challenges. Sign up for a free membership, then set your reading challenge for 2016. You can then visually track your progress and you will get periodic status updates to help keep you on track.

How Many Books Should You Choose?
So you have decided to set a reading challenge for yourself. How many books should you commit to read in the coming year? If you have tracked what you have read, then it is pretty easy to use that to project what you will read in the coming year. Otherwise, estimate how much time you will have available for reading each week, then use that to set your goal. If you want to see how much time various books might take you to read, you can use the site How Long to Read. That information should allow setting an achievable goal.

How to Achieve Your Goal?
The best thing is to set up a routine for yourself. I read most mornings while I have my first cup of coffee. I also read if I use the elliptical. Finally I try to read for a few minutes most nights when I go to bed. Using an iPad for my reading, I need not have a light on at night to bother my wife. Pick which platform works best for you – traditional paper book or eBook. Also pick books that interest you, and don’t feel like you can’t call a Rule of 50 to ditch a book that you have started, but that fails to interest you.

How Can I afford This?
Books are expensive, even the half priced used books. I’ve read over 100 books each of the past two years and expect to exceed that number again in 2016. That would be impossible if I had to pay much for those books. I get most of my books through NetGalley. Through this service you can request free galleys as long as you are willing to write a review of the chosen book. There are also many services that will email you every day with the latest eBook deals. Most of those are from new authors, but I have these authors to be very good for the most part. I have a few sources of eBooks listed on my Books page.

The other alternative, of course, is your local library. Not only do the libraries have paper books, but many libraries have access to eBooks for checkout as well.

Set a challenge for yourself for 2016, whether it be for 5 or 50 books.

Books for Apple Fans

Books for Apple Fans2

I came across an article yesterday, “The Seven Best Books for Apple Aficionados” and wanted to share it. I come across a lot of book lists, best of this or that. I thought this one was unusual as it focused just on Apple. It surprises me that so much attention is being focused on Apple in the past couple of years. Certainly they have been wildly successful, and I am a fan of their products. It just surprises me a little that so much attention is being paid to them in so many ways. There have certainly been other companies that have introduced new products with far ranging impact.

So what are these recommended books? They are:

  • Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company
  • Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
  • Steve Jobs
  • iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It
  • Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made
  • ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation
  • OS X El Capitan: The Missing Manual

I have to admit that I have not read any of those cover to cover. I do have an early edition of “The Missing Manual”, and it has served me as a reference from time to time. I have never attempted to read it like a novel. Now, I simply search the Internet when I run into a technical question.

A Daily Bit of History Trivia

A Daily Bit of History Trivia

Trivia may not be the right descriptor, but it is close. I am referring to Dan Lewis‘ “Now I Know” daily emails. You can sign up at that site to receive an email from Dan each week day. I have been a subscriber for over a year and really like the stories. Some are not as good as others, but I read and enjoy most of them.

So what are the subjects of these emails? Actually the range of topics is broad. In the past few days the titles have been:

  • Gator Aid – an alligator lost it’s tail and received a prothesis
  • The Jumping Frenchmen of Maine – an odd case of illness
  • How to Make the World’s Best Paper Airplane – title says it all (it flew over 226 feet)
  • The Other Side of Midnight – how 20th Century Fox coerced theaters to show “a two-bit sci-fi junker” if they wanted to show the studio’s much anticipated and risque “The Other Side of Midnight” (BTW- that ‘junker’ was Star Wars)
  • Impressive Fruit – about pineapples

These are all short reads, probably no more than 10 minutes. They are a nice way to break up the morning. I have also found a few of these (like the ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ story) very interesting. Dan’s web site also has a complete archive of past stories (going back to June 22, 2010) if you want to pick-and-choose some of the older stories to read.

If you would like a little bit of a deep dive into history trivia, you should sign up for this daily email.

How long will that Book Take?

How long with that Book Take?

So you are about to pick up a book, but you would like to know how much time it will occupy. You can sort of guess from the number of pages it has and your past history. Or you can visit How Long to Read. This site has (currently) a database with over 12 milliion books. Enter the title for the book you are looking for in the search bar. That will bring you to a page with matches to the title you searched on.

The book cover, author’s name, number of pages and approximate number of words for the book are given for each book in the search results. You can then click on the book title, which will show a short selection from the book and a “Start Reading Speed Timer” button in blue. Click to start the timer, then read the provided paragraph. When you finish click on the timer (also in blue) that is counting the elapsed time in seconds. Your estimate for the time to read the selected book will then be displayed. The average time for the ‘typical reader’ is also given.

That sounds good, but in practice I, at least, am not finding it very accurate. Perhaps I am reading the provided excerpt too quickly. As I read the books I review, I keep a loose running tab on the time I have spent with each book. Comparing a couple of recent books I have read (“Lightless” and “Mrs. John Doe“) actual time to that predicted by ‘How Long to Read’, I find my actual times are longer (actually, almost twice as long). This discrepancy surprises me as I am a relatively fast reader.