Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Goodreads, Overdrive, and Mark Twain

By Marsha Lynn, Library Director

Today I finished The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain. I started it months ago as an audio book borrowed from the library through Overdrive after our tour guide in Israel mentioned it. Being a long-time Mark Twain fan, it was obviously a good choice for follow-up reading after the trip. Unfortunately, for some forgotten reason, I didn't quite finish listening to it before the generous three-week loan period ended. And I couldn't renew it because someone else had a hold on it. “No problem,” I thought. Since the book was published in 1869, it's in the public domain, I went to the Gutenberg project and picked it up as an ebook from there. After all, I was 90% done. How hard could it be to finish?

I love audio books. They allow me to multi task more effectively than ever before. I download the files from Overdrive to my pocket-sized iPod Touch and stick in earbuds while I garden or cook or do any number of other tasks that require little thought. Or I listen while driving. Ebooks, on the other hand, require focused attention. And they reside on a device that offers any number of alternative reading choices, with new material arriving hourly via blogs and various forms of social media. The ebook was on my smart phone and languished there forgotten.

Enter Goodreads – social media for readers. If you are a reader and don't have an account, you need to go to goodreads.com right now and sign up. It's a wonderful way to keep track of what books you have read and find recommendations.

At the beginning of the year, Goodreads encouraged everyone to set a goal for the number of books they would complete in a year. I set my goal at 40, something less than a book a week, and promptly forgot about it. However, my daughter is my friend on Goodreads and noted that I was lagging behind on my progress toward my goal. So I threw in a few new picture books I had read upon receipt at the library and noticed on my “currently-reading” list on Goodreads that I was almost done with The Innocents Abroad.

And there I had it. The ebook at my fingertips, just a few pages between me and adding another adult-level book to my reading list for the year, and a deadline. That's what I needed to plow through the visit to Egypt by Twain and his fellow travelers and back across the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to New York. I have now completed my 40 books for the year and am pleased to have added another worthwhile classic to my reading history.

It's great to have so many options for reading -- print books, ebooks, audio books.  Print on paper or on an electronic device.  Reading words on a page or listening to professional readers.  And all available either free on the internet or with my library card.

So how do you read?