Read books via RSS and email

DailyLitI’ve tried to read Moby Dick several times but I’ve always been interrupted. I start off strong by reading a little every night but then I skip one night. From there it goes down hill and I never finish.

That’s why I was happy to find DailyLit. Here’s how they describe their service:

DailyLit sends books in installments via e-mail or RSS feed. We currently offer over 750 classic and contemporary books available entirely for free or on a Pay-Per-Read basis (with sample installments available for free). You can read your installments wherever you receive e-mail/RSS feeds, including on your Blackberry and iPhone. Installments arrive in your Inbox according to the schedule you set (e.g. 7:00am every weekday).

With DailyLit, a short installment of Moby Dick shows up each day in my Google Reader. Each installment is short enough to read in under five minutes.

‘This I Believe’ -an assignment catalyst

This I BelieveOver winter break I had a chance to read a few books. My favorite was “This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women” from NPR. The book presents a collection of essays from NPR’s radio program of the same name.

The collection showcases the personal beliefs of citizens. Some essays are from the 1950’s and the others began in 2005 when the show was resurrected.

I highly recommend the book in audio format since you can hear the essays read by their authors. Most of the recent essays can also be heard (and read) at the NPR website.

NPR also describes how people can submit their own essays. They discuss how this idea has been used in classrooms across the world. The obvious assignment is to have your students write their own creed. Here are some additional ideas that I think might work too:

  1. Don’t write it- say it! Have students create an audio version of their essay. Students can record their work with Audacity. The essays could be shared as podcasts allowing students to receive feedback from their peers via comments.
  2. Students could pick a character from a novel and write the character’s ‘I believe’ statement.
  3. Write an essay for a prominent person in history. For example, what do you think Lincoln would have written?
  4. Come up with a class creed- a “This We Believe” essay. If students used a wiki, they could compose this essay collaboratively throughout the semester.

Find free book online; Audio-books too!

Beowulf the MovieBeowulf opens in theaters this Friday. I vaguely remember reading this in high school my Senior year. Since Beowulf is in the public domain, I decided to refresh my memory of the story by reading it online.

There are several great sites that offer free books online. Here are a few that I’ve come to love:

Rule the Web is perfect if you’re new to web 2

Rule the WebI just finished reading “Rule the Web” by Mark Frauenfelder. The book reads much like one of those ‘for Dummies’ books. It is the type of text that can be thumbed through and allows the reader to pick up anywhere they see a topic that interests them.

Frauenfelder covers topics such as Firefox extensions, how to podcast, creating a PDF file, and editing photos online. Of course, as the founder of BoingBoing– the world’s most popular blog, Frauenfelder explains how to set up a basic blog and provides tips such as:

  • include an image with every post
  • try to post at least once a day
  • write about your passion

While the book was perfect for someone who is looking to start a blog or podcast, I was hoping for a little more. For me, the book’s title and cover implied that it was going to spend time discussing how to start an online business.

For the novice, “Rule the Web” is perfect. I think it is a great book for schools to purchase and place in their professional libraries or staff lounges. If you already know how to create a blog or wiki, chances are “Rule the Web” won’t have much new to offer you.

A book about email

emailbook Recently I heard an interview on Wisconsin Public Radio about email. The guest was David Shipley, coauthor of “SEND: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home.”

Shipley gives tips to help avoid email pitfalls and discusses how to write the perfect message.
I encourage everyone to give it a listen; it was a fun interview.

The authors also have a website where you can read examples of bad emails.

We all have our horror stories, here’s what bugs me the most:

  • No meaningful subject line—Imaging if the newspaper quit using headlines or changed them all to “read this” or “FYI”.
  • Email for the masses—Chain letters, rants, persuasion pieces…why did you send this to me? I barely know you. (This website provides a solution.)
  • Forward of a forward of a forward— I don’t always need to see who sent you the message. And maybe they don’t want you to spread their email address all over the world either.
  • Pretty email—Just because you can make your default font Comic Sans in purple doesn’t mean you should. And there’s nothing wrong with a white background.

Aaaah that felt good. Now post your pet peeves in the comments section below.