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Tag: Reading

“good” reads

Books are amazing, but the options we have to buy books and track our reading are terrible. A lot of us are locked into the Amazon ecosystem – buying books on Amazon.com, reading them on Kindles. Sites like AbeBooks and Goodreads were quietly acquired by Amazon. Even LibraryThing is now part-owned by Amazon.

The new reading stack – macwright.com

raises hand I am deep in that life. I have a Kindle, subscribe to Kindle Unlimited and use that alongside the Libby app from my library.

The company started with books because they made business sense, and they acquired Goodreads for the reading data, and are now killing its ecosystem out of boredom or malice. Amazon has never cared about books.

I recently removed everyone but my wife from Goodreads and took the account private. Mostly because I wasn’t using (and never used) any of the social features on the site. I wanted a place to track what I read, when I started, and when I finished.

That’s it.

But it did such a poor job of that I’ve given up on the site.

Despite reading books from Amazon on a Kindle. It couldn’t even get that part right. Sometimes I’d had a start date from when I opened and synced the book and told Goodreads I was reading it. Other times I’d look back at the end of the year and half the books I’d read wouldn’t show up because they had no dates at all on them.

Amazon has all the data on every sync. But instead of using it for me, I’m sure it went into their recommendations for what to read next or how to sell me something else on Amazon.

I’ll keep an eye on the list that Tom lists this post, but I’m not sure any social reading thing will be easier than picking a text file to record what I read and move on with life.

Why I setup an email address to read newsletters

I setup a dedicated, private email address for newsletters and now they’re a joy to read instead of anxiety-causing clutter. This may not seem like a big deal to you. But it has changed how I read newsletters and reduced my stress in seeing new ones piling up in my Inbox. I enjoy the Newsletter Renaissance and when I see an interesting one, I sign up for it. The problem started as many of them arrive on the same day (like podcasts on a Wednesday, but that’s another story). So I would get overwhelmed by the number of emails in I wanted to take the time to read but would never find that time because they added to a pile of anxiety instead.

The first solution I tried was Stoop. I thought it was a perfect solution. An app for newsletters. I could send them to that email address for Stoop and read them in the app at my leisure. It worked well for awhile, but the problem was I didn’t want another app to remember to open. So again, newsletters I wanted to read would sit unread for months. Also, the app wasn’t a great experience for newsletters I want to open links from in other tabs to read after I finish the newsletter. I want a computer screen for that, not a phone.

The second reason I stopped using it was more than one person writing about (I don’t remember who) how they were starting to remove stoop.email addresses from their lists because part of the point of a newsletter was the intimacy with the audience, being invited into their Inbox. And Stoop was taking those emails and instead of providing the authors with real people, it gave them a pile of junk addresses essentially. It’s hard to get intimate with a piece of code.

So for those two reasons, I deleted stoop and then it hit me.

I want to get these newsletters delivered in email because email is flexible and can be anywhere I want to be. I also want the authors of the letters to know I’m a real person behind the address and when I wanted to reply to them, I could, from a real address. I guess that would have been a problem with Stoop, but I don’t reply very often so I never encountered that problem.

I setup a reading@ address. It’s perfect because it reminds me what it’s for. It gives me a place that’s not my primary mailbox to dive into at length and know I will find long, quality messages there. It’s been a perfect solution for me. I can open it on the phone, or on a computer and dive into as many or as few letters as I want at a time.

I can enjoy them in a quiet, peaceful space without other messages around them screaming for attention. Moving these newsletters out of my screaming, needy Inbox and into their own home, means I can read them with the slowness and patience of a good book rather than a screaming Twitter feed.

I’m starting to think about what other things I can change the context to enjoy more.

Fortress of Habit

The death of reading is threatening the soul

“Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”


When asked about his secret to success, Warren Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…”


Modern culture presents formidable obstacles to the nurture of both spirituality and creativity. As a writer of faith in the age of social media, I host a Facebook page and a website and write an occasional blog. Thirty years ago I got a lot of letters from readers, and they did not expect an answer for a week or more. Now I get emails, and if they don’t hear back in two days they write again, “Did you get my email?” The tyranny of the urgent crowds in around me.


I’m still working on that fortress of habit, trying to resurrect the rich nourishment that reading has long provided for me. If only I can resist clicking on the link 30 Amish Facts That’ll Make Your Skin Crawl…

Fortress of Habit is a wonderful turn of phrase.

Recently Listened: April 2014 Audiobooks

I love reading, but lately I’ve not been able to sit down and put eyes to words. So instead I’ve listened to a few audiobooks this month and have really enjoyed them.

Ready Player One By Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is a wonderful book. It was recommended to me by a few friends who said I would love it. They were right. I listened to Wil Wheaton read it.

It’s an 80’s Geek Love Fest. The story is filled with 80s computer games, music, video games, movies and everything else 80s you can think of. A great story of misfits hunting across a virtual universe for a secret treasure it did not disappoint.

Predictable in places and unexpected in others. I listened to every word with eager anticipation of what was going to come next. The worst part of Ready Player One is that it ends.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath was an interesting look at re-examining common situations and looking at them a different way. Read by the author, Gladwell talked often of how stories we’ve come to know by heart can actually be seen very differently.

And how the David in stories can triumph over Goliaths by changing the game and playing to their strengths. I didn’t learn and great truths or insights, but it was interesting to look at things differently.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

Happiness. It’s something we all seek to find and maintain. Rubin took on a challenge each month to try to become happier. In the course of being happier, she also tried to make the people around her happier.

In examining her behaviors, she tries to act better. To quit nagging. To be more positive. To be a good example for her children.

She shares her Secrets of Adulthood. Many of which I found myself nodding my head to. Those were things I could do better at. Or at least things to strive for.

Reading her own book, she never preaches her way is The One True Way™. But instead shares her experiences and experiments and reports what worked for her and what she found after trying out different things each month.

Searching for Dave Chappelle by Jason Zinoman

Dave Chappelle is an interesting figure. At the height of his success, he vanishes out of the public eye for reasons unknown. The kindle short doesn’t have any definitive answers. It does paint a fuller picture of Dave Chappelle, the man and the comic.

It was a short, enjoyable story. I really enjoyed his television show and stand-up comedy. And while I didn’t learn anything new about the why he left the show. I did learn more about him as a person. And that was worth the listen.

Got a suggestion of what I should read or listen to next? Curious what else I’ve enjoyed? Check out my Books page.

Shipwrecked

I read one book. Now I’m trapped.

I finished a story. I got all three parts. Completed. Finished.

But it was merely a glimpse. An introduction. The tattered edge of a map waving invitingly in the breeze.

Beckoning me. Begging me. Calling me to it. Demanding I dig deeper.

Deeper I went. There is another book. A sequel. Well reviewed and available.

It fills the gaps in the first story. It was less a sequel as the rest of the story.

The completion of a tale only half told.

I was excited. And conflicted.

I had other worlds to visit. I tried to dive in. Dangling my toe into their literary waters.

I swam in them. Forcing myself into the crashing waves and chilly depths.

But each time I regretted leaving my first world. It has stuck with me. Demanding my attention. Begging to show me more.

Hiking its skirt up and showing some leg. Legs that went on forever. There were even more books. An entire universe to explore.

A huge world I was merely a tourist in. I had stumbled in unknowingly.

It has me and it won’t let me go. I need to know more. I must visit. I must move there.

I must return to the world I know only vaguely. Armed with more questions than answers, I tip toe closer to its Siren’s song.

I am taken. Shipwrecked. With no hope of escape. Unless I learn all I can. And to do that…

I must read.