Monday, April 12, 2010

Online Tools for Your Reading

I recently facilitated a webinar for my sorority about the joys of reading. I had a great time putting together the materials for the presentation and learned some great information myself as well!

I've found some fabulous websites that really help keep track of your reading, and help to steer you in the direction of additional reads you will love.

The first I want to mention were already familiar to me. Shelfari and Goodreads are fantastic resources for those who want to keep track of the books you are and who want to share that reading with friends. They also provide a fun visual record of the books you have read, which I find to be a great motivator. I love seeing all my books lining up on my virtual shelf, and sometimes it's just the inspiration I need to pick up my latest book instead of turning on the TV. And you can link up with friends who also have accounts for a fun way to share your latest reads.

The next set of resources are great if you are looking for something new to read. Have you ever finished a great book, but then been at a complete loss for what to read next? These websites are here to help! The first is What Should I Read Next? This website lets you type in a book or an author that you love, and then generates suggestions based on that information. You can also register for a free account and it will keep track of your preferences for even better recommendations. And finally, I want to share The Book Explorer. This website actually serves multiple functions. First, it provides comprehensive lists of recommended books organized by genre. And the genres get very specific. You can search for a list of literature about topics like friendship or technology, or for a collection of essays about nature or pop culture. If you want to read more about a particular topic, this website could be your new best friend. Once you select a book, you can also read comprehensive reviews provided by the websites members and find additional information. You can also join this website to provide your own reviews.

I hope that a few of these websites might become a valuable tool for your reading journey. I want to start providing more reading resources, in addition to reviews and thoughts about books and reading in general. Is there any information in your reading life that feels lacking? What are your obstacles to reading as much as you would like? I'll be back throughout this week to share some of the other information from my webinar.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The School of Essential Ingredients

I found Erica Bauermeister's new novel, The School of Essential Ingredients will browsing in Borders a few weeks ago. Although I was reading several other things at the time, I went through this great book in about four days.

One of the endorsements on the cover predicts that lovers of the Food Network will adore this book. And that's probably true. The novel is rich with delectable descriptions of food, cooking, flavors and ingredients.

The novel follows the lives of a cooking teacher and her students across the duration of their cooking class. The class is held monthly at the teacher's restaurant. The lessons are a bit unorthodox, but the results are phenomenal. The writing is both vivid and compelling. The author is involved in the Slow Food Movement and the principles of that are definitely a strong presence in the novel.

My only complaint about the book was the format. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character. Each chapter gave background into the life of that particular character, often going far back into their personal histories. I was frustrated because I would become so engrossed in one character's story that I was unhappy when their chapter came to a close. The characters would reappear as characters in later chapters, but only from the periphery. When the book ended, I had many questions left unanswered.

However, the read itself was delightful. It definitely inspired me to cook more!

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