It’s summertime and that means some serious summer reading. I’ve been obsessed with Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation, Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, and Chang-Rae Lee’s The Surrendered. (Read our book review and interview with Lee in our Summer issue.) But I also want to check out some guilty pleasure reading like The Carrie Diaries and the new Twilight graphic novel illustrated by Korean artist Young Kim. Oh, what to do.
Thankfully, some really ingenious people have picked up on the success of Netflix to bring you all the books you could want to your doorstep. It’s like having a Border’s at your fingertips.
I remember the days when I used to run to my local Blockbuster to get my video return in on time. Never again. Honestly, I don’t know how we as a society survived thus far without the Internet, computers and Netflix.
Well, now there’s BookSwim, the Netflix for books. Which is completely genius because while I cherish the written word and love my old-fashioned books, I simply don’t have room in my apartment to house every single book I’ve ever read. I’m a bit of a snob that way. I only want the really good, quality books displayed on my bookcase.
And yet, I do like an easy, lighthearted read. That’s why BookSwim is perfect for people like me (and apparently Pakistani American co-founder Shamoon Siddiqui as well). I can fly through The Carrie Diaries or skim Eat, Pray, Love before it hits theaters. Ideal if you’re a James Patterson or Nora Roberts junkie (one could go broke buying up every single one of these prolific author’s new books). And when you’re done, pop it into the envelope they give you and wait for your next shipment. It ships directly to your mailbox and you can keep the books for as long as you want. No shipping fees, no late fees.
Now granted, they’re not as fast as Netflix (a hard cover book is a lot more unwieldy than a DVD), especially because you are generally encouraged to return two books at a time, but if you like to take time with your books, the three-at-a-time plan works perfectly. Read a couple, return, and wait for your next shipment as you read your third.
Wanna try it out? Enter code READINGINSTYLE at checkout and receive one month free on a three month subscription (plans start from $23.95). Good through August 31, 2010.
Now, as much as I enjoy reading, I think there are certain books that require you to esconce yourself in a cozy chair and really lose yourself. Then there are books that are light and fun and don’t require so much brain time. That’s when audio books come in handy.
Simply Audio Books borrows the Netflix concept, but with books on disc narrated by actors and others. There’s something to be said about listening to the latest Lauren Weisberger chick lit narrated by the scratchy voiced actress Eliza Dushku.
Simply Audio Books has 22,000 books on disc in 33 categories with no due dates, shipping costs or late fees to worry about. The plans start at about $15 a month and I find the turnaround time to be fairly quick, which is a huge plus. Whether you have a long commute, a cross-country road trip, or just need to find time to squeeze in some books, for a multi-tasker like me, it’s a pretty genius concept.
I don’t have kids, but I have toddler nieces. And I know that no matter how perfectly you want to raise your children with esteem-building words, psychologically sound discipline and positive artistic stimulation, sometimes you just have to distract them with the TV or a DVD. Sorry, that’s just reality.
I’ve done more than my share of television babysitting with my nieces, I’ll admit. And when little Chloe gets antsy at the restaurant, I’m the first one to say, “Hey, where’s your iPhone?”
Thank goodness StoryChimes has actual books you can download onto your iPhone. With classic stories from Hans Christian Anderson (The Frog Prince) and the Brothers Grimm (Rumpelstiltskin), as well as newer stories involving Jasper the dog, the stories are interactive and lively, with chimes to let kids know to “turn the page.” (Ever notice how a 2-year-olds’ fingers are so much better equipped for the iPhone than our grownup ones?) Just download as many stories as you want for 99 cents from the website. And they’ve even got bilingual stories, too! (You can’t argue with a Spanish lesson on the way to grandma’s.)