5 Apps that Every Book Lover Should Have on Their Phone

iphone_2011806cLike any other warm blooded individual, I’m addicted to my phone. Sadly, I’ve  become accustomed to reaching for it practically every 30 minutes it seems. Statistically, this need and want to be on our phones 24/7 is not uncommon, so I feel okay about providing you more ways in which you can use your phone, but I promise that my hope is to enhance your reading habits/experience. We word nerds are always on the hunt to find new and fun ways to spend time reading, so why not use our phones in that process? Some reading apps are obvious… Goodreads, Kobo, iBooks, but I want to dig a little deeper and provide you with a list of some conventional and unconventional apps you should have on your phone if you’re addicted to books.

1. OverDrive App

I’m going to be real honest with you and tell you that I use to be really unsure of how to borrow eBooks from the library. It seemed like a really intimidating experience. Then someone in my life sat me down and explained that if I just got overdrive, all that anxiety would disappear. And it did.

All that’s required for OverDrive is a library card and some empty storage on your phone. From the comfort of your home, you can borrow or reserve eBooks and audiobooks quickly and efficiently. Books can be searched by genre, author or title and there’s also a great function that allows you to search for ‘available now’ titles that are just sitting there waiting for you to download them.

The best part is that after you download the file (ePub or audio file), it will be on your phone (in this app) for 2 weeks, allowing you to read or listen to it at your earliest convenience and then it returns it to the queue when those two weeks are up. For me, this has been a lifesaver for long commutes and for my morning walks. If you don’t already have it, you need to get it ASAP.

2. Podcast App

podcastHere’s another thing that use to be really overwhelming to me… podcasts. I remember hearing that a lot of people were listening to them via their iTunes account, but when I went to do it, I didn’t know how to sync it with my old iPod and it just seemed really confusing. When I got my iPhone a few years back, I made a goal to really get the hang of podcasts. Luckily for me, there was a simple and easy way to do it.

From the app store, download the purple podcast app, hit search to browse the “store” where you’ll pay nothing and search the term books. You’ll get plenty of suggestions, such as NYT Book Review, NPR: Books, Books on the Nightstand and one of my favourites, BookRiot. Once you subscribe to these podcasts, they’ll download their recent episodes and live in this app until you remove the download.

If you’re someone who loves reading, you’re going to get a number of book suggestions by tuning into these podcasts (which are all usually updated weekly). I often get some of my best book recommendations by opening this app.

3. Songza App

I feel that by now, most of you know what Songza is, but just in case you don’t… Songza is a free music streaming and recommendation service that suggest playlists for you based on the time and date of when you open the app. I’ll create a scenario for you…

It’s Sunday afternoon. Your laundry is done. Your kids are down for a nap and it’s just you and your phone. Open Songza and it’ll break it down for you in real simple terms; are you…

  • Driving
  • Reading
  • Relaxing at Home

You decide that it’s reading time… you tap that option and get more options:icon320x320

  • Jazz
  • Solo Piano
  • Nature Sounds

You click Solo Piano and then have three varied music playlists that have been curated for you.

  • Mello Solo Piano
  • Classic Piano Jazz
  • Strictly Piano

Voila, you’ve now got a specific playlist that can create some really great background music for you as you dip into that new Ian McEwan or Ann-Marie MacDonald. This app has become my go-to app for when I’m reading and want some background music. Highly, highly recommended.

4. Dictionary App

I often stumble across a word in my reading that I’ve never seen before, so having the dictionary app makes it quick and easy to find a words definition. I wish that I wise enough to recognize all words, but that just isn’t the case and having this app has really helped to enhance my reading.

Not to mention, the app in itself is really great. Each day you get a different word and it’s definition. Today’s word is,

Hypogeum – noun; an underground burial chamber

Now I don’t know when I’ll be having my next conversation about burial chambers, but when I do, I’m definitely going to weave the word hypogeum into my lingo. This app also has some great word and literary posts embedded into the app. Some of today’s options are, “8 Words That Are Older Than You Think, 13 Essential Literary Terms & Word Fact: I Couldn’t Care Less vs. I Could Care Less”

If you’re a word nerd like me, this is a GREAT app to have on your phone!

5. WattPad App

icon220x220To quote my good friends at Wikipedia,

Wattpad is a writing community in which users are able to post articles, stories, fan fiction, and poems about anything either online or through the Wattpad app.

Not only do I think it’s a great tool for readers and aspiring writers, but I think it’s really cool that it’s headquarters is located in Toronto. Broken down into ‘Discover’ categories, you can select reads for writers in the featured stories section, the stories you might enjoy section and my favourite, the lunch break reads section. Of course, you can also sort through genre specific categories as well.

Whatever your pleasure, there’s a little something for everyone on this app.

—–

And there you have it friends, 5 apps you should have on your phone if you love books. Of course, you should get all the original gangsta’s like, Kobo, Goodreads, Audible, but try some of these really great ones too! I’m sure there are many, many more apps that will help to enhance your reading experience, so if you know of an app(s) that I (or all of us reading this post) should download to our phones immediately, please leave a comment below and share, because sharing is caring.

~Happy Reading… on your iPhone or Android.

 

[Video] Document Your Life – September 2014

September 2014

Can you believe it’s October? I feel like I blinked and September was over! September’s are always a busy month for anyone that works in publishing. It’s when the books that will be prominently featured around the holidays are released and it’s also a time when many authors come to town to release said books. This past month I met many great authors and had the luxury of spending time in their home, dining with them and chatting about our favourite books to paddle boarding. I tried my best to capture it all on film, as well as a look at some of the great books I read this month. Not to mention my trip to the CN Tower, an Ed Sheeran concert with my cousins and a quick (ninja like) video of Lena Dunham attending JFL42. Needless to say, it was busy 30 days, but oh so much fun!

Have a look at the month of September below and let me know if the comments what you read in the month of September and what books you can’t to read this fall!

 

*The concept of the Document Your Life videos was created by Lauren Hannah. Her story, videos and a description of the project can be found here.

** The song in this video is Girls Chase Boys by Ingrid Michaelson http://www.ingridmichaelson.com

Toronto International Book Fair 2014

One of the best perks of being a reader is that today, more than ever, it’s easy to connect with the people who write all the incredible books that are on your bookshelves. You can write them a message on Facebook, you can share your reaction with them in 140 characters and you can ask them anything with the help of Reddit. But there are also traditional ways to connect with authors, you can go to one of their readings, a hosted bookstore event or, in some cases, you can invite them to your book club. Either way you spin it, you now have access to authors.

TIBF-EN-FR

At the Toronto International Book Fair, you can spend three full days connecting with over 400 of your favourite authors! Thanks to Rita Davies and John Calabro, now Executive Directors of the TIBF, and with advice from an Advisory Committee (comprised of leading figures in the publishing industry), they did some research and discovered that Toronto was in need and want of a book fair and voila, the Toronto International Book Fair was born. As someone who loves literature and can’t always fly to the US to attend book conventions, I’m so thrilled that we’re going to have a Canadian book fair. I’m sure most of you feel the same way and for the low cost of $15.00 for a 3 day pass, it sounds as if it will be a fabulous event! Come out and support your love of reading on November 13-16. All the details about the book fair are listed below.

WHAT

This information is obtained from their website.

INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair will appeal to all book lovers and readers. From Literary to Romance, from Science Fiction to Mystery, from Children’s Books to Cookbooks, the Fair makes the Book, in all its various forms, the star of the show. It will provide for the English-language market as well as Toronto’s diverse language communities, hosting international, national, regional and local exhibitors.

It will be part exhibition, part market and part cultural festival, celebrating reading in all forms and embracing all facets of the book trade. It will be a place for readers to connect with those who write and produce the books they love—to learn, explore and be entertained, in all print and digital formats.

WHY

This information is obtained from their website.

INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair is a place for readers to connect in the most immediate ways with those who write and with those who produce the books they love; a place where people can reconnect with the passion and enchantment of the world ofreading.

WHO

As I mentioned above, there are going to be over 400, yes, 400! authors present over the three day fair. To name a few…. Margaret Atwood, Chris Hadfield, Anne Rice, Elaine Lui, Jim Gaffigan, Sylvia Day, Michael Cho, Dr. George Elliott, Lev Grossman, E. Lockhart & more.Book Fair

You can see the full list here.

WHEN

November 13 – 16

WHERE

Metro Toronto Convention Centre (N. Building)

TICKETS

The cost of 1 ticket is only $15.00 for a 3 day pass. Which is an incredible deal if you ask me! And if you and your book club exceed the number 20, you can get a group admission price of $10.00 each.

Purchase your tickets here.

CONNECT

Twitter: @InspireTIBF
Facebook: Inspire Toronto International Book Fair

I look forward to seeing each and everyone of you there!

[Video] Document Your Life – August 2014

August 2014

When I sat down to start making my ‘Document Your Life’ video for August, I was a tad nervous, because I didn’t think I did a lot in the month of August. About 30 seconds after all the August videos uploaded, I noticed how off base I was. SO many things happened in August. I went to OVO fest where I saw… Drake, Lauren Hill, Usher and 50 Cent. You’re not going to be able to see any of those people in this video, but take my word for it, it was unbelievable. Definitely a once in a lifetime event. I got lots of great (behind the scenes) footage of a book trailer shoot Random House is creating for The Great Lobster Cookbook. I meant to take a quick snippet of the amazing lobster rolls that Matt Dean Pettit made for us, but I was way too excited to actually eat the amazing food! Then of course, I went to an early screening of Outlander thanks to Showcase (which I wrote about here), it was dark, but I got some good shots of sexy men in kilts.

Of course, I read a bunch this month and I did capture some of it on video, I didn’t get all my reading recorded, so be sure to drop by here for future book reviews to see what I’ve been reading. As many of you know, September is the kick off to the publishing fall season AKA our busiest time of year, which means that there’s going to be lot of great book events. I’m hoping to capture it all on video (dark lighting and all), so stay tuned!

Have a look at the month of August below and let me know if the comments what fun things you did this past month.

*The concept of the Document Your Life videos was created by Lauren Hannah. Her story, videos and a description of the project can be found here.

** The song in this video is Sleepyhead by Passion Pit http://passionpitmusic.com/post/:id

A Glance at What Canadian English Students Are Reading this Fall

Now that I’m an adult, September just seems to be another month in the calendar year. But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I get a bit nostalgic when I see the back to school commercials advertising duo tangs, pencils and 25 cent loose leaf. I also always loved that feeling of starting over in the middle of the year, a chance to start new courses, meet new professors and make new friends. While I was taking this walk down memory lane, I started thinking of another huge aspect of the school experience… choosing the courses I wasted to study.

Acadia University

Acadia University

I was an English major of Acadia University ’06 (you do the math) and there were always lots of interesting English courses that peeked my interest, especially anything related to the idea of Canadian literature, medieval literature and the coveted course that everyone wanted to study, analyzing the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if there were any new courses added to the curriculum since I graduated, which of course led me down a rabbit hole of peeking at different English courses offered and the books on the curriculum from a variety of Canadian Universities. I thought it might be fun to share my discoveries with all of you, so without further ado, here’s a look at some of the fun courses students are studying in their affiliated English Departments.

ACADIA UNIVERSITY (Wolfville, Nova Scotia)

Of course, I’m a little biased about Acadia, because it’s where I received my degree, but I always felt that they had really great English course selections, they also had amazing professors that always encourage critical thinking. Many of the course selections seemed relatively the same, but I was thrilled to see that current books had been added to the curriculum, including Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.

All the course descriptions can found here.

SAINT MARY’S UNIVERSITY (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

SMU has some really intriguing English courses, including, Narrative in Fiction and Film, The Bible and English Literature and my favourite Fictions of Finance. Here’s the course description for Fictions of Finance,

This course examines the representation of money and finance in a range of genres – including fiction, drama, poetry, and film – and from a range of literary periods.  Authors to be considered include William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Theodore Dreiser, George Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Arthur Miller, and Martin Amis.  Topics to be addressed include narratives of financial success and failure, gambling and risk, the expansion of capitalism and the stock market, lotteries and auctions, fraud and financial crime, and hoarding and expenditure.

All the course descriptions can found here.

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO (Toronto, Ontario)

UofT has some pretty amazing courses and the course descriptions are thorough and descriptive. I think out of all of their choices, the ones that piqued my interest most were,

  • Space and the Education of Desire: Postcolonialism and Diaspora
  • Life, Death, and American Fiction
  • Actuality, Documentary, Reality

All the course descriptions can found here.

QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY (Kingston, Ontario) 422100321

Of all the University websites I perused, Queen’s was the easiest to navigate. Their course selections are also plentiful, with many great topics that will pique your interest. Lately short stories have been making a huge comeback so it was exciting to see that they had a course that studys the “contemporary American short story”. The authors students will be examining  will be,

J. D. Salinger, Flannery O’Connor, Philip Roth, Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Robert Coover, Alice Walker, Donald Barthelme, James Baldwin, Tim O’Brien, David Foster Wallace, A. M. Homes, George Saunders, Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, Philip K. Dick, John Barth, Cynthia Ozik, Sherman Alexie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Lydia Davis.

All the course descriptions can found here.

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA (Edmonton, Alberta)

As noted on their site,

The University of Albert Department of English and Film Studies was recently ranked 22nd in English Language & Literature by the QS World University Rankings – the highest ranking department at the University in this survey.

And with good reason, they have lots of fun and innovative courses that would appeal to readers. My favourite would have to “Reading Popular Culture”,

This course introduces students to post-secondary studies in English through the close reading of popular culture texts, including zines, magazines, film, television, advertising, the internet, and non-canonical fiction and non-fiction. It will address the aesthetics, concepts, theories, and debates that inform the production and consumption of popular culture, and analyze the role of pop culture in shaping beliefs, identities, and social practices. Materials, themes, topics, and genres will vary among instructors.

All the course descriptions can found here.

UBCUNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Here’s another University that has a very innovative approach to reading and understanding literature. On their departments website, they have a faculty bookshelf, which links of to each book shown in this picture.

Of all the great courses they have to offer (and they have many), my favourite has to be,

Assorted Literary Genres Today (and Youth Across Them)

In the spirit of exploration, this section will examine youth (its hallmarks, its dilemmas, its significance) across a range of literary genres, in particular memoir, Bildungsroman, speculative fiction, social novel, historical fiction, and/or comedy. In addition to exposing students to authors writing within (or in reaction to) genre conventions, the readings will enable students to understand the interplay between genre and representation.

Readings include the following,

  • Speculative Fiction: Feed by M.T. Anderson
  • Bildungsroman: Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
  • Historical Fiction: George and Rue by George Elliott Clarke
  • Social Novel: The Wise and Foolish Virgins by Don Hannah
  • At the moment, the fifth genre is undecided. It will be either memoir (Fun Home by Alison Bechdel) or comedy (Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood)

All the course descriptions can found here.

As you can see, I only looked at a handful of Canadian Universities, but it was exciting to see how out of the box the arts department has come in just eight years (since I graduated). Of course, there are still lots of OG’s (original gangsters) present, Shakespeare, Approaches to Literature, Literary Analysis and Postcolonial Lit. But for the most part, there seem to lots of new and exciting ways in which to study English.

So if you’re an English student who’s stumbled on this post, go sharpen your pencils and buckle up for a great year of expanding your mind. If you’re like me and September is now just the month that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is released, know that English University students are reading and thinking critically based on the above research. Now, I’m going to sharpen a few pencils for old times sakes…