Linkage Love: #SAReads Edition

by Kristen Abell

So, some of y’all may know by now that I’ve started an online book club on Twitter and GoodReads called #sareads. One of the goals of this little online venture is to help those in student affairs find books to read that provide professional development, spur creativity, or just are just plain awesome to read. I tend to have suggestions somewhat frequently when people ask (okay, I’m a one-woman book-recommending machine – I can’t help it, I lurv reading, people!), so I thought I’d share just a few of the sites I use to find new books to read.

Yeah, yeah, if you’re part of the #sareads book club, you might already be a part of GoodReads, but have you really used it? Take a look around that site, make some friends (a few of you have even friended me – feel free if you haven’t), join some groups. There is no better way to get book recommendations than to find some folks who have similar tastes to you, then follow them. Find out what they’ve been reading and steal those book recommendations – I promise they won’t mind! I find a good portion of my books this way – from a very well cultivated group of people whose taste I love. If you want to step outside your comfort zone, find someone who reads books that are totally different than your usual fare and find the ones they like the most. There’s even a “popular student affairs” shelf on GoodReads – surely you can find something on there?

By dint of being a long-time customer – oh, and by giving them my email – I’m on Barnes and Noble‘s email list, so I get new book recommendations pretty much weekly, but you can go on their site and receive the same recommendations. Amazon is also a good place to look, and if you look at enough books you like, they’ll start giving you recommendations – always helpful, that Amazon. Of course, if you also tend to look at, say, Wonder Woman merchandise, your “recommended” list may look less like a book list and more like you drive an invisible jet.

Check out the website for your local library – even if you’re not much of a library user yourself. Because KC straddles the state line of Missouri and Kansas, I’m fortunate enough to have two local libraries that have excellent websites (KCMO and JOCO). Whether it’s suggestions by the library staff, recommended books for different genres, or just an up-and-coming book club book, they always have great suggestions for books to read. And since I also follow both of them on Facebook, they often will make recommendations to me personally based on my recent favorites. Seriously, y’all, I love libraries so hard.

Finally, follow #sareads on Twitter – in addition to discussing a particular book, we also tend to throw out lots of suggestions and book review blog posts using that hashtag. Go check it out – or tweet me and ask for recommendations – you know I’ll come up with something for you!

What are you reading? Where do you go for new reads?

Linkage Love: #SAReads Edition

Highlight An App: Kindle

by Kathryn Magura

I had a hard time trying to figure out what app to highlight for this post. We’ve already covered Instagram and I probably shouldn’t tell you how terrible I am at Draw Something, so I thought I’d go the more practical route: Kindle!

Kindle App

That’s right, there is a Kindle app! Why would you want a Kindle app? Well, if you’re like me, you have a Kindle (I have Kindle Fire) but don’t always have my Kindle with me. I also have an iPhone and iPad for work. In order to not become a complete tech cliche, I’m not going to keep all three of those devices on me all the time. What am I to do then?

Well, I’ve recently discovered that the Kindle application uses cloud technology to bookmark the location of where you left off the last time you were using a Kindle device or app. What does this mean? Well, it means I can read my book on my Kindle Fire by the pool on the weekend, on my iPhone while walking around campus (I don’t really recommend reading while walking, but you get the idea), and on my iPad during my lunch break. Perfect solution for someone who loves to read!

Highlight An App: Kindle

Tech Reading

by Kristen Abell

One of the types of posts we’ve been doing lately are internal blog prompts – prompts we come up with for ourselves just to keep things fresh and interesting. My prompt for today is all about books – a stretch for me, as I’m sure you can imagine. But it’s a wee bit more focused than that – I’ll be discussing books on technology for y’all today. So get your GoodReads profile up (or whatever mechanism you use to make lists of books), because I’m getting ready to drop some good suggestions on you.

First up, it should come as no shock to anyone that I’m going to suggest a book about blogging: Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters by Scott Rosenberg. Though I’d been blogging for a little while already by the time I read this book, I had no real understanding of the history of blogging and the impact it had made at that point. This book does a great job explaining the hows and whys of blogging, and pretty much every time I present on blogging, I recommend it to my participants. I can think of no better book to give you a comprehensive overview of the history, as well as the many reasons someone might blog, and how we can continue to use blogs in the future. Of all these books, this one is probably the only one I would absolutely, postively call a “must read.”

For those of us in student affairs, another great tech-related read is The iConnected Parent by Barbara K. Hofer and Abigail Sullivan Moore. Okay, it’s not strictly about technology, but it does discuss the impact of recent technological developments on the relationship between students and their parents, as well as parents and their student’s university. Well worth a read if you work with parents…I mean students.

If you’re at all curious about how certain things began and became what they are, especially those with big names behind them, I have three book recommendations for you: The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick (also known as Zuckerberg’s Whipping Boy), The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness by Steven Levy, and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Let me break it down for you:

The Facebook Effect, while written by someone who has obviously had more than a little taste of the Zuckerberg Kool-Aid, is still a dang good read if you want to find out more about how Facebook became, well, Facebook. And despite the fact that he’s such a fan – or maybe because of it – Kirkpatrick does a great job explaining what the original intentions of Facebook’s creators were, which, if you’re like me, makes you appreciate why they seem so anti-privacy at times.

Fun fact about The Perfect Thing – each chapter was written as an individual piece so that you could start on any chapter and not need to have read the chapter before it. Also, there are several different versions of the book – each with the chapters in a different order, much like the iPod Shuffle. That’s how cool this book is. If you’re looking for history about the Walkman-to-iPod transition, this is your book. Also, it’s funny to read the author’s story of meeting with Steve Jobs when he had a case covering up the beautiful design of the iPod (the author, of course, not Jobs).

Speaking of Steve (yeah, I’m on a first-name basis with him…in my head), if you haven’t had a chance to read it, his biography is a fascinating look at how Apple was born…and then re-born. To tell the truth, the first half or so of the book is a hard read. The man was just a downright asshole (sorry, there’s no nice way to say that). But if you skim that part or at least stick through it, the second half has some fascinating history on how Apple became the company it is today.

I’ve got a few more I could share, but I think that’s enough for one post. What tech-related books have you read lately? I’m always adding books to my list, so please share!

Tech Reading

Kristen’s Favorite Books

By Kristen Abell

Okay, so for those of you that know me or read my personal blog, you probably already know that I’m a big reader, so of course it makes sense for me to answer today’s blog prompt. However, I have to admit, I find this prompt incredibly hard to answer – mostly because picking “favorites” is a hard thing for me to do. I like so many different books and kinds of books, it’s hard to pick just a few. So I went to an old standby – Shelfari.com (of course I had to include some tech in my post – you didn’t think I would avoid it completely, did you?). This is a website I use to track all the books I read, as well as rate them and connect with other people who read similar books so I can get recommendations.

When I checked the website, I had “favorited” four books – and they’re a bit all over the place. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is possibly my all-time favorite – I know, hard to believe I can pick one. But this book is just beautiful – I’ve read it at least two or three times, and I’m sure I’ll read it several more. I love the story, the blooming relationship in the book, and it’s well-written to boot – an incredible combination. Amazingly enough, despite my issues with time-travel in general, I was able to suspend reality long enough to enjoy this book. That should prove how well it’s written, if nothing else does.

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore was also on my favorites list. I pretty much enjoy anything by Christopher Moore – he’s smart, funny, and has a dark sense of humor – hard to beat all in one author. This, however, is easily the best of his books – encounters with Death, hellhounds that babysit, a goth teenager, and the Big Book of Death make for a quick, witty read. I read this shortly before or after (hard to remember now) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and the two of them make a great combination.

One of my favorite authors, Jonathan Safran Foer, made my favorite books list, too, with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – easily the best book written about 9/11 that I have read. Written from the point of view of a precocious nine-year-old who lost his father in the explosions, it brings not only a different perspective to the tragedies of that day, but also reflects on an older tragedy in Dresden and manages to relate the two of them. Foer’s writing is eloquent and amazing and perfectly believable as a nine-year-old. This is one I guarantee I will read again at some point – and with a reading list as long as mine, that’s saying something.

Finally, a recent add to the favorites (as in, I read it this last year) – Little Bee by Chris Cleave. There are few reviews that will tell you much about this book, and that’s the way the author wants it. This book is tragic and beautiful and I couldn’t put it down. Little Bee is a spectacular character with an amazing story – another must-read. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Although none of them made the list, there are a number of non-fiction books that I also enjoy – especially those that chronicle amazing people like in The Lost City of Z, or The Poisoner’s Handbook.

So, there are a few of my favorites – what are yours?

Kristen’s Favorite Books