Fighting Over Books

Came across an interesting article in the New York Times today about book groups and the difficulty of finding just the right one.

It seems there are dozens of problems and incompatibilities that crop up. Some people want to read the books that Oprah picks; others want to read classics; still others want to read chick lit. And so on.

If you’ve got a few minutes, it’s an excellent article.

==> Fought Over Any Good Books Lately?

-Ryan M. Healy

It’s All About Reading

My Book Log is not about how many books you own or how many books you buy.

It’s about how many books you actually READ.

Think about this: Most best-selling books may not actually be the best-read books. Just because somebody buys a book doesn’t mean he or she reads it.

Full bookshelves and an empty mind are not the goal.

That’s why My Book Log encourages you, more than anything else, to track and review the books you read. It’s a tool for recording the literary landscape you’ve traveled… and the vistas stretched out before you.

What’s more, because My Book Log tracks how many books you read in a year, it’s also a tool to motivate you to read more.

Have you only read four or five books in the past year? Do you think you can double your pace and read 10 this year?

My Book Log can help you achieve that.

Have you experienced a major life interruption (like a newborn baby), and you fear you won’t be able to read as much as you used to?

Then use My Book Log to help you track your pace — and maintain it. Ultimately, it is a game you play against yourself or among friends.

How many books can you read?

-Ryan M. Healy

I Like to Read While I Eat Lunch

I’ve always loved to read. I read anytime I get the chance. When I was a boy in school I went to the school library and checked out book after book and spent time in the library reading. At lunch I would hang out with other friends who also liked to read and we would talk about the latest thing we were learning in our books…usually UFO conspiracies and fun stuff like that.

When I get a really fun book that grabs me and I can’t put it down…I don’t. I will drop everything else and read all day long and long into the night to finish it. That is rare though. It happens with Terry Pratchett novels but rarely does it happen with a self-help or business book. Of course occasionally I’ll also read in bed before I go to sleep but that isn’t a habit, it is just hit-and-miss.

No, the habit I’ve cultivated over the last couple of decades is to make sure I take a book with me when I go out for lunch.

I love…simply LOVE…sitting in a restaurant alone, eating great food, especially Chinese food, and reading for an hour or two in the early afternoon. That’s the luxury of having had a salaried job. I was able to take whatever time I wanted for lunch. I guess usually I don’t spend much more than an hour away because I always made my own jokes about my long lunches (before someone else could get a shot in) and one of my co-workers told me it really didn’t seem like I was abusing it. Maybe I just wasn’t missed!

Another thought I’ve always had about my lunch reading habit is what I call “the true cost of reading a book.” Before I got my Kindle I would tuck away each receipt for lunch in the book I was reading at the time. If the book has a lot of pages or if it didn’t really captivate my attention and it took more sittings than normal it could really accumulate quite a few receipts! So I would calculate the cost of the book plus the cost of each of the meals I ate while reading it and that is what it would truly cost me to read that particular book. You’ve got to see those hidden costs.

But even with the “high cost” they have been worth every penny. I look forward to exploring new worlds at the dinner table each day.

With just this amount of time devoted to reading I’ve been able to stack up quite a bit of book logs. I wish I had started this site much sooner to have kept track of everything I’ve ever read.

Recently I quit my job and have started doing web development full time. I never took time out to eat breakfast before but now I am making time to start the day right, and that includes some reading time at my kitchen table in the morning. I’m eating more lunches at home but I’m still reading while I do. We’ll see if this double exposure makes my book logs increase at twice the speed as well!

When and where is your favorite time and place to read?

Faster Site and a Reading Widget

I think you’re going to be quite happy with the site performance now. has been moved to a new server and now the database errors are mostly a thing of the past! Whew!

I think I’ll name names.

We originally hosted this site at GoDaddy. They put your web site on one server and your database on another. I’m not sure what they put inbetween but it is not very reliable. Sometimes the database would be there, sometimes it wouldn’t.

So I went looking.

Earlier this week I moved to DreamHost. I didn’t realize it at first but they also put the database on a different server. I spent a solid day trying to get things set up and I’m not sure how reliable their database was because I couldn’t get that far. Repeatedly the whole site would just become unavailable for a long time…randomly. In frustration I gave up on them.

The next day I moved the site to HostGator. Much better! It’s been fast, the database has been reliable and I was able to get it up-and-running in a couple of short hours. Of course I had a lot of experience by then.

Hopefully you’ve noticed this improvement in the last few days. I know I’ve been enjoying the increased speed and the reliability.

With that problem solved I’ve been able to concentrate on some other improvements. I have created a “widget” that you can use to display what books you’re reading now on other sites. If you’ve got a WordPress blog like this one for instance, you can add a small JavaScript snippet to your sidebar.php template like I’ve done here.

You can get your MyBookLog Widget code in your settings.

Who’s on First?

I’ve updated the home page with some interesting facts about the loggers here on MyBookLog and the books they read. Who owns the most books? What book has the most 3 star ratings? Those questions are now answered on the home page. Check it out and see if your picture is featured!

You haven’t uploaded a picture to your profile yet? Why not? Log in and click on the Settings link in the upper right corner of the screen and upload one today!

Celebrate Books

MyBookLog gives you a simple way to pay homage to the books you’ve read. It’s called a book log. Consider it a digital monument to the knowledge and stories that fill your mind.

I began my personal book log in the 8th grade on a Brother word processor. Not because it was an assignment, but because I was inspired. And in January of every year thereafter, I would print the pages, hole-punch them, and store them in a skinny half inch binder with flexible plastic covers. I still use the same binder to this day.

Believe it or not, I’ve recorded every single book I’ve read since I started my project. And I’m so glad I did. As I skim the pages of my personal book log, I’m reminded of what trustworthy companions my books have been to me.

Now YOU have the opportunity to start your own book log. It will be simple because I planned it that way. You’ll be able to:

  • Easily record the details of every book you ever read through a simple online interface.
  • Share the books you read with others by inviting friends and family to your book log. (You’ll get to select a unique name for your book log when you register.)
  • Print out a permanent record of your book log to save in a binder or folder.

If you’re an adult, this a great way to “keep score” of the books you read. Whether you are 20 or 30 or 50 years old, it doesn’t matter. Starting your book log today can be one of the best decisions you ever make.

And if you are a child or teenager, you’re in an excellent position to make your life’s book log as complete as possible. Start yours today and you will thank yourself when you’re older. Trust me — I’m a testament to that!

As the saying goes, the best things in life are free. Just like this web site is. You’ll be able to create your own account and start your book log today without paying a dime. So go ahead. Register today to get started. I look forward to hearing about all the books you’ve read.

-Ryan M. Healy

Add Books & Upload Your Own Cover Images Now…

I’ve just updated to do two new things: First, if you’ve got a book with a valid ISBN but it’s not listed in Amazon you can now add it yourself manually. Second, if you notice missing or bad data on any book you can edit the book information. And Third….THREE!…Three new things!…you can upload your own cover images. So if the copy you have has a different image than the default image, or there is no default image, you can upload yours.

I know you didn’t expect this since a lot of other sites don’t have these particular features. But you are a book lover and we trust you with the data about your books.

In the not too distant future, maybe next Sunday A.D.?, I’ll try to add a way for you to add books that don’t have an ISBN.