The art of summarizing great works, or “trucks turn in”

Pssst, do you ever read the New York Times bestseller list for children’s picture books?

Have you realized that each picture book listed includes a one-sentence summary?

(The one in the title is for Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site)

Take a look, either online or the next time you’re reading the NYT book review over Sunday breakfast. You might laugh into your coffee. . .

Loading EPUBs (including converted PDFs) onto your e-reader using Calibre

[this post is a follow-up to my post about converting PDFs to an e-reader friendly format using Calibre ebook management software]

Once you’ve got all your ebooks organized, with PDFs converted to the EPUB format, the next step is to load them onto your e-reader. I actually found this a bit confusing the first time I did it (it’s not actually hard – I just couldn’t figure out where to click when!), so I took some screenshots for you.

The first step is to plug in your e-reader. Check to make sure that it is loaded properly: my Kobo Touch shows up as an external drive in Finder when it’s properly loaded, looking like a USB drive, iPod or other external device.

It might take a few seconds for Calibre to recognize your device. When it does, it will let you know:

Screen Shot 2012-06-09 at 2.54.50 PM

(This notice will disappear quite quickly after it pops up, which I find a little frustrating). Once your device is loaded, you will see a “send to device” button in the top toolbar:

Screen Shot 2012-06-09 at 2.55.05 PM

Select the files you wish to send to your device, and click “Send to Device.” It will take a few seconds for the material to be loaded.

To check that your files are properly loaded, you can click on “Device” (next to “Library”) in the top toolbar, and you can view all the files on your e-reader:

Screen Shot 2012-06-09 at 2.55.53 PM

Unplug your e-reader and get reading!

Also, as this screenshot shows, it’s possible to convert PDF knitting patterns as well, although I’ve found that the results are somewhat more hit-and-miss than with articles and books, probably because designers (rightfully) add more white space and special formatting to PDF knitting patterns to facilitate readability. When the conversion does work, though, it can save you from lots of squinting at instructions:

Screen Shot 2012-06-09 at 2.57.32 PM

I hope these instructions are helpful! Although I originally conceived this little tutorial idea when I received a free PDF advance copy of Bowling Avenue, which is now available in non-PDF format for Kindle, Nook, and good old-fashioned paper, I realized that it might be useful and interesting for readers who are more generally interested in cleaning up and organizing their PDFs. I’ve certainly found it a godsend for storing and reading academic articles on the go.

If you like reading news on your ereader, you might also want to check out this article on ProfHacker about Calibre’s “News” feature as well.

Immune system speed-dating

My recent move to Wisconsin has had an unexpected side effect: I have caught three vicious viruses since we got here, including the one I am now fighting, a scant three weeks after I recovered from the last one!

So, my plans for heavy-duty reading of Bowling Avenue have been put on hold. I did read, over the weekend, a biography of Margaret Sanger, which I can’t comment on yet because I’m pretty sure there’s a rule somewhere saying you shouldn’t write about birth control, feminism and eugenics in a public forum if you’re pretty sure you have a fever. I also read, as usual, the New York Times, and particularly enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s “Hello Martians, This is America.”

And somewhere in there I read a free copy of Cook’s Country magazine which arrived unsolicited in my mailbox, dropped there, it seems, specifically to taunt me, an anemic in a vegetarian household, with recipes for pulled pork, roast beef, and several items containing bacon.

For the most part, though, I’ve been doing this:

IMG_2159

Tea with lemon, knitting (a plain shawl with moss stitch edging, out of the lovely Lorna’s Laces Solemate,) and lots of laptop time. In particular, I’m enjoying a systematic reading of one of my favourite blogs: Needled: by Kate Davies, interesting to anyone with an interest in knitting, reading, feminist history, textile history (including the history of bathing suits, the topic of Kate’s latest issue of Textisles, her e-magazine), epublishing, hiking, stroke recovery, home-brewed beer, Scotland, and dogs. In other words, a fair cross-section of those reading this blog, I’m pretty sure . . .