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DailyLit: 5-minute literature chunks, via email or RSS
Merlin Mann | Aug 1 2007
To know me today, you'd never imagine how many hundreds of pages a week I read in college. Surprises me, anyhow. While I've devolved into an accomplished skimmer of Harper's and the The New York Times Magazine, I rarely find (or, make) the time to finish a whole book about anything that's not related to "work." That's why I'm intrigued by DailyLit, a service that leverages rather than battles the tendency to hang out online.
The idea is simple enough: select a "free" book that appeals to you, then, every day or two, via either email or RSS, the DailyLit robot sends you a section that's readable in about five minutes. If you want more at any time -- the digital equivalent of turning the page -- just click to have the next installment sent, then keep on a'reading.
The variety of available selections is handsome, including favorites like Tristram Shandy, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The Devil's Dictionary and over 400 more. Feeling ambitious? Try War and Peace (675 5-minute parts), The Count of Monte Cristo (581 parts), or Don Quixote (448 parts). Want something a little lighter? You can't go wrong with Candide (42 parts) or A Modest Proposal (4 [still hilarious] parts).
The site could benefit from a few additions -- there's no link to download a full version of the book or to directly request a dead-tree copy from the local library (ala) -- but the clean design and stripped-down approach generally suits the functionality; the action is all happening in email and your feed reader, so the site just acts to manage subscriptions and afford finding new books.
I don't thinks DailyLit's intended as a replacement for holding a real book in your hand, and it would be cynical to imply that it is. Seems to me it's basically a clever life hack for people who want to read more but who'd benefit from a short ramp and a timer. By sneaking the medicine into a mini-sized Oreo, we may just find ourselves getting back into a reading habit.
For myself, I'm not promising any college-style 1,000 pages per week, but I'm certainly game for giving T.S. Eliot five minutes of my time this morning. And then another five tomorrow...then another five....
[via: Cool Tools]
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