Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Readernaut: or, how I learned to stop worrying and love my obsessive tendencies about cultural phenomena

My friend Doug Campbell is often on the forefront of the rapidly-unfolding new-Internet-lexicon that is morphing and redefining itself daily. He has an account on just about every media-related website, personal and promotional. Of course, he is therefore x-amount more likely to forget about these accounts and let them gather dust. It was through a link on his tumblr that I discovered Readernaut, and dusted off the poor, overlooked book nerd haven.

Readernaut takes my somewhat-compulsive annual desire to read 50 books to an entirely new, and quite possibly unhealthy, level.* Now, not only can I track how many books I've read, but exactly how many pages I've read in each. And there's a nice little bar for me to track my progress. Convenient!

Perhaps my favorite thing about Readernaut is the "notes" feature - which I have not used except for the "quote" widget. I can forever immortalize (in my Internet life) the few turns of phrase that stand out from otherwise forgettable books. The first time I used it was for a quote from Lowboy, a recent release that was challenging enough to take my time on, but that I honestly will probably never pick up again. John Wray writes:
He forced his eyes shut but her outline persisted, the afterimage bright against his brain. A green, girlshaped pillar rose through the veins of his retina like ivy twining through a chainlink fence. As soon as his eyes were closed her beautiful face began to disassemble. He'd suspected it would. Her features came apart like knitting.
It's absolutely beautiful. I can now forever evoke that imagery, and perhaps even the way the book made me feel at its peak moment (in uncertainty, hope, promise; before it comes crumbling down) whenever I so desire. (Though, I wonder if, in the long run, this will diminish its potency...)

This post is nothing more than a cry for friends (mostly my super-nerdy friends) to join this site! Because, it would be nice to have a little bit of healthy competition. And I am curious about what my friends read (if anything at all.....unless it's Twilight in which I'd rather you just keep it to yourself). Readernaut releases all of my happy endorphins - not just from finishing a book or a pile of books, but even just for finding a brilliant talking point or progressing further along in a particularly challenging tome. Endorphins just for readers! Take that, all ye illiterate Farmville degenerates!

*Mind you that the starting point here is a girl with a folder on her laptop called "Cultural Consumption," (there's really no more glamorous way to describe this) including lists of all of the books she's read for the past four years, lists of suggestions (movies/music) she has made for others, suggestions people have made to her, Excel spreadsheets of every episode of
This American Life (idea stolen from Doug) and Doctor Who [every episode ever] just to keep track... This girl would also be devestated if she ever had to give up Netflix, on which her account shows (nearly) every movie she has watched for the past two years and makes uncanny suggestions daily.