Thursday, April 11, 2013

Around the Word

Spring Is Here! As the weather finally warms up after the seemingly endless winter, thoughts turn to sunny days in the park or at the beach with a good book. If you need help picking out your next read, Publishers Weekly has rounded up the most anticipated books of the season, including fiction, non-fiction, travel, and more. Book Riot also shares five new April releases that could make for the perfect outdoor read. Looking for a hilarious book to match that sunny good mood? The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize nominees for the funniest book in Britain were announced this week. Or if you're stuck inside at work, perhaps these delightful pictures of outdoor libraries can tide you over until the weekend. Happy spring!

April Is for Poetry. National Poetry Month is in full swing, and there are so many ways to get inspired and participate. This year the Academy of American Poets is focusing on the role of letter writing in the lives of poets: their website is filled with examples of poets' love letters and poems read as letters. Flavorwire is celebrating with images of incredible handwritten poems by famous authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Emily Dickinson. For a more interactive experience, the Poetry Foundation has a Record-a-Poem feature on their site, which allows people to upload recordings of poems they love. Even the New York Times is getting in on the fun: a software architect at the paper created an algorithm that finds accidental haikus in articles! Still want more? The LA Times' Jacket Copy blog has compiled a number of fun projects, blogs, and events.

Oh, Big Brother. "Teacher Knows If You've Done the E-Reading" is a headline no procrastination-prone student wants to read, but there it was in the New York Times this week. A new startup, CourseSmart, allows professors to track students' reading in their digital textbooks. The major publishers have been tracking data from e-textbooks for years, but CourseSmart puts that data right in professors' hands, allowing them to see not only whether students are reading, but also if they skip pages, how often they open the book, and what they highlight. Is this a little too invasive? Although the professors interviewed were thrilled with the idea, students themselves jokingly bemoaned the "Big Brother" aspect of it. But as the article points out, people are growing accustomed to their data being mined at every turn. Just last summer we did a post on how companies like Barnes & Noble are harvesting data on reading habits from their e-readers. What do you think? Is this an invasion of privacy or just a smart new tool for the digital age? Tell us in the comments.

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