I love to read, but I was never a fast reader. My eyes stroll over text at a leisurely pace, stopping at new words to investigate their meanings, hanging out with familiar, but seldom used words to see how they fall in a sentence, and retracing whole passages when they are either beautifully written, or the true meaning didn't emerge at first pass.
Unlike the skill of cursive writing, reading appears to be an ability we must have even as the technology that supports and present the text we read is changing. In fact, it is because of rapidly evolving technology that being able to read and read quickly has become almost as essential to our social lives as the ability to speak.
Try getting along for one hour during your busy day without reading anything. Advertising, instructions, computers, and TV are suddenly lost to you. Even modern radios display song titles and artists.
Thanks to Siri you can make phone calls, and send and receive text messages without reading, and you may even be able to compose short emails without glancing at a screen, but using that interface is still a work in progress, and it may be years before we can realize a modern existence without words that must be read somehow. And the truth is that I hope I never know a time when reading is not an essential and enjoyable part of life.
Such a time is certainly not upon us. More text is being produced today that any other time in human history, so we'll never run out of stuff to read. Much of what's being produced can only be read electronically. If you don't have a computer, tablet, or smart phone there are virtual mountains of information, stories, and other data that is not and will never be available to you as they will like never appear in traditional paper print. Whether you see that as a good thing or not is an argument for another time, but e-text is here to stay, so having the right tools to view it can enhance your reading experience.
Here are three free iOS apps that you might want to look at if reading is a focus for you, so lets get to it.
ReadMill [22.2mb, all iOS devices capable of running iOS 6.0 or later. Maker: Readmill Networks Ltd.]
A classic is ReadMill
Having a good eReader is an essential tool. So much so that some folks buy a dedicated device just for the purpose of reading eBooks and other virtual text. If you have an iDevice you have access to iBooks, but you might want to take a look at ReadMill as well.
There two major features that may make ReadMill your default reader. First, it's falling of a log simple.
Four icons along the bottom of the home screen gets you into your books,(the Book icon), the store (the Star icon), the social feature (the text bubble icon. More about this in a bit.) and your profile.
More material in ReadMill
Open a book and you'll find nothing to distract you as you read. No icons or tabs, just you and clear, clean text. If you need to access any of the simple controls you tap the screen and they appear. Controlling the book is gesture simple as well.
The social feature is the second bit of unique coolness ReadMill has to offer. Get an account and find out what others are reading. Get suggestions or chat up authors or friends about your reads. You're not limited to the built in social network, ping your buddies on any of the more popular virtual hangouts too.
ReadMill is a nice reader that's free and easy, so give it a whirl.
JukePop [4.8mb, all iOS devices capable of running iOS 5.0 or later. Maker: Jerry Fan]
Back in the days when radio was king people tuned in weekly to catch the latest installment of whatever serial they happen to be into. The idea was popular because each episode carried the story forward in an intriguing way so that you'll want to come back for what happens next.
What if you applied that idea to ebooks, doling out knuckle biting stories one chapter at a time? That's the concept behind JukePop.
Huge list of good stuff to read in JukePop
Authors offer up story chapters, readers read them and vote on the ones they want to read more of. JukePop then pays the author if his or her story is popular.
It's a cool concept made cooler by the caliber of the serials being posted. JukePop helps authors with the publishing details and even offer guidance on how the improve their stories for the serial format.
It's a unique concept that I truly hope takes off. Check out JukePop.
LibriVox [3.2mb, all iOS devices capable of running iOS 6.0 or later. Maker: Theodore Book]
A long while back in another article I mentioned LibriVox because it was a good idea then. It's still a grand idea now so I'm mentioning it again.
The LibriVox app is just the front end of an excellent service where volunteers read material that is then made freely available to the general public. If you or someone you know is visually challenged then this is a stellar service.
The LibriVox catalog contains thousands of book, poems, and short stories all read, edited, and distributed by volunteers. And we're not just talking about public domain material either, though that is available, of course. The list of genres seem to go on forever. Everything from Action & Adventure to Writing and Linguistics. You really have to take a look at the catalog yourself to appreciate how much is there.
Listen to someone else read in LibriVox
The simple app lets you stream your selections, which are provided in bite sized chapter chunks. The app keeps track of where you are and has a sleep timer so you can return to where you left when you nodded off.
This is a great way to catch up on classics you've been meaning to read, but haven't found the time. And, if you're looking for a good way to volunteer you might try you hand ..., er, voice at narrating a book, poem, or short story of your choice for others to hear.
That's a wrap for this week. While you're here you might want to grab Spark Camera, this week's free App of the Week. It's an app that lets you shoot 45 second HD vids and post them for others to enjoy.
Also check out the Free Single of the Week from Jetta called Start a Riot.