Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How to Read an Elephant

You've heard the old saying about how to eat an elephant? Answer: one bite at a time.

I discovered a great new resource that lets you apply the same principles to reading. It's called DailyLit, and it allows you to read some of those mammoth works of literature in small, easily-digested bites.

This is how it works. You create a free account, then choose a book you would like to read. All the books on the site are in electronic form and are divided into small segments. You choose how and when you would like to receive segments. The short ones only take five minutes or so to read.

You can have a segment delivered via email or blog reader--once a day, once a week, or somewhere in between. Or choose longer segments. If you get really caught up in the story and have time (ha ha!) and want more, you can go to the site and read more installments on demand.

Or, as happened in my case, when you get behind in your daily readings, you can suspend delivery until you catch up.

Most of the books I looked at are classics in the public domain, and they're available for free. Newer books are also available for purchase.

You may wonder why anyone would want to read a book this way. For me, the biggest reason is a long list of sort of heavy, classic books that I truly want to read but can't ever seem to make time for. For example, I've been wanting a refresher on Greek and Roman mythology. I work in a college library, so I could check out a volume or two and read it any time--if I would just do it. But I don't. Now, three times a week, I have a section of Bulfinch's Mythology showing up in my feed reader. So when I go to read my blogs, I read a little mythology, too. Before you know it, I'll be an expert!

So if you're always scrounging for more reading time, and particularly if you'd like to revisit some of the Great Books and writers, check out DailyLit.


  1. Interesting idea, Robin. There are some classics I wouldn't mind reading. For instance, I've always wanted to read Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, but never have read any of their books. But I'd be afraid I would forget what was going on if I read it that slowly.

  2. That sounds great. I'll have to give it a try. I'm already seriously behind in blog reading, though, so I don't know how it will work. It is nice knowing a reseach expert like yourself, though, who can let us know what cool stuff is out there without our having to look for it ourselves.

  3. wow...what a cool resource! i will have to try this

  4. That sounds great! There are a lot of classics that I need to re-read (or read for the first time!). Thanks for the heads up!