Kick Back With Some Light Reading This Weekend

If you’re looking to take it easy this weekend, why not expand your brain (and your social skills) with the written word? Here are some of our favourite gadgets, services and tricks for getting the most out of your reading.

Image: Florin Gorgan.

What To Read On?

These days, you’ve got a bevy of devices that let you read books, articles, and even comic books almost instantly. Amazon’s Kindle (and its many iterations) is an obvious choice, especially if you don’t want to stare at a bright screen all day (plus, you can make your own ereader light overlay so you can keep reading in the dark). However, you probably can’t go wrong with the iPad or your favourite Android tablet, or even their smartphone counterparts. If you don’t have an ebook reader, you can always turn your netbook into a feature-rich ebook reader, too.

All that said, we don’t want to leave good old-fashioned paper out — after all, reading on paper is faster, and depending on what books you’re reading, it could be cheaper than the digital alternative.

Finding Good Stuff to Read

If you’re short on suggestions, the internet’s here to help you out. If you’re looking for books, check out our five favourite book recommendation services if you’re a bookworm, or just see what books are available for free or cheap on the Kindle. Alternatively, let other bookworms recommend you something through YourNextRead.

If you’re more of a news junkie, try a service like Summify, which monitors your reading habits and sends you the day’s five most important articles among your interests. You could also check out one of the iPad’s many great “magazine” apps, like Flipboard, Zite or Editions. If you’re a Twitter user, Smartr will turn your Twitter feed into an organised news reader using the links your friends have all shared. Lastly, Send Me a Story will send you weekly long-form non-fiction articles at random, perfect for reading something you might not have picked yourself.

Save Articles for Later Reading with Apps

You probably run into a lot of interesting articles during the week, but don’t have time to read them right away. For that, there’s bookmark-and-read-later apps. The two most notable are Instapaper and Read It Later, which are available for a number of platforms, and turn any web article into an easily readable, available-offline read for later on. Of course, if you feel the need for more customisation, Google Reader makes a dandy read-it-later app, and gives you tons of control over how you use it. You can even just make web pages readable with Readabilty and save them as PDFs.

These services are popular enough that lots of folks have found ways to integrate them with the other apps you use every day. For instance, you can use Instascriber to automatically send articles from a certain RSS feed to Instapaper, or send them straight there from Google Reader with InstaReader. You can also give Instapaper a nice face lift and keyboard shortcuts with a few user scripts. And, if you’re having trouble sending emails and newsletters to these services, there’s a trick that can get past that barrier also.

Got your own favourite tip, trick, or web service for reading your favourite books and articles? Share it with us in the comments.

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