A Couple of Good Reads

It’s interesting to keep track of what one reads, and to see what others are reading and what they think of those books. Yes, I said books, thus consigning this post and its author to the dustbin of pre-postliterate history.

I’ve used a few different what-am-I-reading web services, and have settled on Goodreads. My profile/history shows mainly fiction. It excludes much of the nonfiction I pick up, because I refer to it rather than read it. It also excludes most of the books I read to my kids (6 and 3) because they are my kids’ “reading” rather than mine.

I have recently made a couple of exceptions to this policy. One is for Stink and the World’s Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers. As those of you versed in the classics will know, Stink is the younger brother of Judy Moody.

In Stinky Sneakers, we find out that Stink is a discriminating sniffer as well as a smelly-sneakered source of scent. We also find out how he got the nickname Stink. This is not a book for the faint of heart or nose, but it is my favorite of the half-dozen or so Megan McDonald books we’ve read.

The other exceptional book is WordPress For Dummies. I admit that it’s not the first For Dummies book I’ve read, or considered good. Then again, I didn’t really read it.

As usual with tech books, I scanned it rather than read it, I was aware of the danger that it might already be out of date, and I know that a lot of the information is available online anyway. But if you want a book on WordPress, this one is pretty good. It sets a fairly gentle pace. At the same time, it covers a lot of ground: for example, there are chapters on setting up WordPress MU (multi-user).

I see that a new edition of WordPress For Dummies is due out later this year. I presume that’ll cover WordPress 3.0, which is due out soon.

Build-a-Bear Builds its Database

Build-a-Bear Workshop is cutting-edge as well as cuddly. I previously remarked on it as an example of mass customization.

Now we see that BaB is treading that line between gathering information and invading privacy. Denise Howell (lawyer and blogger, via BB Cory) describes the process of getting a birth certificate for a new-built bear.

Before their new friend can get its birth certificate, the kids are prompted to enter a host of very personal personal information: birth date, home address, gender, phone, and email among them.

Denise saw parent after parent helping their kids provide this information, some of them “the same parents driving themselves to distraction with fear over their evening chardonnays about MySpace and FaceBook.” Picking up on that Facebook reference, it seems that the Bear can be more seductive than the Beacon.

Lookybook: Looking at Picture Books

Now here’s a rather wonderful idea. Lookybook allows you to look at picture books in their entirety.

It’s like a test drive track for kid’s books. I expect that many of the test drives will lead to purchases, and hence that the site will make money from its affiliate programs. I don’t think that it will be seen as providing a substitute for real books, and neither do the folks behind the Lookybook. “We know that nothing will replace the magic of reading a book with your child.”

I’ve started setting up my bookshelf. I would embed a book in this post, but WordPress.com restrictions prevent me using the widget that Lookybook provides. I like a lot of things about the site, including the fact that it refers to itself as a preview rather than a beta.

Things I’d like to see added include: a wishlist feature; tagging; a blog (Lookyblog?). And more books. There are currently a couple of hundred, with plans to get that above a thousand next year. I wish a prosperous holiday season to Lookybook, and to Drawn!, where I read about Lookybook.