I just finished Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. Great book. I really enjoyed it (review coming soon), but this left me with a problem: what to read next?
I use reading as a method to extend my education and really keep my brain active and puzzling the issues I’m interested in, such as digital marketing, social media, innovation, game design and gamification, and even story structure. But, I often find myself at a loss when it comes to finding a new book to read. I read more than most people I know (a novel and a business/non-fiction book going at the same time, all the time), so asking friends for recommendations doesn’t always work.
I used to go to the bookstore with my smartphone, look at pretty covers and what’s on special and then look up Amazon reviews. Then I would go home and buy it for my Nook. Yes, this works, to a degree, but it’s not the same as seeing what is on everyone else’s shelves, and thus what I should probably read, too, in order to keep up. This weekend I used Reading List by Amazon and was able to do just that.
This is one of the older applications on LinkedIn, so there are probably those of you who are already very familiar with it. Even I’ve been using this application for a while now. But I wasn’t using it to its full capacity. I thought it was a handy way to demonstrate my interests to anyone who bothered to scroll down that far. It could show that I’m truly into my field and the other areas I’m interested in. I honestly just didn’t bother to actually go into more depth with it.
Yet this weekend, as I sat down at my desk trying to figure out what book to purchase next for my Nook, I decided to give the application a go for its intended purpose: networking around books. Thanks to this handy little app, I picked up Free by Chris Anderson. Yes, it’s not new, and I’ve known that it exists for a while. But when I was thinking about what book to read next, this book hadn’t occurred to me at all. That is, until I saw it on a Reading List shelf.
The way the application works is that you add in the titles of all the books you want to read, have read, or are reading. All you need is the title or author since it works just like an Amazon site search to find the books you want. As you work your way through your “want to read” list, you can leave comments and reviews, ticking them off as you move them into the “am reading” and “have read” lists. You can even recommend books. Simple, right?
The useful part comes when you watch the lists of other people. One way to do this is to find people who are in your industry with the Industry Updates list. You can also see who is following your list and then follow them back. Whenever you view another person’s reading list you can also see whose lists they are following and who else is following them. So once you find a person who has similar tastes to you, it’s a simple matter of following them and the other people who have similar tastes. In this way it is like Twitter for books.
There are some drawbacks. As I was exploring I realized that some people’s lists were very out of date or really sparse. Still, like following an inactive Twitter account, you can unfollow later. And honestly, what’s the problem with following an inactive account? I don’t think it will hurt you much.
As I said, I’ve been using Amazon’s Reading List feature for just about a year now but this is the first time I decided to fully explore the application. I think that LinkedIn applications are not as appreciated as they should be. They can be really useful, and even fun. Now that I am following the Reading Lists of several interesting people, I can’t wait to see what books they read and recommend. If you have the application, find my list and follow me. I’ll follow you back.