06/05/2021 · Michael Schmitt · permalink
Whew, it's been a while! After a break for rest and family, I've been adding more books to Serial Reader.
Previously I tried to highlight new books on a weekly basis but that cadence got away from me, so going forward I'm going to try a monthly blog post that I'll update as new books arrive. The latest titles from June 2021 are listed below, including Rabindranath Tagore's autobiography, an eerie prediction of the Titantic's sinking, Helen Keller's autobiography, P.T. Barnum's exploration of "humbugs," and more.
01/01/2021 · Michael Schmitt · permalink
Happy 2021! Today all works published in 1925 enter the US public domain and many are now available to read in Serial Reader!
It was an impressive year for literature -- an article from the BBC even suggests "1925 may well be literature’s greatest year" -- with famous titles like The Great Gatsby, Mrs. Dalloway, The New Negro, and An American Tragedy, as well as works from Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, P.G. Wodehouse, Aldous Huxley, and more.
The themes and focal points from 1925's literature certainly resonate in 2021: conflict brought on by differences in race, social, and economic classes, questions on the attainability of the American dream, the complexity of medical care and new technology. "The literature reflected both a booming economy, whose fruits were unevenly distributed, and the lingering upheaval and tragedy of World War I," writes Jennifer Jenkins, Director of Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain. "The culture of the time reflected all of those contradictory tendencies."
"These books weren’t just original, even revolutionary, creations," wrote Jane Ciabattari for the BBC. "They were helping to establish the very idea of modernity, to make sense of the times."
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Jazz Age story of lavish Long Island parties, a young mysterious millionaire, and the woman he loved. Arguably one of the greatest novels ever written, exploring themes of decadence, idealism, and the American dream.
"It has almost the status of a holy work, and it’s seen as embodying all kinds of things about American values and society... one of those remarkable literary works that seems to adapt to its times." - James L. W. West III
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
Over the course of a single day, Clarissa Dalloway prepares for a high-society party and is struck with memories of the past. Considered Woolf's greatest novel.
"A remarkably expansive and an irreducibly strange book. Nothing you might read in a plot summary prepares you for the multitudes it contains" - Jenny Offill in The New Yorker
The New Negro - Edited by Alain Locke
An anthology of fiction, poetry, and essays on African and African-American art and literature, including W.E.B. du Bois, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston. Considered to be the definitive text of the Harlem Renaissance.
"Locke became a 'mid-wife to a generation of young writers,' as he labeled himself, a catalyst for a revolution in thinking called the New Negro. The deeper truth was that he, Alain Locke, was also the New Negro, for he embodied all of its contradictions as well as its promise. Rather than lamenting his situation, his marginality, his quiet suffering, he would take what his society and his culture had given him and make something revolutionary out of it." - Jeffrey C. Stewart
An American Tragedy - Theodore Dreiser
Ambitious Clyde Griffiths stumbles through romance and tragedy, struggling with taking responsibility. Based on an actual criminal case, it stands as a harsh commentary on the dark side of the American dream.
"Dreiser builds an extraordinarily detailed portrait of early twentieth-century America, its religious and sexual hypocrisies, its economic pressures, its political corruption and journalistic exploitation... Dreiser elevates the most mundane aspects of what he observes into emotionally charged, often harrowing symbols." - Thomas P. Riggio
Manhattan Transfer - John Dos Passos
Painting an "expressionistic picture of New York" from the Gilded Age to the Jazz Age, Dos Passos examines the lives of wealthy power brokers and struggling immigrants. Described as "the best modern book about New York."
"The rapid-transit, discontinuous narrative brilliantly captures the pace of the city, the sense of brief, promiscuous contact with other lives. The metallically impersonal narrative voice carries the hard-edged din of the city at the same time that it keeps us at a distance from the residents... an intriguing narrative experiment, and a fascinating portrait of the great American city in the early years of the century" - Jay McInerney
Arrowsmith - Sinclair Lewis
Described as the first "scientific" novel, Lewis follows the life of Martin Arrowsmith through the turbulence of his professional and romantic lives, satirizing those who pursue science for fortune at the expense of truth.
"From medical practice to public health and scientific discovery, from the unbridled ambitions of medical students and doctors to the complexities of delivering medical care in a diverse nation like the United States, 'Arrowsmith' delivers with humor and brio a slate of important lessons for everyone concerned about 21st century health care." - Dr. Howard Markel
More 1925 Works Now Available
12/05/2020 · Michael Schmitt · permalink
The holiday season is upon us! And as usual, Christmas is approaching faster the more things you have to do before the big day. You can easily squeeze in some reading during the holidays though with many classics short enough to finish before Christmas - even if you're reading in just 20 minutes a day.
Here are some of the best Christmas stories available from Serial Reader, including classics from Charles Dickens, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Washington Irving, Louisa May Alcott, and more:
Find more great Christmas books in the Christmas collection in Serial Reader.
12/03/2020 · Michael Schmitt · permalink
Long list of new books available in Serial Reader to announce, including works from Oscar Wilde, John Stuart Mill, Louisa May Alcott, Jack London, E.M. Forster, Clark Ashton Smith and more. Selections also include the adventures of Zorro, horrible plagues, outer space mysteries, and murderous gargoyles.
10/28/2020 · Michael Schmitt · permalink
Just a quick post to highlight some great collections of spooky stories for the Halloween season available from Serial Reader. Whether you're looking for chills, weird tales, or laughs (we see you Sir Simon) there's plenty of great books to choose from:
Happy Halloween and happy reading! 🎃
10/27/2020 · Michael Schmitt · permalink
With the latest new version of Serial Reader released today you can now automatically serialize your own books, in addition to the over 750 classic books available in the app! Plus there are some extra new features for iOS folks, including homescreen widgets and custom reading schedules
Serialize Your Books
With version 4.0 of Serial Reader, you can now serialize and read your own books in addition to the 750+ classic books available in the app. Simply add any EPUB file in the app and Serial Reader will automatically divide the book into bite-sized issues, each able to be read in 20 minutes or less. It's a great way to tackle more challenging books or just fit more reading into your busy day.
I've been reading a couple of my own books in Serial Reader this way. It's been especially helpful for reading a sometimes less-than-thrilling book for my day job on working remotely (hi, 2020) as well as some fiction. You can see below just started rereading the Star Wars Thrawn trilogy and The Great Gatsby. If you own some EPUB books and have had trouble getting through them, or want to read them a bit more slowly, reading them in small bits once a day is a great way to progress through a book and retain more info.
If you've upgraded to Serial Premium you can add as many of your books as you'd like! Other users can add one of their own books to try out the new feature.
Also new in version 4.0 for iOS users are handy new homescreen widgets that help you keep track of your current books. Each one is super customizable with a range of colors and fonts to help the widgets fit in to any screen layout.
Not only that, but with version 4.0 of Serial Reader you can also now set custom delivery days for specific books. This lets you configure which days and which hour you want to receive new issues for particular books. Want to only receive new issues on weekends? Every other day? Now you can! Select which hour and days you want new issues for each subscribed book with Serial Reader's iOS version.
I've been working on Serial Reader for just about 5 years now, which is honestly hard to wrap my mind around. What started as a personal project with a couple books, focused on improving my own reading habits, has grown into a multiplatform project with more than 750 books and thousands of readers.
Thank you all for your support! Please keep the great ideas, feedback, and questions coming. You've helped make Serial Reader what it is and I'll absolutely need your help keeping it improving over the next 5 years. I hope your next great read is right around the corner!
08/19/2020 · Michael Schmitt · permalink
Yikes it's been a while since I had some new books to let you know about! I've been working hard on updates to the Serial Reader app. Stay tuned for more on that, or join the beta program to get an early look at new features before they're widely available.
New selections now available in Serial Reader include a fascinating history of Hawaii from its last monarch, Queen Liliʻuokalani, as well as a more leisurely travelogue from Henry David Thoreau in "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers." As for fiction, journey to the midst of the Jacobite Rising with Walter Scott's "Waverley," or the depths of WWI with "Three Soldiers" by John Dos Passos, or into outer space with John W. Campbell's sci-fi adventures.
04/03/2020 · Michael Schmitt · permalink
It's April 2020 and things are not normal. If you're like me, your reading habits have been thrown into disarray like so much else right now. I've found myself running between comfortable escapes and imagined grim futures we seem to suffering through. I thought I'd offer some collections of books available in Serial Reader for anyone else feeling the same way.
Frankenstein author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley describes in The Last Man a deadly plague that threatens to destroy society. Arthur Conan Doyle's The Poison Belt - a sequel of sorts to The Lost World - Professor Challenger and associates try to survive a planet-wide wave of death. Finally, Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year vividly chronicles the Great Plague which ravaged London in 1665.
It's more than ok to look to escape and what better option than the adventures of Rat, Toad, and Mole in The Wind in the Willows? Or perhaps the hilarious idiocy of Wooster and his friends in My Man Jeeves? Or take a more relaxing approach with The Book of Tea: an essay aimed at explaining the connection between teaism, Taoism, and the aesthetics of Japanese culture to a western audience.
Explore how the world may be made better with ruminations on utopias, from Thomas More's Utopia, to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's vision of a peaceful world absent of men in Herland, to the utopian adventure that awaits in Anna Adoplh's Arqtiq.
If reading in short bursts really isn't working for you these days, I highly recommend Standard Ebooks for high quality public domain books, or Libby for checking digital books out from your local library.
Hope everyone stays safe and sane! We can do this 💪
It's Getting Spooky: New Dark Mode features and app icons in iOS, scary story suggestions for Halloween
09/25/2019 · Michael Schmitt · permalink
Dark Mode support and customizable reading themes now available in Serial Reader for iOS
A new update is rolling out today for Serial Reader on iOS devices with support for iOS 13, especially Apple's new Dark Mode feature! Serial Reader will now automatically shift from light to dark themes when your device activates Dark Mode.
Additionally, you can now select different reading themes to use for light and dark modes! By default the reading screen will shift to a black theme automatically when Dark Mode is enabled. However, you can customize which particualr reading theme should be used by tapping the Settings icon in the top right while reading, then selecting the "Theme" option.
Maybe you'd prefer a light reading theme in Dark Mode, or you'd like a parchment-style theme regardless of what mode is enabled - whatever your preference, you can now customize Serial Reader to look just the way you want!
There are also a new selection of alternate app icons to choose from in iOS for Serial Premium folks, including a fun new Halloween option!
Speaking of Halloween, starting today you'll find some spooky story suggestions while browsing for new books in Serial Reader. And come October, don't miss the Halloween collection of scary stories!
07/31/2019 · Michael Schmitt · permalink
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." How foolish indeed to go so long without such classics as The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and The Merchant of Venice available in Serial Reader!
The wrong has been righted this week with the addition of several Shakespearean comedies, joining others already available like Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Jumping forward a few hundred years, we come to an unsettling short story of an eerie doppelgänger from Edgar Allan Poe, which may have been an inspiration for Jordan Peele's horror film "Us"
From fictional horrors to those all too real: read Nellie Bly's undercover investigation of the brutality and neglect in late 19th century insane asylums with Ten Days in a Mad-House. Her work "pioneered a path for women in newspapers and launched what morphed into serious investigative journalism," writes The Washington Post. Bly's work is being recognized at long last with a monument in her honor in New York.
Other new additions this week include a philosophical monument in Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, treasured children stories from Beatrix Potter, and a sci-fi short story from Mack Reynolds.
Until next week, happy reading!