A daily dose of books (DailyLit)

I was reorganizing my bookmarks a few days ago and came upon quite a few interesting literary/reading/writing websites that I had previously bookmarked, some of them for checking out at a later date. One of these is DailyLit, a service that brings books to you via email on a daily basis.

We created DailyLit because we spent hours each day on email but could not find the time to read a book. Now the books come to us by email. Problem solved.

Subscribers can choose books to read, schedule when they receive each book’s installment (daily, on weekdays, or only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays? at what time?) and choose if they’d like to receive it via email or RSS. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has 149 parts, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina—which I chose to receive—has 430 parts, and another one of my choices, the first part of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, Agamemnon just has 24 parts. There are over 250 books served by DailyLit, all of them in the public domain (sorry, no Harry Potter here).

It’s a nifty idea, and one I always meant to try out. So when I came across the website just recently, I decided that while I usually prefer not having to spend such a long period of time over anything (for example, I hardly watch TV; I prefer buying whole seasons of TV shows just so that I don’t get the cliffhanger episode endings!), right now it was probably best for me to read books in short, manageable chunks. Personally, I haven’t been able to do a lot of reading lately, especially new books; recently, when I gravitate towards books, it’s always been towards books I have already read in the past, such as Catherine Marshall’s Julie, or Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. It’s not a lack of new books that’s the problem (I actually bought two last week: Amy Tan’s Saving Fish From Drowning and Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale) but I realized that I was drawn towards previously-read books because they were comforting, like old friends you can stay quiet with, ones where you need no words to fill the spaces between you (which doesn’t look like a very good metaphor, as friendships between books and people are based on words themselves). They’re not very demanding of your “love”. Since the prospect of picking up a semi-thick/thick book to read while I’m resting was making me tired, small light chunks while I’m going through my email should be great, right?

So far, as previously mentioned, I’d picked up Anna Karenina and Oresteia: Agamemnon, on the third part for both. I’m liking how the reading is going so far: it’s not demanding, each part’s length isn’t daunting, and I’ll admit it, the nifty-ness of the whole thing hasn’t worn off. I’ve never been the sort to read e-books, preferring good ol’ paper when it comes to reading text; but since DailyLit gives me these books in readable, light chunks, it’s actually enjoyable to have a dose of the classics amidst the hitting of the delete button for spam. ;)

So what’s great about DailyLit?

  1. Too busy for books? Each part sent to you are just the right length, so it doesn’t take up too much of your time.
  2. It’s free! Since all the books are in the public domain and you don’t pay a thing to get it via email/RSS, you’re reading books for free and without stepping on anyone’s toes.
  3. A dose of the classics in between stressful emails is great for slowing down and relaxing.
  4. You can schedule when you receive each part, so that it follows your preferred habits as much as possible.
  5. This is a great way to “test read” books before buying them.

What’s not so hot:

  1. I imagine that when the book starts getting really good, it will get annoying to have to stop reading. But that’s what the bookstore is for: like it so much that you can’t put it down? Buy the book!
  2. The plain text formatting of the books sent can take a little getting used to, if you’re not used to reading things from places like Project Gutenberg. Tip: words between underscores (_) are italics. I have yet to see it, but words between asterisks (*) are in heavy type.

All in all, I’d recommend this website to anyone who’s been itching to read a few classics and older work but haven’t the time or feel quite clueless as to where to start. It’s free and it’s friendly, so start subscribing. :)