Elementary school teachers hand out summer reading lists to students, but grownups who love summer reading have to construct their own lists. A website called GoodReads (goodreads.com) can help. Readers create an account, log and rate books, and explore recommendations and user reviews to find new books to add to the list. GoodReads also lets users know how to find each book, with links to online retailers like Amazon and local library listings.
Once the list is made, an inexpensive way to get books is Paperback Swap (paperbackswap.com), a website through which users can list books they'd like to swap and request books from others (users must only pay postage on books they mail). Of course, local libraries are wonderful places to borrow paper copies of books. And soon, Kindle users can take advantage of the library, too: Amazon recently announced the launch of Kindle Library Lending, which not only allows users to borrow books from the library on a Kindle but to take notes and write in the "margins"-without leaving behind notes for the next patron. And if a reader takes notes in a book, returns it to the library, and then buys it, his notes will be preserved.
Farmer's markets are back in full swing in most places, with a wide variety of seasonal produce once again becoming available. One way to locate markets near home is the LocalHarvest website (localharvest.org), which lists farmer's markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups, and farms, as well as co-ops and even restaurants with local produce. The site also links to blogs from local farmers, so you can find out what's at the farm stand this week.
Of course, the great variety of produce sometimes means staring at an oddly shaped vegetable at the market, wondering what it is and how to cook it. An iPhone and iPad app called Farmers' Market Companion ($0.99) provides a guide to over 85 fruits and vegetables to help intrepid shoppers identify produce. It also gives guidelines for storing produce properly to maximize its shelf life, as well as tips for choosing the best produce, recipes for preparation, and other useful information. Non-iPhone users can try the web: Popular cooking site Epicurious (epicurious.com) provides a "Seasonal Cooking" guide, and the Food Network's website (foodnetwork.com) has an "In Season Now" tab that includes recipes and menus.
Conference calls usually involve a lot of numbers: phone numbers, access codes, identification numbers. And finding the right numbers when you need them can be tricky. Enter Bridg.me, a new service that lets the conference call you instead. Call participants set up an account and link it to their Google Calendar accounts, then create a calendar event. When the call's scheduled time arrives, Bridg.me calls each participant.
The company offers a free trial 10-minute call for up to three people, after which the service costs 5 cents per minute-$1.50 for a 30-minute call. And the company hopes to eventually offer basic services for free.