A feature I had on the site about a year ago was the Now Reading plugin which gave me an easy way to use WordPress to manage the books I was interested in, a way to log my thoughts on the books as I read them, and a neat archive of the books I’d read. In a site redesign (I don’t remember which one), I dropped the plugin, and stopped updating the content.
Last night I downloaded the newest version of the plugin and got back up to speed. I love it. Here’s what I’m now able to do:
- Keep an easy log of books I intend to read; as people recommend books, I can add them.
- Expose what I’m currently reading in the sidebar of my blog (linked to Amazon, where I’ll get a small referral fee if anyone buys a copy)
- Keep a library of books I’ve read (and plan to read)
- Link each book’s page to any blog entries mentioning the book (see the page for Daemon to see how this works)
I’ve been reading a lot more lately, and I haven’t done a good job of sharing my thoughts on books that I know friends would enjoy. (Daemon is the notable exception. Read it if you haven’t. Now!) I think this will help me be a little more diligent about it in the future.
Some implementation notes:
- I recently switched themes (my inability to stick with a theme – this one lasted barely three months – is surely a sign of something. Let’s not dwell on that, shall we?) and the one I’m using (Blogging Pro) is widget-ready. Enabling the “Now Reading” widget in the sidebar was as simple as dragging it to the sidebar in the Sidebar Widgets editor.
- I needed to tweak the default library.php and single.php templates, as they were causing funky formatting with the existing theme. Rather than try to deconstruct the CSS of the Now Reading templates, I just took the relevant Now Reading code and inserted that into a copy of the Blogging Pro template page, and all was well.
- I need to clean up the started/finished date and timestamps on existing books; that’s not quite ready so the default library presentation is a bit funky with some of the specific data.
All in all, Now Reading is a powerful extension to WordPress (it has its own API, which means other plugins can extend its functionality) and one that will ensure I’ll post book-related content a bit more regularly.