Summer Sizzles!

Wow, it�s been a great summer so far! This week the BRAIN_blog celebrates the season of heat with the power of suggestion! That�s right, we�ve got suggestions galore including some choice music picks, exciting summer reading and an update on the �have Palm books will travel� project! Feel the sizzle!

1) Music that fits your style
Summer is such a great time for tunes � driving up to the cottage tunes, hanging out on the deck or patio tunes, lying by the pool tunes�ok, you get the idea. If you�re finding that the same old same old just isn�t working for you anymore, take a look at a couple of websites that can help you mix it up, while not moving you too far from your comfort level � unless of course you want some extreme comfort level adjusting. Intrigued? Read on�

Liveplasma is a nifty site that lets you find and compare bands and artists (and movies and directors as well!) by basing new choices on what you already listen to/watch. For example, say you�re a big fan of the Rolling Stones. You�re a little tired of that worn copy of Beggar�s Banquet, but you�re not sure where to look to find music that�s maybe a similar style, yet different. Or maybe you�ve got a 14-year old nephew who�s into Green Day big time, and you want to give him something for his birthday that�s different yet still cool, something you think he�ll really like � and you�ll seem like the coolest aunt/uncle in the world! Head to liveplasma.com, type the name of the band in the search box, and almost instantly you�ll be given a �map� with your band in the centre, and bands/artists that you might like at different points around the screen. The closer in proximity the name of the other band is to your original band, the more chances you�ll enjoy their music as well. So what comes up when you search the Rolling Stones? Well, with the Stones at the epicentre, they are surrounded by Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. And as for our Green Day lad, liveplasma suggests Offspring and Blink 182 as the closest matches, with The Flaming Lips and Weezer a little further out. Now of course, there is no guarantee that you�re going to absolutely love the suggested bands, but it�s an interesting place to start. Of course you can drill down even further by clicking on one of the suggested bands and see where that takes you too! Liveplasma also includes a discography of the bands and artists in the database, so once you�ve got your suggestions, you can take a look at where to begin listening. Music-Map is another music matching site that works the same way. Enter the name of a band and Music-Map jumps into action to give you some suggestions as to what else you might like. Continue along by clicking on any of the surrounding bands, to find more matches and get more suggestions. I like to use both Music-Map and liveplasma together just to be sure I don�t miss anything! Give either or both a try � but do allow for plenty of time � I find it kind of addictive � so much music, so little time!

2) Sassy Summer Reading Lists
Last time the BRAIN_blog brought you some reading material, it was all e-based (more on that in a bit!) This time, we�re browsing the more traditional shelves to bring you some great summer reading lists. Take a walk through any bookstore this summer and the choices are endless. But where do you begin? Displays can help, but having taken several walks through several different bookstores, I�m finding that no matter where you go (and, loyal BRAIN_blog readers, feel free to correct me on this) a lot of the displays display the same books � so if you want to think beyond Harry Potter, to go further than the Da Vinci Code, and basically try to avoid the various pink-bound incarnations of �Chick Lit� (why ARE they pink anyway?!?) it can be a bit of a struggle. So, with a nod to some of the titles that might get lost in the shuffle, the BRAIN_blog brings you three stellar summer reading book lists that will definitely help broaden your horizons!

NPR Summer Reading 2005
Actually more like several reading lists, NPR offers some great summer reading picks from their staff and listeners. There are also lists and suggestions from independent booksellers, and book reviewers offer their choices as well. Definitely not your average book list, the NPR summer reading site has a bit of everything � from cookbooks and memoirs and collections of poetry and essays, to kids� picks and much more, the NPR summer reading also includes excerpts from many of the selections reviewed, and even some of the recipes from the cookbooks � yum! You can also access the lists and suggestions from previous years in case you�ve missed anything relevant in the last year or so!

UC Berkeley Summer Reading List
This just in from the �what a fantastic idea!� department! Each summer, UC Berkeley sends a reading list out to new students with specific direction that it is not actually a �must read before they can come to school in the fall� list, nor is it a list of textbooks they will be required to purchase, but rather a list of interesting books that they might want to consider adding to their own summer reading pile. Every year has a specific theme � 2005 is �Great Discoveries, Voyages and Adventures!� and UC Berkeley faculty, staff and students are asked to provide a pick for the list. Links to previous themed summer reading lists are also accessible from the site. A great concept, and we get to benefit too!

Guardian Unlimited � Summer Reading
Lastly on our tour of summer reading lists, is this one from Guardian Unlimited, a UK newspaper. Some great recommendations from authors, Guardian contributors and readers, musicians and people on the street! �Essential Summer Reading 2005� has an enormous variety of books for you to consider, and there are also books and audiobooks for kids � the latter especially perfect for squirmy kids on long car rides.

3) So manybooks � so littletime!
Ah, glad you asked. The project is going pretty well, thanks! To date, e-L has downloaded and read two (count �em!) two ebooks from the great manybooks site! First, Anthem by Ayn Rand � I like Ayn Rand, and I always enjoy her books. (although one often thinks ought we really to �enjoy� Rand�s books? But that�s a whole other kettle of blogging…) Next I settled in with P.G. Wodehouse�s My Man Jeeves � loads and loads of LOL funniness. So there you have it � two VERY different types of books, both making the transition from print to Palm successfully � for me anyway! The screen is a little smallish, but I really had no trouble reading (maybe the new glasses are working after all!) So what�s next for e-L and her Palm? We�re not too sure, but as we are headed to the cottage for the weekend and there is a whole category on manybooks.net dedicated to �Pulp�, that might be a good place to start…

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