Tips for Developing Emotional Intelligence with Ebooks

eggsYour pleasure reading may be helping you develop marketable skills, without you even realizing that this transformation is happening. That’s because there may be a correlation between reading of fiction, emotional development, and overall insight into human emotions. These skills that make one a better leader, boss, employee, and customer service agent – and more adept at navigating our globally-interconnected social world.

The Value of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence or is a major buzzword in the business community these days, as well as in social media and academia. Companies are emphasizing the emotional IQ of candidates they hire or consider for promotion, for example, because unlike other measures of intelligence, emotional IQ is all about how well you relate to others. Those who have a high emotional intelligence, for instance, are better team players, leaders, negotiators, mentors, and may even be better friends.  They have keen insight into what makes people tick, and can use this skill to help solve people problems, resolve conflicts, anticipate the needs of others, or bring diverse groups of people together in an inclusive, collaborative way. It’s no wonder that those who have a developed emotional IQ are in huge demand. One of the main reasons that Fortune 500 companies high executive leadership coaches, for instance, is to have them focus on developing the “soft skills” – those that demand higher Emotional Intelligence – in those who have leadership responsibilities.

Our Emotional Connection to Fiction

There is also research that reveals a potential link between reading novels and raising one’s emotional IQ. Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology a the University of Toronto, conducted some that has just recently been published. He recommends works of fiction – but especially those that are more character-driven than based on plot. His research suggests that fiction books with complex and interesting characters do more than just entertain us. They also give us a deeper understanding of human nature, raise our emotional IQ, and help us develop valuable qualities such as empathy. Natalie Phillips, a professor who teaches English at Michigan State University, said that the new data from Professor Oatley’s study supports the same kind of data that her own laboratory tests of readers have revealed.

Can Fictional Characters Help Us Develop Character?

Some scholars say that novels are an exceptional vehicle for learning how to make moral and ethical decisions, too, and that they can be a way to practice or exercise these skills. That’s because as we read a work of fiction with highly developed characters, we tend to feel connected to them and we imagine how we would react or behave if we faced the same situations that they do. Some academics have compared it to using a flight simulator to practice how it feels to fly a real jet. But in this case, the novel is the simulator, and it is letting you practice relating to others while making smart choices when faced with complex situations.

Vicarious Learning

Readers also get to observe the impact of choices that characters make. In Romeo and Juliet, for example, Shakespeare presents circumstances that many typical teenagers face. But because of limited information and some hasty decisions based on hunches or what they believed had happened – even if the reality was quite different – Romeo and Juliet’s experience becomes one of the world’s great romantic tragedies. There are also novels like The Great Gatsby where priorities involving whether to pursue meaningful relationships or material ambition come into play. Meanwhile in less serious novels, like those by the award-winning crime writer Elmore Leonard, readers learn that as the saying goes, crime does not pay – even if reading about it does pay off in huge ways in terms of giving readers a roller-coaster ride of entertaining thrills, healthy humor, and surprising twists of fate. The people in the novel can be role models or we can learn from their mistakes to avoid the same pitfalls.

Reading Stimulates Internal Growth

Book characters undergo experiences that researchers say can be internalized by readers, in order to support our everyday cognition or emotional growth. People who first read fiction and then are tested for empathy, for instance, scored higher than those who were tested without first reading. They also showed both physical and neurological changes. Brain scans, for example, showed increased electrical activity in the region of the brain that corresponds with emotion – because the reader was having a genuine emotional response to the fiction they were reading. Other studies have shown that reading strengthens neurological connectivity and encourages the development of synaptic pathways – so that reading may actually have a direct correlation to processing more complex, higher-level thoughts.

While more research needs to be done, and deserves to be funded, the big question that these fascinating research projects raises is one that readers ask themselves all the time. Which eBook should you download and read next? Browse the vast inventory of multilingual fiction titles – and audio books – as well as the nonfiction offerings on and see what kinds of intriguing novels you can find to boost your Emotional Intelligence and your overall knowledge.

When Water and E-readers Don’t Mix: An overview of the Kobo Aura H2O

kobo-aura-h2o-smallHere we are in the peak days of summer, when excursions to lakes, pools, rivers, and beaches are a great way to find relief from the heat and just have more fun. Nothing adds to the pleasure like a good book to read, either, and e-books are the handiest and most portable way to go. But that presents a potentially serious dilemma. How do you pack along your high-tech e-reader device without the risk of ruining it if it gets splashed on or you accidentally drop it into the water? Fortunately there is one e-reader that was designed and engineered from the ground-up to meet this challenge. The Kobo Aura H20 is touted as a water-resistant e-reader, plus it has lots of other outstanding features that make it a real contender in today’s e-reader marketplace.

Key Features: Pros & Cons

There is a large non-glare touch screen that is almost 7-inches wide, which many users prefer to the typical Kindle screen which only stretches to about six inches. The lighting is excellent, and the e-ink quality is superb. The ComfortLight features lets you adjust the lighting, and the backlit screen is high-resolution and works beautifully in all sorts of different lighting conditions.

  • The Kobo Aura H2O supports virtually all of e-book formats, including EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RFT, CBZ, and CBR. There are also built-in features for highlighting text and taking notes as you read, bookmarking pages, selecting your preferred font, doing searches, consulting a dictionary, and more.
  • You can sort library of books in the ways that most other e-readers allow, such as with the most recently read shown first, and when you go back and start reading a book again it will open up on the last page you read. You can also bookmark a page by tapping the upper right hand corner of the screen.
  • The downside that most reviewers cite with the Aura H20 – besides its rather steep price tag – is that since it is not an official Amazon product you cannot directly download as many books as easily. Amazon has a vast, ever-expanding library – whereas Kobo’s inventory is not quite that large.

The Aura H20 also doesn’t run as fast as some other high-quality e-readers, and it can take longer to complete downloads from the Kobo bookstore.  If you need an e-reader that also doubles as a fast web browser, the Kobo product may not be the best choice. Those who are going to use it exclusively as an e-book reader will probably be quite satisfied with it, and when you aren’t using its Wi-Fi the battery lasts a long while.

Is it Worth the Price?

The Aura H20 sells for almost $200 new, which is about the same price for the Kindle Voyager – a sleek, top-of-the-line Kindle with extraordinary features and 3G network connectivity. The newest Kindle, the Oasis – which boasts 10 LED lights for unequaled aesthetics and ease of viewing/reading – costs about $100 more than the Aura H20. Meanwhile a variety of other popular, highly ranked e-readers including Fire and Paperwhite models can be purchased for much less money.

So what distinguishes the Aura H20 enough to warrant paying so much for a less sophisticated and not quite as powerful e-reader device? The big selling feature is its water resistance. Of course if buying a water-resistant e-reader is not in your budget, you can always buy a water-resistant protective cover for your device. There are even some that offer nearly waterproof protection, although the do tend to be rather bulky. The Aura H20, on the other hand, is a sleek design and there have even been reviewers who did tests involving putting the Aura H20 completely underwater for a short while. Apparently it emerged still functioning as normal, which is really impressive.

If you like to read at the beach, while boating on the lake, while relaxing on an inflatable raft in the swimming pool, or while taking a long soak in the bathtub – then the Aura H20 may be your dream-come-true.

5 Great E-Books from Globe-Trotting Travel Experts

travel-695573_960_720Super-compatible travel companions can be hard to find, but when you connect with one it makes your travel experiences so much more rewarding and memorable. One of the best travel companions – and one that every reader will get along with just great – is an e-reader. In fact, unlike most travel companions, e-readers become more fun and more compatible the more time you spend with them. But what will you load onto your e-reader, to add that extra-special dimension to your road trip, voyage, backpacking trek, or whirlwind tour of destinations you’ve always dreamed of visiting? Here are 5 wonderful resources to take this summer’s travel, or any excursion you might have planned for now or in the future, to a whole new level of enjoyment.

Rick Steves Italy 2016

If you don’t yet know Rick Steves from his fabulously informative programs on PBS Television, you’re in for a treat. He is an easy-going and highly knowledgeable travel journalist who creates very popular videos and DVDs of his travels – loaded with insider tips, history, and recommendations of what to do and see.

From the beaches to the Alps, from fine art to fine pasta, Italy has it all. Steves traces Italian culture from Rome and Florence to Milan and Venice. Discover the villages of Tuscany and Umbria and the laid-back vibe of Cinque Terre. Shop at local market stalls, sip a cappuccino at an outdoor café, and visit local wineries and museums. Get t more from your visit with Rick’s candid, humorous advice for getting the most value from hotels and restaurants.

The travel guide e-book Rick Steves Italy is just one example, so if you have other destinations in mind, just browse around for his other e-books. He has too many to list, to all of the most well-known travel hotspots as well as to more off-the-beaten-trail places he’s discovered and is enthusiastic to share.

Lonely Planet London

Lonely Planet is kind of an ironic name, because the publisher of travel guides makes sure that you never feel alone – even when traveling thousands of miles from home. The guide to London tells you what to see and what to avoid, and includes the following valuable features – all in Kindle e-book format.

  • Full-color maps and pictures.
  • Highlights and itineraries.
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local.
  • Essential info like hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, and prices.
  • Honest reviews for eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, shopping, and nightlife.
  • Cultural insights covering history, literature, and the arts.
  • Tips and info that cover the West End, the City, the South Bank, Kensington & Hyde Park, the East End and more.

The Lonely Planet London e-book even includes downloadable PDF and offline maps to help you save money on data and roaming fees, and there are many embedded links to related websites where you can get other information. But if London is not your cup of English tea, just check out the many other Lonely Planet guides available as e-books.

Fodor’s Paris 2016

Fodor’s is another world-class travel guide publisher, and their full-color Kindle edition guide to Paris is one of the best. Here is an excerpt from the marketing description:

“Paris is an all-time top destination for travelers, and it’s easy to see the allure: the experiences – dining, shopping, museum-going, neighborhood strolling – are all legendary. This stunning full-color Fodor’s guide captures the best of the City of Light, from the masterful cuisine to the sweeping romance of the Eiffel Tower.

You’ll enjoy more than 450 pages of travel guidance, and as is the case with some of the other books this blog covers, if this one isn’t about your desired destination just check out all the other Fodor’s travel e-books. They are all extraordinary, and available from Amazon and other convenient retailers.

Inside USA’s Best Trips: 7 Amazing Road Trips

Whether you are from the United States or not, Lonely Planet’s Inside USA’s Best Trips: 7 Amazing Road Trips is a content-rich book that guides you all over the USA like a local, to all of the amazing sites and destinations. The format of the book aids in making it so uniquely resourceful, because what you will find here was curated from seven other Best USA Trips books published by Lonely Planets. What you get here are the highlights, making it a kind of “best of” book that includes the top travel recommendations to create a once-in-a-lifetime road trip across America.

Here is what this great sampler covers:

  • Michigan’s Gold Coast (From USA’s Best Trips)Caribbean-blue lake vistas, surfing beaches, dunes, wineries, orchards, Dutch kitsch, French colonial outposts
  • Zion & Bryce National Parks (From Southwest USA’s Best Trips) Crimson monoliths, slot canyons, river walks, pioneer ruins, Old West kitsch, artisan galleries.
  • Hudson Valley (From New York & the Mid-Atlantic’s Best Trips). Breathtaking nature just beyond Manhattan, forested parks, historical sites, lavish Gilded Age mansions
  • Florida’s Highway 1 (From Florida & the South’s Best Trips) Fascinating history, dazzling white beaches, swamps and wildlife, colorful art-deco streets, Latin flavor.
  • Pacific Coast Highways (From California’s Best Trips) Iconic beaches, stunning cliffs, redwood forests, seafood shacks, prime sunset-watching spots.
  • Highway 101 Oregon Coast (From Pacific Northwest’s Best Trips). Quaint seaside towns, colorful tide pools, lighthouses, exhilarating ocean views.
  • Coastal New England (From New England’s Best Trips) Fishing villages, historic mansions perched at ocean’s edge, whale-watching, maritime museums.
  • Also, check out Lonely Planet’s European Best Trips guides to Italy, France, and Ireland and our Europe’s Best Trips: 3 Amazing Road Trips – for more road trip inspiration.

    How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

    For many years author Matt Kepnes, nicknamed “Nomadic Matt” has helped travelers budget their excursions through this New York Times best-seller. His motto is “No money? No problem!” and he has personal experience traveling around the world on a shoestring budget. According to Kepnes, the trick is to live the way the locals do – which is also a proven formula for delving deeper into a new place and culture to derive more meaningfulness and connection with new people in the places you visit.

    “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day” reveals Nomadic Matt’s tips, tricks, and secrets to comfortable budget travel based on his experience traveling the world without giving up yummy meals and cozy, safe accommodations. His advice covers everything from managing your money and avoiding bank fees to earning more frequent flier points and taking advantage of discount pricing at hostels and for tours and transportation. You can download the book at the Amazon Kindle store.

    Save Money for Travel While Reading for Free

    Don’t forget that you can also load up your e-reader, laptop, tablet, iPad, or other device with hundreds or thousands of great titles, popular novels, timeless classics, and even audio books – without paying a penny. Just browse the genres on, keeping in mind that the books are available in numerous languages. That allows you to have access to a personal reading library as you travel, and lets you practice learning a new language, which is one of the most important skills to help you derive more pleasure from traveling.

5 Ways E-Books Can Enhance Summertime Fun

holiday-on-beach-in-summerSummer is such a good time to dive into a book that there are whole genres devoted to “summer reading” or “beach books.” To get the most from your reading – and your summer – consider these five ways to combine summer fun with reading, using cutting-edge e-book technology to make it all happen.

Surround Yourself with Experts

Take professionals with you as you exercise or work. You can instantly download books, magazine articles, journal articles, and other handy resources and DIY guides. But you don’t have to organize which ones to take with you and lug them around with you. When you go up the ladder, down in the basement, out to the gym or running trail, or to the base of the next mountain you want to climb everything in your library can accompany you on your e-reader device. There will be no more need for holding the pages down when the wind blows, as you study a diagram that explains how to tie the perfect sailor’s knot to secure your boat. Just bring that page up on your e-reader with both hands free to work with the rope.

Live and Learn

Mind the academic gap while enjoying time away from school. Getting away from classrooms and into the real world is an important element of education, because it allows you to start applying your learning, your critical thinking skills, and your knowledge in ways that are practical. Whether you’re in your first year of med school or in first grade, summertime is a great opportunity to read more, keep your brain sharp, and also catch up on pleasure reading that will open your mind and stimulate your imagination. Textbooks and even little children’s books can be cumbersome and create clutter, though, so just carry all that powerful knowledge in the palm of your hand in the form of an e-reader. You can even put an entire library of 1,000 titles on a USB stick that is about the size of a stick of lip balm, by taking advantage of the groundbreaking “Stick Library” innovation from that makes it not just possible but also amazingly affordable.

Leverage Your Life

Grill easier, play safer, and travel lighter. Instead of ruining your recipe book by spilling barbeque sauce all over it while balancing it near flames on your outdoor grill that could set it ablaze, just take your e-reader, in a reliable protective cover that can be wiped clean, out to the deck or patio where you’re going to cook. Then use the e-book features to adjust the font automatically so that it is large enough to read from a safe distance and you’re good to go.

Before you pack for that trip overseas, lighten the load by putting all your reading material and those foreign language phrase books on your e-reader. Are you in charge of watching the kids at the swimming pool, or are you wondering what to do if you are bitten by a snake, need to fend off a shark, or need to find directions with a compass or by using the stars? There is an e-book or e-magazine article out there that can solve any of these challenges, so download a first aid e-book or a training manual on water safety; a guide to poisonous plants like sumac and poison ivy; or read up on ways to survive in the wild. Then conveniently take all of that info with you, without adding any bulk or unwanted weight to slow you down.

Diversify Your Assets

The best, most marketable asset you have is yourself, so while you are relaxing this summer why not improve your skills, learn a new way to earn, or even start a writing career? Armed with e-books you can do all of that while lying on the beach – and many of your most creative ideas will come to you while you are in that more relaxed and rejuvenated state of mind. If you want to start an online enterprise, there are tons of books that will help you learn to be a successful entrepreneur. Do you need to study for a GED, SAT, or professional licensing exam? Use electronic study guides to make it easier. Are you brimming with stories? The woman who became a billionaire author by writing Harry Potter books used to scribble pages on the bus while commuting to work. You can write from anywhere and then submit your electronic manuscripts instantly – to sites including – to instantly connect with readers all over the world.

Green Your Wallet and the World

Everyone gains a keener appreciation for the great outdoors during the summertime, and they also tend to become a whole lot more aware of the value of having some savings to pay for things like vacations. E-books can teach you ways to plan a budget, set aside for retirement, manage tuition, figure out ways to pay off student loans, and tips for securing loans for a boat, rental income property, or small business selling tee shirts and suntan lotion on the boardwalk. You name it, e-books can make it happen – and e-books and e-readers don’t require cutting down trees. They run on very little electricity, and you can even power an e-reader with alternative sources like solar energy. Save money while helping save the planet, just by doing more of what you love – namely, reading in the summertime.

Tips for Parents Wanting an E-Reader for Kids

kid-ipadSummertime, when school is out, is a fantastic opportunity to get more absorbed in reading, both for fun and to exercise those mental muscles that lead to academic success. One of the best ways to encourage summertime reading is to make it cooler, more fun, and more convenient – and that’s why lots of conscientious parents are now busy shopping for an e-reader to give their out-of-school for summer kids.

The Value of Summer Reading

Especially during the summer months, it is critical that school children continue to read. Otherwise, as multiple research studies confirm, students can stagnate in their reading speed and comprehension. Their hard-earned vocabulary from the previous school year can fade away, and they may also miss out on the opportunity to acquire new, higher-level vocabulary. Worse still, young readers whose reading activity slacks off during the summertime can actually backslide and wind up with weaker reading skills by the end of the summer.

Reading Strengthens Young Minds and Kid Confidence

That’s just when they need to have the strongest possible reading and vocabulary capabilities in order to hit the ground running when the new school year begins. Lose that momentum while away from school and it can set you back significantly, both in terms of your academic performance and in terms of self-confidence. A student who stumbles at the start of the semester can easily lose enthusiasm for learning and the ability to keep up with other classmates whose reading-intensive summer weeks enabled them to accelerate to the front of the class.

Kindle for Kids

Parents who are shopping for an e-reader to keep their children engaged in reading have some help from Amazon and the PTA. Amazon’s Kindle department and the National PTA have entered a partnership to promote child literacy, and Amazon also offers a very cool purchase bundle designed just for kids. For about $99 you can buy a “Kindle for Kids Bundle” that includes the latest Kindle plus 2-years of Square Trade Accident Protection. To safeguard children, FreeTime blocks access to browsing and purchasing in the Kindle store, access to the Internet, and access to Wikipedia, and also disables social sharing.

Kindle for Kids includes no sponsored screensavers, which helps clear it of distractions; a kid-friendly protective cover worth $20; and a feature that lets parents set reading goals and then track their progress. Kids can view their reading progress for each book, track reading accomplishments for each day, and earn achievement badges for reaching milestones. You can stimulate vocabulary with programs that offer hints for understanding more advanced words and let you use digital flashcards. The Kindle is lighter than a paperback book, and holds thousands of titles. Also, more than 11,000 libraries in the United States offer Public Library Books for Kindle through their websites.

Convert an Old Tablet to a Kid’s E-Reader

Another option is to give a child a tablet that can be used as an e-reader. If you have a tablet-style computer, you may want to hand it down to your child or just save some money by buying a pre-owned tablet that will serve as your kid’s e-reader. Just make sure that before you give your child any computer gadget that has been used, you clear it of old files that may not be age appropriate. You can reset a tablet to its original factory settings, and that will usually wipe clean the internal hard drive and remove any apps installed on it. Go to the “Settings” menu on the device and look for the option to “Reset.”

Although each tablet will have its own set of tools and configurations, that will usually do the trick. When in doubt, have a computer techie perform that task for you. If you are purchasing reconditioned or used tablets or e-readers from a third party, consider buying from a reputable business versus an individual – and insist that the business professionally clear off old unnecessary files, to make it “kid-friendly,” while leaving intact the basic operating system and other fundamentals – before finalizing the purchase.

Get a Kid-Grade Protective Case

When buying power tools, do-it-yourselfers look for those that are labeled “contractor grade.” Likewise, before you invest your hard-earned money for an electronic gadget for your child, make sure you also line-up a “kid-grade” case that can handle all the bumps, drops, spills, and other challenges that active children put their items through on a daily basis. Of course you won’t find products labeled “kid-proof,” but the idea is to shop around for a case that can handle the task of keeping up with your kid. That typically calls for water resistance and enough rubberized buffering to handle jolts, which also adding some transparent protection to keep the screen from being cracked or irreversibly smudged or stained.

Parental Controls for Tablets

If you use a Kindle Fire or iPad, those have built-in parental controls, so before passing the device along to your child you can activate the controls. There are also apps you buy for various tablet platforms, and you can shop for those in app stores. Just select those from reputable, major app stores, to ensure that they are reliable and free from risks like spyware or computer bugs. You can also find child-friendly web browsers in the Apple app store or at Google Play.