Yes, even for the stereotypical, luddite litterateur: “There’s an app for that.” Now that we are well into the age of eBooks and word processing, app developers are continually creating new methods to facilitate reading, writing and literary analysis, in addition to general literary geekery.
Feast your eyes upon these carefully selected seven best literary apps, extensions, and sites:
1) First Line
How would you like to be greeted with the first line from a classic work of literature each time you open a new tab? Trick question… who wouldn’t! First Line is a Chrome extension that provides the first line from a randomly selected work of literature each time a new tab is opened. Prepare to waste hours of your day as you repeatedly open hundreds of tabs simply for the joy of reliving the first lines of your favorite works of literature such as:
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
One Hundred Years of Solitude
— Gabriel García Márquez
At a loss for what to read next? Whichbook is designed to deliver personalized book recommendations based on your requests. Whichbook allows you to tailor your requests in the categories of character, plot, or setting OR to use four of their twelve sliding scales to characterize the type of work you’re looking for. Here I exclusively offer my own never-fail recipe: somewhat unpredictable, fairly demanding and bleak, and very long. Fair warning to literary snobs (i.e. me): Whichbook seems to be more heavily skewed towards contemporary pieces than classic works of literature.
3) Literary Analysis Guide
This Mac and Android app is a Lit major’s dream come true. The Literary Analysis Guide is akin to a pocket version of the Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. In fact, the four interactive wheels may make the app better than the Bedford—though the fact that it is approximately 50lbs. lighter than the Bedford may help, too. The wheels display elements of literature and provide a definition of the term, literary examples, a variety of questions, and even a sample analytic essay paragraph. Simple, eye-catching and interactive, the app is a comprehensive source of information for any student.
Scrivener is an excellent organizational tool for any budding longform writer. This Windows and Mac app provides a central location for writers to compile ideas and research, to make notes and outlines and to write. The all-in-one premise provides one easy to navigate venue for all aspects of the writing process, reducing the risk of losing notes or writing progress when the process is spread across multiple platforms or programs.
5) Ulysses III
Similar to Scrivener, Ulysses III promises to simplify Scrivener’s process. The Mac app provides a variety of organizational and analytic features, but recognizes users’ individual preferences by allowing you to hide any unwanted features. The app’s writing, organizational, and analytic features are equally as useful for blogging as for writing the Next Great American Novel.
Great writing must needs come with dedicated editing and revision. Hemingway, a web-based app now with offline desktop version, takes inspiration from its namesake by facilitating “bold and clear” writing. Simply insert your writing and the app will highlight—literally, color-coded highlights—readability issues such as convoluted or run-on sentences, passive voice, and overuse of adverbs. For those who like to give their own writing a thorough going over before passing it on to an editor or peer, Hemingway facilitates self-editing far beyond the usual basic spelling and grammar check.
7) Marked 2
Marked 2 is an extremely helpful Mac app for writers. Similar to Hemingway, Marked 2 can help writers visualize the weaknesses in their writing. Although the app provides multiple tools and statistics, one of the most helpful features—for writers of any age or experience—is “Visualize Word Repetition.” The feature highlights repeated words within the document, helping the writer recognize over-reliance on particular words or phrases.
Of course, these apps are merely the tip of the iceberg. If one of the apps on this list peaks your interest but doesn’t quite meet your needs, chances are there are a handful of similar apps that may be better equipped to meet your needs!