A few years ago I managed to pick up my reading habit again. As a teenager I read constantly. Somehow I lost that during the early twen years. Probably due to me reading a lot on the screen already. For the past years I’ve tried different reading practices and ways to approach books and it basically boils down to these:
- I used to fanatically finish a book, even though I did not enjoy reading it. Nowadays if I really don’t get the hang of a book, I ditch it. There are just too many good books to be read.
- Audiobooks used to seem like “cheating” to me. I actually listen to a lot of books these days. Either while driving, riding the bike or cooking. Whenever I have a spot that needs some more thorough work and thinking, I place a bookmark. Most of the books that I listen to as an audiobook I do have in paper or as ebook as well. During my focus sessions in the morning (see morning routine) I work myself through those marked spots.
- I don’t use any summary services or summary books. I do believe that key elements of a book are subject to the judgement of the indiviual reader, which is why I don’t use such services or tl;dr PDFs.
- There are better or worse times for certain books. For the most parts I read non-fiction in the morning or sometime during the day. As part of my good-night routine I always read some fiction, since I want to use that time to “shutdown my brain” and if I read stuff that gets me thinking again this is either counter-productive or I’m too tired to comprehend it anyways.
- I have a backlog of books that I want to read and I’m actively curating it. I use goodreads for that. Whenever I talk to people about books, I ask for recommendations. Funny side note: If people have on their CVs that they like to read, I actually ask them in the interview which book they’d recommend to me, if they could only recommend one.
- Reading has become a daily habit and I do set myself a certain reading goal per week and make sure that I include proper reading time when planning my week on sundays. For books and papers I also plan on sunday what I’ll read in the upcoming week. I consider reading to be part of my professional work.
- Instead of scrolling through social media again and again, I just go to my pocket app and read one of the blogposts or article I saved for reading later.
I really prefer paper books over any electronic version. However most of the time I stick to electronic versions for couple reasons: I usually read several books in parallel and when I travel, I enjoy to travel lightweight. For non-fiction I like to search through books and be able to hightlight and annotate, while also being able to search the notes.
Some notes on my reading tooling:
- For IT-related books I use the O’Reilly reading service (formerly known as “Safari Books Online”). I’ve had an account there since 2004 ;)
- For electronic books I try to order ePub/PDF from the authors or directly at the publisher. If that is not an option, I revert to getting it through the apple eBook store.
- Paperbooks I order through a local bookstore.
- For RSS-Feeds I use newsblur.
- As a “read later”-list, I use pocket.
- For audiobooks I currently use audible.
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