Reading is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. While I thoroughly enjoy reading and learning from books, I’ve rarely managed to read more than one book per month. There are few things that are as satisfying as finishing a good book, densely packed with wisdom and knowledge. If you’re an avid reader, you can accumulate the learnings of many lifetimes in a few days.
Motivation was not the reason why I barely read. My problems were:
- Reading takes a lot of time. Especially if a book is long or not very dense, it could take many hours to read about a small set of problems and learnings.
- I had not made room for dedicated reading time in my day. And some books took me time to ‘dive in’. I could not just read 5-10 minutes but had to reserve blocks of 30 minutes and more to really dive in.
- I often wasted a lot of time waiting for a book to get better. But very seldom did a book get better after 200 pages when it did not feel right after the first 20 pages.
I decided to find a way that allowed me to apply the Pareto principle. I found that the two most important game changers are book summaries and speed reading.
Every day I read one book summary. I’m using an app called Instaread that offers a vast catalog of book summaries. A similar and well-known app is Blinkist. I went with Instaread after comparing the two services and finding that they offer almost the same in terms of quality, length and pricing (you can get their lifetime subscription for under 50$).
I’ve since made it a part of my morning routine to read one book summary before I start work. These summaries provide a good way to get the takeaways from a book and give me a good idea of how much I will enjoy reading the full book. For a lot of books, I’ve found that the takeaway notes provided in these summaries are enough to give me a good idea and actionable information from a book.
Instaread provides summaries in both written and audio form which is practical as it allows me to sometimes listen to them while driving. I do grasp a lot more of the content when I read though and mostly stick to reading.
Once I have decided I want to read a book in full, I use an app called ReadMe! to read the ebook. ReadMe! offers two modes – a traditional eBook reader where you read page by page or Spritz. Spritz is a technology for speed reading. By displaying only one word at a time in always the same place, your eye movement is minimal and thus you can often double your reading speed.
Spritz is my favorite way to read as it takes a lot of focus while being relaxing at the same time. I read at almost twice the speed (at about 350 words per minute) than my usual reading speed in a traditional ebook reader.
ReadMe! shows you the total amount of time it will take to finish the chapter and the whole book which is also a neat feature as it allows me to plan my reading time much better. I have a very good idea how far I can make it if I use a two-hour flight to progress in a book.
These two steps have helped me learn from a lot more books than I was previously able to. What tricks do you use when it comes to reading?