How Technology Got Me Back To Reading Books
For the first half of 2016, I’ve been pretty good at keeping with my resolutions for the year, especially with reading more books.
Before that, reading would scare me. Looking at those thick paperback books was overwhelming, and going through one felt like it would take too much of my time.
As I mentioned in my blog about my favorite book quotes for 2015, I started reading more on different websites like Lifehacker and Hubspot. It helped with improving my English, and satisfied my need for continuous learning. My Master degree didn’t give me all the cards to play a role in this fast-paced business environment.
This started my reading habit, and I eventually included reading books later on. This wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for technology.
Here are some reasons why technology reconciled me with reading books.
Keeping up with my reading list
In 2012, I went to a Barnes and Nobles for the first time.
I was finally ready to buy my first book since my high school days, but I was having a hard time finding something interesting. Long before taking my first MMA lesson, I almost bought Brock Lesnar’s biography. After thinking about it for 5 minutes, I thought this wasn’t the best way to start.
I eventually found other books to read. The two following books had such an impact on my life I can’t stop reading non fiction books since then:
- Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You How to Be Rich: 2012 was the year of my first salary raise ever. I could finally try to put some money on the side, but I had no clue where to start. That was until I stumbled upon an article on Lifehacker referring to Ramit’s book. Besides its tacky title, the book sets up some easy-to-use principle that got me started with money management and budget automation.
- Tim Ferriss’ The 4 hour workweek: My friend David from PupWalkr recommended this book which delivers great principles around life automation and productivity. Since then, I’ve been listening to Ferriss’ podcast, which has become the main source of my growing reading list.
My reading list is now so long, I don’t have enough time to read it all. To deal with this challenge, I have a list on my Wunderlist account including both book titles and links to articles like this Medium article by Buffer.
So how do I pick my next book? I often use a random number picker to help me in the process!
Get rid of clutter and back pain thanks to the cloud
As a kid, carrying 22 pounds worth of textbooks everyday to school was such a pain, literally. Studies have shown the negative effects of carrying heavy backpacks. Personally, I was diagnosed with both scoliosis and kyphosis when I was 12, and still have back problems until this day.
Thanks to cloud technology, reading doesn’t have to come to this price anymore.
You can simply start reading on one device, and finish on another. I currently use an iPhone 6 and a MacBook Pro. iBooks keeps everything synced so I don’t have to look for the last page I read on my other device. Removing that extra cognitive process makes it easy to get into what David Kadavy calls The 10-Minute hack.
This is how I get back and forth between my phone and laptop during a typical day:
- In the morning: I use my laptop to read for about 30 minutes. I read faster on it because I don’t have to go through all that scrolling. Sometimes I use the text to speech features to avoid mind-wandering.
- During the day: I read on my phone if I’m in the sauna for 15 minutes, or if I’m in the waiting room for an appointment of any sort. Switching from an iPhone 5, I noticed the iPhone 6 overheats faster so I definitely can’t stay for more than 15 minutes in the sauna.
- In the evening: I read on my laptop or my phone, depending on what time it is.
A lot of kids have similar habits, going back and forth between devices. What if we could move away from paper, clutter, and heavy book bags once and for all? I think we would reduce children’s back issues while utilizing more of their screen time for educational purposes.
Bookmarks and notes for enhanced active reading and recollecting
Has your mom ever told you “read for comprehension”?
With all the web content created everyday, it’s easy to experience information overload. When you’re trying to go read as many articles as possible, it’s easy to experience FOMO.
I’m going through this everyday, fighting my bad habits of consuming more without carefully picking what I’m reading. It’s like eating ten Big Macs a day instead of three healthy meals. Books are my healthy meals. They give me a chance to pause, and dive into a topic to forge my own opinion. That’s why I’m always taking note in order to be an active reader.
My process isn’t as complex as Tim Ferriss’s Alpha-Geek note taking skills, but here is how it goes for me:
While reading a book: I take notes or highlight sections when I see a quote that I like, an example that illustrates a new concept, or a reference I want to check later for deeper exploring (author, movie title, book title). I also highlight and comment on new principles I want to apply to my life.
When finishing a book: Compiling my notes is the most painful part of the process. Even when using iBooks to sync, there’s always some discrepancies between my devices. I often have to go through both my laptop and phone to find all my notes. I then share them via Google Drive or email. This is fairly easy from my iPhone, but it’s very manual on my MacBook because I haven’t found a way to select them all at once. If you know a way, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
In between books: I go through all my notes from books I’ve read. Until now, I’ve compiled everything into one Google Doc, but it’s getting too long to navigate through, even using a table of content. After trying to switch to Evernote, I decided to create separate Google Docs for each book. Since it exists, I’ve tried Evernote three times, but I can’t seem to find the right usage for me yet.
Technology made it very easy for us to access and consume information and get knowledgeable on the topic of your choice.
The downside is the distraction that comes with it. I usually end up putting my phone in airplane mode to fix that issue.
Recently spending a week without a phone had a big impact on the amount of reading I did.
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