What’s the real secret to reading a lot of books?
June 22, 2013 | 2:10 pm
By Joanna Cabot
It’s nice to see an article on Lifehacker about reading. But the article’s author, Dan Shipper, struck me as a person who is massively over-thinking it. His strategy for ‘reading a lot of great books’ involved no fewer than three pieces of software, and almost as much time spent on book-keeping as on the reading itself.
• Keeping track of the books you want to read
• Refining the list down to ones you’re going to read in the near feature
• Actually reading them
• Retaining the important parts
He then proceeds to list a variety of software tools he uses at each step of the process to help him overcome these challenges.
But how hard is this stuff, really? Here’s my approach to the same ‘obstacles’:
1. Keeping Track
If I want to read it, I add it to my Amazon wishlist. Periodically, I’ll plug these titles into the search engine at my library and reserve the books if they’re available. If they’re not, they can stay on my wishlist for now.
2. Refining the List
If I plan to read it soon, I load it onto my Kobo. That’s it!
I do have a few longer anthologies and reference works that are currently languishing in my Calibre library. But I have gotten a lot better about only downloading books I actually plan to read (as opposed to just collecting freebies because they’re there). So for the most part, all my soon-to-read books just stay on my Kobo until I get to them.
The one exception to this is poetry or books with daily essays or programs in them. I’m a sucker for these sorts of things. I have one with a spiritual essay for every day of the year, another with a mini yoga plan for every day of the month, and a few large poetry collections. These I keep on my iDevices for reading on the bus or during breaks at work.
This part should be obvious. I do all my pleasure reading electronically (I still use paper for cookbooks). If I want to read, I pick up my device of choice and away I go.
As I said, I do keep a few types of books on my iThings for reading in small chunks here and there. I’ll also curl up on the couch or in bed with my Kobo if I want to do some serious reading. But it’s really no more complex than ‘pick up device and read.’
4. Retaining What I Read
I have never had a problem retaining what I read from fiction. For non-fiction, I use my device’s highlight feature and then copy it into Evernote later. Contrary to Shipper, who has a ‘couple of techniques’ involving a special paper chart which he copies into the computer later…
I’m a firm believer in “do what works for you,” and I’m glad Shipper is enjoying his books. It just sounds like his lists and programs are making an awful lot of unnecessary work for him. I’ve found it much easier to let go of the freebie collecting habit and only download books I actually intend to read. Then I can just load them onto my device of choice, and read away.