Reading devices

I used to love paper books! I fondly recall a copy of The Lord of The Rings that I read and re-read multiple times. I enjoyed collecting books from my favourite authors (such as Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett), and proudly displayed them on my bookshelves.

I don’t like to read paper books anymore. They’re usually heavy, awkward to hold, and end up hurting my wrists (already damaged by programming-induced RSI) if I try reading them for long.

About collecting and “proudly displaying” them… let’s be honest: no one cares. Caring about what other people will think when they see your bookshelf is a recipe for bad incentives: you’ll end up reading books you think you should, or just purchasing (without really reading) books that convey you in what you think is a more favourable light.

sigh šŸ™„

Like I wrote before, now I only care if a book is:

  1. Enjoyable
  2. Useful

Reading paper books is not enjoyable for me (because of the reasons I already mentioned), and displaying them is not useful; this is why I sold or gave away all my paper books and comics.

After a lot of experimentation over the years (hell, I began trying to read digital books on a Palm TX 10+ years ago) I reached my ideal state, and now I use a Kindle and a laptop to read books.

The Kindle’s single purpose is to read fiction. I only read fiction there on purpose: I know that when I sit or lay down with my Kindle, I’m gonna relax and enjoy something without thinking about the usefulness or writing down notes.

This is the same reason I don’t play games on my computer or my phone, by the way: I like having separate devices for separate purposes. When I want to play games, I want to sit on the couch and relax, just playing. I don’t want notifications or unrelated subjects to pop up.

So, I read fiction exclusively on the Kindle. I do read a lot of non-fiction though, and I do that on my laptop, using Kindle Cloud Reader on the browser. A laptop might sound like an awkward device to read, but it has some advantages over something like a Kindle:

  1. It’s faster to move around, skim, skip chapters, go back, etc. I don’t necessarily finish non-fiction books or read them in order anymore: I focus on learning something useful.
  2. It favours active writing: I can write notes as I read, jot down ideas, research something, get information from other sources in order to understand (or confirm) something, and more. If I don’t write about or apply what I’m reading I’ll forget everything about it in a week or less.
  3. It’s more awkward to read laying down, which favours a more active mood and also provides an incentive for a shorter reading session. Shorter sessions are important for me when reading non-fiction books because it makes it more likely for me to write down and apply concepts, and also to properly “digest” what I’m reading.

I find that having different devices really help setting up different “moods” and habits related to reading; for example, I noticed a big improvement in retention and “usefulness” when I stopped reading non-fiction books lying down, and focused on applying instead of finishing.

Anyway, this is what works for me! Hope you find it useful.

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