I read a lot and am often asked how I do it. There’s no secret to this, and my best advice is to read a chapter a day. But part of my reading strategy is built around my Kindle. As a result, if you would like to be a more focused reader, I’d like to try and persuade you to adopt digitally reading as well.
Let me begin by addressing what I suspect will be the initial response from many of my readers. “But I love real books!” You may love the smell, the feel of them in your hands, or any other tangible aspect of reading in this way. I get it. But try a little thought experiment with me. Take your favorite argument as to why you love reading a physical book and substitute the word “blankie” instead of “book” in the sentence. For example, “I love the smell of a new blankie [book].” Or, “I feel so relaxed with a blankie [book] in my hands.”
Notice how similar your favorite argument sounds to a toddler. I don’t mean this as an insult, but rather to highlight what I find to be a humorous area of overlap from our childhoods. Hopefully, it shows these are not necessarily good reasons to avoid reading digitally. Without further ado, here are the seven reasons why I use a Kindle to read the majority of my books digitally.
- Highlighting. I don’t borrow books from people because I highlight and mark them aggressively. Because of my job, I’m regularly going back through books I’ve read for illustrations and quotes. Amazon has a dedicated page for all of your digital quotes that are organized automatically for you (see: Kindle Highlights). If I vaguely remember something from a book but can’t remember where it is, I just type a search word for it, and I’ve found it in no time. Also, I’ve recently discovered another website that is a complete game-changer. It takes all of your digital quotes and randomly emails a number of them to you each day. This exponentially helps with retention and often brings up your favorite ideas from years ago precisely in the moments when you now need them (see: Readwise).
- Dictionary. I’m often reading books to challenge myself. This almost always means they use big words I don’t understand. I can count on one hand the times I’ve pulled out a dictionary or went to my computer to figure out what a word meant that I just read. With an eReader, all I do is hold my figure over a word and I can instantly see the definition of it without interrupting my reading flow. This has been incredibly valuable.
- The one-minute phenomenon. This one has to be experienced personally to understand it. Even with prime shipping, I have to wait a few days to start reading whatever I was excited about days ago. Now, I find a book I’m excited to read and precisely one minute later I’m into chapter one. It makes a person giddy (at least it does for me).
- Traveling. It always turned into a planning game whenever I was leaving town. I’d have to analyze how much time I thought I’d have for reading and then take the right amount of books. Of course, you don’t want to pack too many books as they take up space and can quickly add weight to your bag. One vacation I had to buy at least two other books because I guessed wrong. Now, I take one very light device and can guarantee I’ll have enough to read and with none of the weight or guesswork.
- Reading speed. This one is going to sound weird to analog readers, but reading a digital copy somehow makes you read faster. I’m not sure why this is, but I have personally noticed it and have heard from other Kindle owners that have found the same thing to be true. The Kindle screens are easy on your eyes in any light and you can quickly get into a reading groove.
- Free books. I’m a lover of old, classic literature. With an eReader, you can get a ton of these books for absolutely free. (Some of the free ones I’ve downloaded are Divine Comedy, The Scarlet Letter, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare).
- Go green. Maybe it’s because I live all around trees in Portland now, but I like not having for trees to be used for my books. I still have to use energy to power my Kindle, but it seems less demanding. Especially if I solar powered my Kindle…
I have a couple of notable exceptions to this general rule of mine. First, I read an analog Bible for my daily study (I enjoy this version). Part of the reason for this is my preferred reading plan involves five bookmarks throughout the Bible (see: Bible Reading Plan). The second exception is a book I’ve recently decided to read one hundred times in my life (see: Prophetic Imagination). For books that I will reread to this level, I want to be able to mark up in more subtle ways and to visibly see where I’ve been in the past with the text. But for everything else, if there’s a Kindle version available, that’s what I’m buying.
I prefer Amazon to iBooks since reading is much more of a focus for Amazon and their eReaders are better. Since I read often, I use the latest Kindle Oasis reader even though I also have an iPad. Kindles are more comfortable to hold, easier on the eyes, and won’t distract you with other features.