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EGD News #141 — How I get the most out of books

EGD News #141 — How I get the most out of books

Sent on July 1st, 2022.

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I read over 60 books last year. I’ve already read some 32 books this year, and we are in the middle of June. I love to learn new things and apply the learnings from those books to my work.

Here’s how I get the most out of the books I read. You can watch the video below or read the piece below it.


I usually read books on the Kindle. It’s so easy to buy a book on Amazon and then have it instantly delivered to my Kindle.

But that’s not the only benefit. As I’m reading books on my Kindle, I tend to highlight interesting phrases or paragraphs that I feel are worth saving for later processing.

What I do is I swipe the area, which I then add as a highlight. I also try to add a note for each highlight so that I can remember the context of what I might have been thinking here as I included the highlight. It helps to give more reasoning why this highlight was important.

Readwise to Roam Research

My daily exports from Readwise, inside Roam Research.

I have two tools for capturing and processing my book highlights. I use Readwise to transfer the highlights from Kindle.com’s highlights page, which then moves them to Roam Research.

Both are premium tools, but I would say that they are definitely worth the price, as everything has become relatively automated.

You see, Readwise is hooked up to my Roam Research, and when I enter Roam Research, I can see all the new highlights that have been synced into Roam during the night. I read a book last night and added these highlights, and now they are in my Roam Research.

Literature Notes

My literature note on Shackleton

To process my notes for future use, I’ve adopted a system called the Zettlekasten method. There are pieces on the internet and many videos on Youtube about the Zettlekasten method, so I won’t go into too much detail on the system.

To keep it short, the Zettlekasten method consists of two kinds of documents:

Once I’ve started accumulating highlights from a book, I create a Literature Note where I distill the notes down to the essential ones. I also try to develop new thoughts based on the highlights.

These thoughts I store as Permanent Notes.

Permanent Notes

A permanent note based on reading The Pathless Path

Based on the new things that I’ve learned from the book, I create Permanent Notes. These should be thoughts that came from reading the book. I don’t care if I’m copying verbatim what the book said, as long as I can distill a new insight or actionable thought.

In Roam Research, I label Literature Notes with the Red book in front, and I give the name of the Literature note to be the name of the original piece.

The Permanent Notes I label with a green book in front, then give a four-digit numbering, where the first number represents the category, the second number the sub category, the third a topic, and the fourth is a unique ID number for the topic. I then add the thought to the name of the permanent note.

This is the system I use. Here are some links that might come in handy:

(Photo by Perfecto Capucine)