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
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.
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.
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)