My reading process

I read a lot. I didn’t until just a few years ago but I do now. An unexplainable shift of mind happened in my head in 2012. I have no idea where it came from but I wrote about it before. I take reading so seriously now that I designed a systematic process for it.

Reading Books

First of all, I keep a to-read list on Whenever I encounter a book that I find interesting, I add it to this list (more than 400 items at the moment). Besides reading I also like to plan. I use Trello for all my planning. I split every year into quarters—periods of three months. Then I write down all the books that I want to read in the upcoming period and create a checklist. With a goal of 40 books per year that’s 10 books per quarter.

Then comes the actual reading of the book. I always keep a pencil with me—when reading a book in physical form—to make notes. Simple underlining and marking with an exclamation mark does the trick. I never write actual notes. I may, sometimes, add small page indicator stickers to the page where I make a note. This way I can come back to it in just a few seconds. I tend to do that only with technical and detailed books. Especially the ones I know I’ll be coming back to in the future.

Reading Articles

There’s so much content on the web. It’s hard to keep up with it and even daunting at times. I’m signed up to a few newsletters, some weekly, some daily. That’s where I find most of the content that I want to read online. I want reliable, high-quality content. So far, curated newsletters were the only ones that met my criteria. I tend to open a link from Twitter every now and then but I always take those with a pinch of salt.

Anyway, whatever I find interesting goes to my to-read list. This one I keep at Instapaper. I never read these articles right after finding them. They always go to this list and I read them when I have time. Unlike for books, I don’t have a designated time for reading articles. It takes me 5–10 minutes to read most of them so they’re great for quick reads during snack time or something similar. I archive all the articles I read so the to-read list stays clean (kinda makes me feel good to have an almost empty to-read list).

Weekly Reading Review

I used to write book reviews. A short recap with a simple goal. Go through the book again and review my own notes and underlinings. I learned much more from a book this way than just reading it once. I would then publish these reviews on my website. The process was too long and because of that it failed its purpose. So I decided to keep doing that but keep these notes private. This way I can keep them quick and dirty but just enough so I can get back to them later.

I now do this in my “weekly reading review”—whenever I actually have time to have one. I sit down, take a look at the book and articles that I read that week. I focus on my notes and write a short recap. The recap is not even made of actual sentences. Bullet lists mostly. But it’s enough for me to be able to get back and just enough so what I read actually sticks in my mind.

I found this systematic process of reading to work well for me. Am I taking it too far? Do you have a similar approach to reading? Share your thoughts with me.

Matej Latin

I’m a self-taught designer proving that you don’t need a design degree to make a career in design. I went from doing boring graphic design work to working for big tech companies as a Product Designer. I thrive in the grey area between design and web development and I wrote a book about web typography for designers and web developers.

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