Skip to content

Level Up Your Reading Habit

Practical Resources to Help You "Read" More - Faster, and with Greater Efficiency

Whit Rasmussen
Whit Rasmussen
5 min read
Level Up Your Reading Habit

Happy hump day! Before we dive in, I want to thank everyone who provided feedback on our first Sunday Brunch ☕️ newsletter. The responses were all very positive so we'll keep it rolling this week and into the future. With that said, if you happened to hate Sunday Brunch, but held back your criticism, please do let me know. My aim is to be useful and your feedback is instrumental to achieve that goal.

Circling back to Sunday Brunch ☕️ for a second... One of the recommended articles comes from Shane Parrish of Farnam Street - "Reading Better."

Reading has changed my life. I'm not talking about reading in the school sense - highlighting, memorizing, regurgitating, and repeating. No, I'm talking about voluntary reading. Reading to explore personal initiatives. Reading to stack skills. Reading to refine intellect and expand worldviews. Reading in exchange for small pockets of free time.

Reading is incredibly useful.

In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time - none, zero. - Charlie Munger

But... reading also requires time. A LOT of time.

And time is valuable. Extremely valuable...

Time is not something most people have loads of. Try to think of some. In the past week, how many people did you encounter who complained about how much free time they have? Feel free to keep track with your fingers so you don't lose count.

Done?

My guess is you're either flashing a peace sign, flipping the bird, or have yet to extend a single finger and are instead shaking a fist in the air wishing you could be one of those people. The point is, most people do not have excess free time.

For the remainder of our time together in this article, I'll assume you don't either.

So... where do we go from here?

You like learning. You want to progress in your career, or maybe you want to venture out and try something new. You do a little googling and find some great resources - books, articles, papers. The reviews are high, feedback is encouraging, and Amazon prime will deliver directly to your door in two days or less. So you place the order, wait a few minutes, your doorbell rings, and voilà - your book has arrived! You grab a hot cup of coffee, open to page 1, take a slow savory sip of joe, and dive in.

5 minutes pass and your phone starts to light up. You just catch a glimpse from the corner of your eye, but you're COMMITTED. You shrug it off and refocus on the task at hand. The caffeine is starting to kick in and you can feel the knowledge flowing through your brain. *BZZZZZ* your eyes dart back to your phone. After 20 minutes of this back-and-forth cat and mouse game, the restraint is unbearable and you give in. You furiously swipe through a few notifications and responding to a handful of messages. All is well in the world. Except, you've completely forgotten about your lonely book.

As crazy as this might sound - 20 minutes is very good for a first sit down, assuming you're not a regular reader. Reading, like everything else, takes practice and persistence because it is a skill.

BUT, as I said earlier, I'm going to assume you do not have excess free time to commit to this trial and error process. You need to learn now.

Well, I want to share a few resources with you - they provide many of the same benefits as reading complete books, but in a shortened or expedient format. Sitting down to read a book from start to finish can be daunting. My hope is these resources can kickstart and enhance your reading journey.

⭕ Productivity Game (YouTube)

A recent discovery and an INCREDIBLE resource. Nathan, the creator of Productivity Game, shares bi-weekly videos with accompanying PDFs summarizing popular books in a concise, visual format. Most videos are less than 10 minutes long and cover the major takeaways from each book. Fantastic free resource.

Productivity Game


⭕ Blinkist

In their words - "Read or listen to the key ideas from bestselling non-fiction in 15 minutes." Blinkist is a subscription service that provides short-form (anyone remember Sparknotes?) summaries in both written and audio format for popular non-fiction books and podcasts.

Unfortunately, their service is not free - $7ish per month for an upfront annual subscription, or $15 monthly recurring. Not cheap, but a fantastic tool to kickstart your reading journey and expand your learning with minimal time required.

Blinkist


⭕ Audible

Ultimate flexibility. Reading books generally requires a quiet setting, appropriate lighting, and a comfortable place to sit. If you have headphones or a speaker, you can listen to Audible audiobooks anywhere, anytime. Audiobooks are incredibly accessible and, in some instances, significantly better than their printed counterparts (Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey is a perfect example).

I've been an Audible subscriber for many years and highly recommend their service. Audible is not free - $15 monthly recurring charge. BUT, you can exchange titles as often as you would like. Effectively, you have an infinite library for $15 per month.

Audible


✨ Speechify (Bonus Resource - Articles, Email, & Other)

Speechify is a free Google Chrome plugin & Apple app. Speechify processes text on your screen into a clear, understandable audio output via their "AI-powered listening assistant" (their words). As long as the text is opened in a Google Chrome browser (or iPhone, if you download the app), a play icon will appear next to text with an estimated read time. You simply click the play button and each word will be read to you. Speechify allows you to change the language, accent, and reading speed.

TOTAL GAME CHANGER.

Speechify


💥 PRO TIP

My advice, for what it's worth... would be to listen to books at 1.5x speed. You will never go back to 1.0x speed ever again. Over time, you can accelerate the speed further if you're comfortable. There is an adaptation period, but it is short, trust me. I typically listen to non-fiction at 1.5-2.0x speed and fiction at 2.5x speed.

Jim Kwik (author of Limitless) explains this concept with an interesting analogy. Think about driving a car. If you're moving at 10-15 miles per hour, the windows are down, you're listening to music, observing the scenery around you, and zoning in-and-out of thoughts. Conversely, if you raced down the autobahn highway, you would be completely focused on driving.

Reading and racing are not the same, but I've found Jim's analogy to be true in practice. When listening to books at 2.0x+ speed, I'm much less likely to zone out and miss important points.

Of course, you can also do this for Podcasts and YouTube videos (Recommended).


🤝 Parting Thoughts

It's worth noting, book summaries are great if you are building a reading habit, or if you are crunched for time on a consistent basis. However, I still believe reading (or listening to) books in their full form is worthwhile. Summaries sometimes feel like a bombardment of facts and highlights. Long-form books provide ample space between the margins to formulate your own thoughts, opinions, and ideas as you work your way from start to finish.

Read what you enjoy, explore what interests you, and learn what is beneficial to you.

What book(s) are you planning to read next?


That's it for this issue, everyone. If you made it this far, thank you for your time. I appreciate you tremendously for being a member of our community!  

See you Sunday!

Have a week,

Whit

BooksSkills

Whit Rasmussen

Professional Private Equiteer 📈, Dabbling Photographer 📸 & Writer 📝, Obsessive CrossFitter 🏋️‍♂️, One-Time IRONMAN 🥇, Regular Reader 📚, Perpetual Learner 💡, Habitual Optimist 😎