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4 Different Ways to Read a Book

The knowledge of the world is compromised in millions of books. You have the chance to read books written by the best entrepreneurs, researchers, and spiritualists of the world. You can read and learn from the best of the best.

Now when it comes to reading there are different ways how you can consume the content. The traditional way to read is the hardcover book. But it is not the only way to consume a book. During the last years, reading became more digitally. You can now read electronic books on your smartphone or a Kindle device. If you prefer listening to reading you might listen to audiobooks with services like Audible. And if you don’t find any time for reading books there are services like Blinkist and GetAbstract who summarize the world’s business and non-fiction books for you.

The Way I am Reading

I have and use them all. I own a Kindle to read electronic books and magazines. Every month I buy and read at least one physical book. In addition, I have an Audible subscription. This gives me one audio book per months for around 10 Euro. I also have a one-year subscription of Blinkist. Blinkist is a company from Berlin which summarizes non-fiction books for you. All books are usually summarized in 10 minutes and you have the chance to read them on your phone or Kindle and most book summaries on Blinkist are even narrated. And as a part of my XING membership, I receive every Friday one book summary from GetAbstract. GetAbstract is another company which provides you with a high quality book, talk, and report summaries. I tried nearly all services and ways to read and consume books and with this article I want to share my thoughts with you.

Blinkist is a company from Berlin which summarizes non-fiction books for you. All books are usually summarized in 10 minutes and you have the chance to read them on your phone or Kindle and most book summaries on Blinkist are even narrated. And as a part of my XING membership, I receive every Friday one book summary from GetAbstract. GetAbstract is another company which provides you with a high-quality book, talk, and report summaries.

I tried nearly all services and ways to read and consume books and with this article I want to share my thoughts with you.

What is the best format for you?

As you can see, there are many formats of books. Physical books, electronic books, audio books, and book summaries will help you to learn from the world’s best minds. Now there is the question which format is the best for you, let’s get into it.

Physical Books

Physical Book

I love physical books. If you ask me there is no better way to observe knowledge than by reading a good book. I love to read physical books. When I read a physical book I always have a highlighter with me. If the situation allows it, I also write down the most important points of the book into my notebook or a piece of paper. I think that physical books are the best and most effective way to learn. A physical book can be folded, you can highlight text passages, scribble down your own thoughts, and most importantly: you can always come back and review your notes. There is a good reason why I buy a physical copy of a book when I really enjoyed the audible version of it.

Electronic Books

Electronic Book

Another, more convenient way to read books is the electronic way. Why is it more convenient? In my opinion eReaders like the Kindle from Amazon have the following advantages over a physical book:

  1. Super Light and easy to transport: If you travel a lot, a Kindle will be your best travel mate. The Kindle is lightweight and it comes with a large enough storage. It is way lighter and thinner than a usual book. Perfect for traveling!
  2. You can read during the night: With the Kindle and many other eReaders you can easily read during midnight without the need for a light. Nearly all eReaders come with a background light. This ensures that you can read all your books independently of daylight or book lamps.
  3. You have 100+ books in one: Thanks to the relatively large storage on eReaders you can easily carry your whole reading list with you. My Kindle Paperwhite currently stores more than 100 books. For those 100 books, I would otherwise need an additional books shelf. And think about traveling with 100 books, pretty impossible.
  4. You can buy books instantaneously: I love spending time in the bookstore like Barnes & Nobles and Thalia. If I make a step into a bookstore or a library it is very likely that I will stay there for a couple of hours. Still, I order most of my books. When you are reading with a Kindle you don’t even need to await the delivery of your next book. One click and your book are ready to read. This is great and I don’t want to miss it.
  5. Look up or translate words immediately: When reading scientific or technical books it might happen that you need to look up certain words and terms. This is very time consuming when reading a physical book. When reading with a Kindle you can simply tap on a word and you will get the definition or translation immediately. The Kindle will also save all words you looked up so you can use the Kindle as a vocabulary trainer.

The only bad thing about eBooks is that you don’t experience the real feeling of a book. Electronic books are like any other internet article for our brains as they are digital. A study showed that we observe less information when reading on a Reader. Let’s stay with real physical books when we want to obtain all information in it.

Audiobooks

I love listening to audiobooks. In the last two years, I developed the habit of listening to audiobooks every time I drive. I think this was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I would recommend it to everyone. I am listening to audiobooks while driving, in the gym, or when traveling.

While audiobooks are great we need to distinguish between different types of books:

(a) Books you usually need a pen and a paper for These are books which contain a lot of detailed information and learning-by-doing exercises.

(b) Books which are a narration Examples for this kind of books are biographies, fiction books, and general business books.

I can tell you with my own experience that audiobooks only make sense if you don’t need a highlighter, pen, and paper for it. Make sure that your audiobook will not need you to take action or write things down immediately. I listened to a few audiobooks which said: “And now press pause and write down a,b, and c.”. Well, a pretty bad idea when I am driving with 160 km/h on the Autobahn. I think that biographies or motivational and inspiring business books are books to listen to. Books that need your full attention and all of your brainpower are not suited as audiobooks.

My latest examples for unsuited audiobooks would be:

  1. And The Weak Suffer What they Must by Yanis Varoufakis: While the listening experience was great I realized that I forgot most facts within an hour. Now I have the paperback version on my bookshelf.

Book Summaries

Blinkist and GetAbstract are two great services which I personally use. They provide you with qualitative book summaries of non-fiction and business books. Blinkist summaries usually take 10 minutes to read to listen to while the summaries on GetAbstract are sometimes slightly more detailed.

Most importantly: Book summaries will never ever provide you all the knowledge of a book. I would always advise you to read the complete book.

So what are book summaries good for?

I use book summaries for two reasons:

  1. You get an on-point summary of books you would otherwise not read. This is probably the main reason why I use these services. There are many books out there which I don’t want to read in its entireness. I think that reading the main points of a book with services like Blinkist or GetAbstract is a great balance between reading a not so compelling book completely and not reading it at all.
  2. It is a great way to discover new books. I don’t see Blinkist as a replacement for reading books. It happens every now and then that when I read a book summary I end up ordering the entire book afterward. Some book summaries surprise you with so many great insights that you will end up reading the entire book. I think book summaries are a great way to build an interesting reading list.

4 Way of Reading a Book

  • Physical books are the non-plus-ultra and the best way to obtain and learn new knowledge.
  • Electronic books might be a better and cheaper alternative for you, especially if you are traveling a lot.
  • Audiobooks are an essential part of my daily commutes.
  • Reading or listening to book summaries is better than not reading the book at all.

I hope these were some helpful insights for you. What is your favorite way to read books & what is your favorite book right now? Comment below and I will join the discussion!

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