From the Couch of Ben Johnson

Father, Principal Engineer at Prodigy Education, serial hyperbolist.

The Highlights

A few years ago my wife bought me a Kindle for my birthday, and I converted all my reading to the Kindle. I love the e-ink screen. But the feature that I’ve grown to rely on is the highlighting.

I’ve never really been a highlight-while-reading person. In university it always shocked me to see people tarnishing the pages of their incredibly expensive textbooks with brilliant yellow highlights. But, of course, highlights made on a Kindle are digital and sync their way up into the Amazon cloud. The highlights are downloadable, storable, and are a great starting place for notes.

To this, I’ve added Readwise, a service that takes highlights to the next level. It collects highlights from the Kindle, API, and other sources. Every day, it sends an email with random highlights for spaced repetition. And it provides search, API access, and exporting of highlights and notes.

Beyond the Kindle, Readwise can also import highlights from services like Twitter and Instapaper. This means that all my highlights are in one place, my reading contributes to them, and the email digests help me make new connections by surfacing them.

This setup helps me feel like my reading is active. My ADD doesn’t get as distracted, and I’ve been finishing way more books than before. It’s a nice feeling contributing to a corpus that drives my future ability to recall what I have read.