My Reading Routine
I used to be a real “tab hoarder.” I would come across thoughtful articles on the internet that were longer in nature and required more time and thought than I could give them in the moment. These were pieces of writing I knew I’d enjoy, so I’d leave the tab open hoping I would find a moment of quiet reading and contemplation, but those moments never came.
I had already established a morning routine of distraction-free reading years ago, but that was for reading books. The last thing I wanted to do was pick up my phone. One of my “rules” for this routine is that I don’t touch my phone or laptop for at least an hour while I read.
However, when I bought an e-ink eReader with Pocket integration a new world opened up. Now when I see an article I want to read on my phone I hit “save to Pocket” and forget about it until I pick up my eReader in the morning where the article will be synced.
If you’re not familiar, e-ink displays are really different. They’re much closer to physical paper and not at all like a phone or laptop screen. eReaders also don’t come with any distractions. It’s almost like printing out all those thoughtful articles, but without killing trees.
The upshot of all this is my online browsing behavior is separate from my “thoughtfully reading longer-form articles” behavior. It’s perfect because, for me, the two have always been incompatible.
I’m not getting paid to endorse these things. I just adore this way of consuming online articles and I wanted to share it.
If this seems interesting to you I go into more detail below.
I use Pocket to track articles I want to read. Nearly every site works fine with it, but some sites aren’t compatible. It’s so rare that Pocket can’t properly parse a certain site that I hardly notice.
Pocket can be installed as a browser extension on desktop and mobile. It’s easy to send an article to Pocket with a couple clicks or taps and then forget about it until I check my eReader later. It’s the same amount of effort as bookmarking something. I like the “low friction.”
When you save an article to Pocket it strips ads1 and reformats the article to a simple “reader” mode that’s just the article, headings, and in some cases images. If you’ve ever used reader mode in your browser it will look very familiar to you.
Pocket is free, but I pay for the pro version to support them. I don’t actually use the pro features.
I use a Kobo eReader which integrates with Pocket, my workflow looks like this:
- Articles I finish are archived. These articles stay in Pocket and you can still find them in your list of archived articles. Archiving also removes it from my Kobo.
- If there is an article I find exceptional I’ll “favorite it“ before I archive it, this makes it easy to scan my article archives later and see the articles that stood out to me.
- If I dislike an article I delete it . When I do this my Kobo deletes it from Pocket so I can pretend the whole thing never happened.
I love e-ink displays. They don’t use light, instead millions of tiny capsules in the screen are physically flipped between their white side and their black side. It’s much closer to paper than it is to a computer screen, it feels more like a physical book. No LEDs burning out my retinas.
I think the current model closest to my own is the Kobo Libra 2, but they have other models. I suspect they all feature Pocket integration. The Kobo readers have a few features that are important to me:
Amazon doesn’t make them. Yes, Kobo/Rakuten is still a corporation, but as you’ll see below the Kobo is far less “locked down” than a Kindle. I think Amazon is awful and I don’t want to support them.
Integration with OverDrive. Chances are your local library supports OverDrive, which is a mechanism for checking out ebooks. With the Kobo you can authenticate with your library and checkout ebooks and read them right on your Kobo. I love libraries, and it’s nice to grab a book from the comfort of my couch.
Integration with Pocket. Vital to the way I read articles. Pocket integration has been listed under the “Beta” section on the Kobo for years. I pray they never remove it.
Warm backlighting. By default there’s no light emitting from an e-ink screen (for me that’s sort of the point) so you can’t read in the dark, but the Kobo lets you turn on a backlight if you need it. On my Kobo I can choose how “warm” the backlight is, the range is from bright white to a deep amber2.
Support for some indie bookstores. My favorite local independent bookstore allows you to search for ebooks on their website and purchase them. Really it’s just a referral system, I’m not sure what cut the bookstore takes when you buy an ebook through them but if you’re not going to buy a paper copy of a book at least your local bookstore can get a percentage of the purchase.
And of course there’s Kobo’s own bookstore. I’ve bought a book or two through it, I have no complaints.
If you’re trying to find the right e-ink eReader for you then pay attention to both screen size and resolution, particularly the resolution. I upgraded to a higher resolution eReader and it made a huge difference.
Ads are annoying but can be an important source of revenue for people, so if I find I frequently enjoy content from a specific site or blog I will subscribe or donate to them if they offer the option.
There’s a reason “night modes” like the Kobo, Apple’s Night Shift, or Flux skew towards red: it’s biology.