Neil’s List: Reading Apps

Neil’s Lists are where I share many of my favorite things that help me live a happier, healthier, smarter, and more productive life. I love reading other people’s recommendations lists and wanted to share my own. This idea of trusted recommendations is also central to the mission behind my startup Labdoor, which provides independent scientific reviews of vitamins and supplements. These lists are like my personal Labdoor for all the other stuff in my life that I use daily.

My Reading System:

I consume hundreds of pages of writing each month, and the only reason why that’s possible is because I read many times each day in small 5-15 minute intervals. Here are the key apps that help me maintain this reading system:

  • Twitter
    • Twitter is my main lens into the world in real-time. It is where I find most of the news and articles that I read each day in Instapaper. iOS makes it easy to save articles from Twitter to Instapaper using its Share action.
    • I have carefully built a list of ~1,500 accounts that are the most interesting people I have found who talk about my areas of interest like business, politics, activism, sports, music, and culture. Here are The People I Follow on Twitter.
  • Instapaper
    • Instapaper makes it easy to save articles and read them later in a distraction-free environment. I love the highlight feature, which lets me save and export my favorite passages using IFTTT.
      I read many more articles than books. Too many books would have been better off as a much shorter article and I don’t have the patience to sit through 200+ pages to learn one idea.
  • Kindle
    • Kindle makes it easy to switch between different books on the go. I can’t read the same thing every day. Some days I want to read an autobiography. Other days I’m craving a science fiction novel. The best way for me to read frequently is to follow my cravings.
    • I use a Kindle Paperwhite for longer reading sessions and the Kindle iOS app during little breaks in my day. I have 50+ books downloaded on my Kindle waiting to be read. It’s part bookshelf, part wish list.
  • Audible
    • The average audiobook is about 10 hours long, so with just a 15-minute commute each way, you can finish one book a month on Audible. The shorter time intervals also improve reading comprehension and help develop a good reading habit.
    • I’ll often switch between formats when reading a book, starting with Audible during my morning and evening commutes, then continuing on my Kindle at night. These apps do a good job of syncing my read location across devices.
  • Blinkist
    • Blinkist boils down the main ideas of books into quick 5-minute summaries.
    • Blinkist is a great way to quickly understand those books that you “should” read, but where you don’t really want or need to spend 10 hours reading the whole book to get to the 1-2 main ideas.
  • Bookcision
    • IFTTT is unable to automatically pull Kindle Highlights to Evernote, so I have to use Bookcision for this action. I like to paste all of my highlights for each book I reach into a new note in Evernote that I can go back and highlight and summarize later.