How I switched to reading on a Kindle from physical books

Ravi Kurani
6 min readMar 8, 2021

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I had all the excuses to not pick up an Amazon Kindle, including:

The “I need physical books argument”

  • I love the smell of physical books, just like that feeling of being in a library
  • I love actually flipping through the pages of a physical book
  • I need the tactile ability to highlight and make notes in books
  • I just love the feel of a physical book

to… “I don’t have time for reading argument”

  • Who actually has time to read, I draw my connections from real people
  • Nothing beats a beer with a friend, I just don’t have the frame of mind to read
  • Whats the real value in reading anyways, it’s a bunch of stuff that dead people wrote or is fictional

…to, “I’m much more of an auditory learner”

  • I really like listening to podcasts
  • Clubhouse is really my thing, ya know? I just like being a part of these active conversations
  • I like audio books or watching YouTube of knowledge workers

to the “overwhelming amount of things to read argument”

  • Theres so much stuff to read, how do you know whats good?
  • I feel this immense need to finish the book I start, and I have analysis paralysis — of knowing what to actually pick up because I’ll need to finish it… and what if I don’t like it?

Step 1: Get an Amazon Kindle (or any eReader)

I used to think that having a physical book was the only way that I could read, and at times I was using that as an excuse to not read. I needed to bring myself past that barrier to just pick up the book and start reading. I also loved having a ‘bookshelf’, a sort of mini-library I could pick books from to hop into.

The Kindle unlocks this by having the storage capacity of ~1,000 books. Usually when someone will suggest a book to me (if I really value their opinion) — I’ll just pick it up on Amazon and sync it to my Kindle.

Do not get the Kindle with the heavy operating system, just the simple sub-$100 Kindle PaperWhite will do. You don’t want all the bells and whistles, because you want it to mimic the behavior you have with a book. You don’t want it to be another tablet or phone, that’s why you have those. Keep it simple.

Kindle image from Amazon.com

If you really don’t like reading, and you’re truly an auditory learner, just get Audible (or any equivalent audio book reader).

Step 2: Create a forced habit of reading by keeping a Kindle on your pillow.

In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear he talks about the habit cycle: cue, craving, reward, science. In this blog post he goes into the details of the ‘cue’ (the first part of the habit cycle).

The third cue that James talks about is the ‘preceding event’.

This is an event that cascades into a series of habits or patterns. For example (James mentions), when your phone buzzes you check your notifications.

I built a preceding event cue in which I could build reading into my nightly. I very simply just put the Kindle on my pillow when I make my bed in the morning. This forces me to pick it up before I head to bed (i.e. the preceding event).

If you’ve read my post on morning journaling, you may have caught that I leave my phone outside of the bedroom. Having no distractions is super important to making sure that you can build this night time routine, and not focus on Facebook, Instagram, or getting out that last minute e-mail.

When you complete this cue, just make sure to not stress on the ‘outcome’. Your goal is to just open the Kindle, read a page, read a paragraph, read a line (at first). The more times that you do this — the more you’ll build it into a true habit. I initially started setting completely random goals. I need to read for 30 minutes, try to get through one more chapter. Don’t stress about it, call it a success even if you open the Kindle and read a few words.

Step 3: Read whatever the hell you want.

Getting hell bent on what others want you to read, or things that are on some ‘best-of’ or ‘what Jeff Bezos reads’, is nice, but just start with whatever you want to read. I got into reading a genre called magical realism—which basically is written as mostly real stories, but have a bit of magic in them. One of my favorite authors is Haruki Murakami, the top 3 books I’d recommend are:

But again, if you’re not into that- then read whatever you feel like reading. You want to make sure that it’s enjoyable.

Naval Ravikant in the Almanack of Naval Ravikant says,

“I think there is a tendency among parents and teachers to say, “Oh, you should read this, but don’t read that.” … read what you love until you love to read. You almost have to read the stuff you’re reading, because you’re into it. You don’t need any other reason. Theres no mission here to accomplish. Just read because you enjoy it.”

Step 4. You don’t need to finish a book (or even start one)

I feel like there is this innate pressure, that once you start a book — you need to finish it. You don’t, not at all.

Anne-Laure Le Cunff from Ness Labs wrote an amazing post back in October of 2020 on the Antilibrary. BTW — she posts amazing images that she finds from vibrant artists in her Ness Labs e-mail circulation. The below was from an artist, Chris Austin in which she introduced the concept of an antilibrary.

Current mood: embracing the unknown. Artist: Chris Austin.

You don’t need to finish books, honestly — as Anne mentions, you don’t even need to start them. There is an inherent power to the ‘unread books’ as much as read. From author Nassim Taleb in his book The Black Swan, he explains the unique relationship Italian writer Umberto Eco had with books (taken from the Ness Labs post):

“…a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”

Thats it!

Honestly, I really hated reading. I was talking with my buddy and he did too, and reading daily has changed our lives. And in all actuality, reading on the Kindle has changed the way that I consume information.

Once you get into the flow of reading- and remove distractions.

  • 1. It’s super nice because you get to run away to another world that lives in your own head.
  • 2. You get an entire library of books, because the Kindle stores about 1,000 books.
  • 3. The highlighting feature is amazing to give that tactile feel.
  • 4. Begin to create your antilibrary from sources in books that are interesting, or other books that people recommend

An end quote from Naval Ravikant.

I want to leave you with a final quote from Naval Ravikant in The Almanack of Naval Ravikant:

Naval Ravikant. Source: https://www.navalmanack.com/

“Learn to Love to Read. The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated is a superpower. We live in the age of Alexandria, when every book and every piece of knowledge ever written down is a fingertip away. The means of learning are abundant — it’s the desire to learn that is scarce.

Happy reading!

This is day 6 of my #90DayOfProse challenge.

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