Do you remember what secret weapon the characters in the movie The Sandlot used to finally get the Babe Ruth autographed baseball back from the monster dog across the fence? It wasn’t constructing a ramp and remote control car out of an erector set and it wasn’t strapping a harness on Yeah-Yeah and lowering him down from a tree.
It was Benny the Jet strapping on the “shoes guaranteed to make a kid run faster and jump higher– P.F. Flyers.”
These shoes had a magical aura to them.
Moviegoers knew something was about to change after strapping on these amazing shoes, and ultimately something did change– Benny was able to hop the fence, retrieve the ball, and outrun the monster dog that craved preadolescent blood (or so everyone thought).
Do you ever wish you had P.F. Flyers for reading? Something you could power on that would guarantee you read faster with greater retention–and be a helpful resource for the future? It turns out there is such a device (actually several).
Below are the two devices I use to optimize my reading and outrun the monster dog of never-reading-as-much-as-I-want.
1. The Kindle App for iPhone/iPad and VoiceOver for iOS
The Kindle app (which you can download for free) allows me to always carry dozens of books with me and can actually read to me with the VoiceOver feature. Sometimes if I’d like to read but would rather not have to hold a book or my phone in front of my face, I pull up a book, activate the Voiceover feature, and let the book do the work. I prefer this over audiobooks because I can stop listening to read closer and make highlights. The Voiceover feature works in many languages too–just change your phone’s settings to the language you want, pull up a book in that language, and listen away!
Below is a short video on activating the VoiceOver feature that will virtually turn your Kindle books into audiobooks. Don’t let the video intimidate you–it’s a lot easier than it seems (see here for more instructions for iBooks or Kindle).
In addition to the Kindle app on the iPhone, listening to audiobooks at double speed has helped tremendously as well.
2. Kindle Touch
This is my favorite device to read on for a couple of reasons:
- Less distractions. When I debated over buying a Kindle Fire and the Kindle Touch a couple of years ago, the major selling point for me was that this device couldn’t do social media, email, video, and internet (I don’t count what they call an “experimental browser” as internet). Less distractions = more reading.
- The Text-to-Speech Feature. This Kindle comes with a built-in Text-to-Speech option which functions like the iPhone’s VoiceOver feature. I do most of my reading on the Kindle using this feature at home, while working out, and while in the car.
Unfortunately Amazon doesn’t make Kindles anymore with this feature (presumably because they want to make more money selling audio books–they own Audible). The good news is that you can still pick up a used or refurbished Kindle Touch on Amazon or eBay for a decent price.
These two devices have revolutionized my reading in a number of ways:
- Listening to books makes me able to read in a number of settings I never could before, which means I can read a book in a day or two when before it would take me a week to carve out sufficient time.
- Using highlights and notes in the book help reviewing what I’ve read stick and prove to be helpful as I reference them in the future for things I write. All of my highlights on Kindle books are stored on my Kindle.Amazon.com account which I can access from anywhere. I highlight physical books too–but it’s more convenient to have an entire library of books and highlights a pocket’s reach away.
I don’t always use these devices to read and there are still some types of reading that I need to have a physical book in front of me (reading and meditating on the Bible and scholarly works or reference materials). Also, I have trained my mind not to wander while listening to books, something that can take time, but is completely worth it.
With reading, as with everything else in life, it is wise to remember our ultimate task and give God the final word:
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
You’ve heard my two secret weapons that help me read with greater speed and higher retention.
What do you use?
- 5 Reasons Why I Read Multiple Books at the Same Time
- 12 Things I Learned about Reading Books from Tony Reinke