Kristian Glass - Do I Smell Burning?

Mostly technical things

How I Read

I love reading. When I was younger this was a bit of a problem - my parents had to move my dad’s Stephen King horror books because I’d start reading them as soon as I’d grown tall enough to reach the shelf - or the time I asked “mummy what’s a murder” because I would read old newspapers left around for recycling.

But I’ve found so much joy through reading - and even though today for various reasons I don’t read as much as I used to, it’s still one of the best ways for me to pick up information.

I read quickly (e.g. Lord of the Rings in about a week at around 10 years old). This is almost certainly a huge factor in my enjoyment. I don’t know how exactly I do this or where learned this; I think I taught myself at a fairly young age. But an indirect benefit, other than the obvious speed itself, is that it makes it very low cost to try out a book/series - it doesn’t take me much time or effort to get through enough to decide if I want to continue!


When it comes to books, I want Kindle for fiction, paper for non-fiction.

I consume fiction linearly. My Kindle is great for reading linearly. (Books like The Silmarillion, where I need to constantly flick back and forth to the character list to understand who someone is and which of their twelve names they might be using, do not spark joy)

My Kindle lets me carry a whole bunch of books for very little space and very little weight. The battery life is great, and the next book is just a download away - no need to try to decide if it’s worth lugging an additional paperback around in case I finish the one I’m on.

Non-fiction, I want a more interactive experience. I want to bookmark pages to quickly flick to, I want to flip between sections, I want to highlight, annotate, and more. These are all possible with the Kindle, but far easier with actual paper.

Audiobooks don’t work for me at all. They sound like a wonderful experience for so many other people, I’m a little jealous, but they’re not for me. I probably have some mild auditory processing challenges that are a factor here. (But people who look down on audiobooks with the claim “you’ve not really read the book” can get in the sea with their gatekeeping)

Articles, blog posts etc., usually on my phone or desktop. I was a happy Google Reader customer until they killed it, now I’m a happy Feedbin customer. That said, I hit feed burnout a few years ago and haven’t quite gotten over it, so mostly I get links from friends and newsletters and social media.

I’m continually frustrated with the modern trend of sharing things only through video. I appreciate there’s lots of incentives for people to do so - improved reach, harder to copy, popularity etc. - but personally I hate it. Fortunately, it seems like AI is getting to the point where it’s cheap and easy for me to make a transcript and just read that. Unfortunately sometimes that isn’t enough, and while I completely understand e.g. Minecraft builders using video to share details of their creations, gosh I wish they’d publish more schematics…!


My favourite time and place to read has been while travelling.

As a child, holidays would often involve a fair amount of time in the back of a car. As an only child, books were an excellent source of entertainment, and unlike my GameBoy, they wouldn’t run out of battery!

As an adult commuting into London or flying to Germany for work, the silver lining was the fantastic chunk of time for reading.

But between the pandemic causing me to travel a lot less, and parenthood meaning I’m often driving when I do, I’m reading substantially less.


I’m not advocating for anything here - this is what works for me, you do you.

But if you want me to take information onboard, the best way is to write it down!