Alex Chiri's Blog

Resurface highlights from books and articles you've read in the past


In the last years, I've been reading a fair amount of books. Besides that, I've been wanting to read more interesting articles and blogs, which is why I started using Pocket for almost a year now. At the same time, I've kept trying all kind of routines that would make me remember more from what I read. In the next paragraphs, I'm going to describe what I am currently doing and although it is not perfect, it feels the best so far, considering I don't have much time to invest in revisiting these reads. I don't see this as a replacement for active learning, for which I reserve time, but more of a complementary practice for interesting things I want to remember.

Kindle means digital highlights. But how often do you revisit them?

Reading books on Kindle makes it very simple to make highlights and notes while reading and all these highlights are synced to your Amazon account and from there, you can export to all kind of services.

My main frustration with the highlights is that I almost never revisit them, I accumulate them over time and they're soon forgotten. The Kindle app has support to create flashcards from highlights, but it is extremely basic and clunky. This is where comes in.

Readwise will sync all your Kindle highlights regularly with its platform and gives you daily digests of highlights through email or (mobile) website, using some sort of spaced repetition algorithms.

You can configure how often you should receive an email, if ever and if you want to use features like Active Recall where some words are hidden in the highlight to make you think about the context of the text and try to guess the missing words and this way improve retention.

Nice, but what about articles?

It would be rather neat to be able to use Readwise on the articles you read also. Well, it turns out you can. If you use Pocket to save the articles you want to read, all you need to do is forward your articles to your Kindle, using a service like Pocket2Kindle, highlight your articles on your Kindle device and then import the highlights from your Kindle device directly into Readwise. This is a manual step that you would have to do every once in a while, but I think it is worth it, simply because you would have all highlights in one place.

As a bonus, you can manually add highlights into Readwise or you can sync your Goodreads account with it and it will start showing popular highlights from the books you read in the past, but had no highlights for them in your Kindle account.

What I like about this flow is that it requires very little effort and that I get to gather all the interesting pieces of information I stumble upon into one platform that is resurfacing them periodically. While it is a considerable improvement over not reviewing these highlights ever again, I feel there’s still something missing to make these stick and be internalised for long-term storage. I suspect it has something to do with the little amount of time and effort spent in learning them, which would be required to allow them to be integrated into our memory and make long-lasting connections to the existing bits of information in our brain.