124: Reading and Learning


Toward the end of this episode when discussing taking notes from YouTube videos David mentioned he puts in a timestamp and the note.

David…are you automating getting the timestamp (and if so, how)?

I really enjoy the things that Readwise shows me every few days. I’m happy to be a paying subscriber.

I’m a recent convert to learning via YouTube. It’s usually pretty informal (not taking notes), and sparked by other media (podcasts, film, books). I’m becoming more of a believer in doing some reading every day, usually before bed. It’s frequently just a handful of pages - but it nourishes me and moves the needle for books that I want to delve into.


Along with @MacSparky, I’m a huge fan of reading books from a Kindle or iPad with the Apple Books app. Along with all the reasons David gave, here are some other factors to consider:

  1. As I age I find that I need stronger, brighter light in order to read a physical book without eye strain. I find myself wanting to read in a lot of circumstances where that’s just not available or would be a hassle to create. That is a total non-issue for reading on a mobile device. I can read anywhere, at any time, in any light. It also allows one to read. with no lights on, like when my wife is in bed reading while I’m sleeping. Young bucks like @mikeschmitz might not have the issue of finding sufficient lighting now, but someday you will!

  2. Another age-related benefit of reading from devices is that I can easily make the font size any size I find comfortable for reading. Just can’t do that with a physical book without using another device as well, like a magnifying glass.

  3. I find that most books I buy for Kindle or Apple Books cost considerably less in digital form as opposed to paper, often 50%-75% less. I consider that a huge advantage in consuming books.


David - curious how you are importing from Readwise to Obsidian. I saw recently there is a new plug-in that does this - or or you just exporting all the Readwise highlights from a book to a page in Obisidian?

Thanks for all the great content. Focused podcast in particular has really helped me up my game over the past year.

  • Klaus
1 Like

Loved this episode, as a major consumer of both physical and kindle format books I prefer kindle when I can get them. Sadly a lot of books I want are not available on kindle. We have a library ladder to get to all the bookcases in our house. Pretty much every room in our house has one or more built-in bookcases. I just finished a complete catalog of our physical books as we were running out of space. I had a bunch I was willing to get rid of and ended up culling out over 27 linear feet of books. I kept over 2000 physical books and am starting the process of cataloging all the kindle books. Currently I have over 1000 of them in my catalog. I am using BookPedia for the book catalog. I am considering whether to add some of the books into Zotero for use as references.

My biggest issue with annotations on kindle books is that there is no way to easily save or extract highlights and notes taken on books that were not purchased from Amazon. ReadWise can’t do it. The Obsidian Kindle highlights plug-in can’t do it and you can’t export them as text or markdown from within the book either. I can’t even get the mail as HTML to work and the only other option is to create flashcards! If I email my notebook and try to open the HTML file that I get sent I Safari can’t open the page and I get an error that the operation can’t be completed.

I’ve got hundreds of books in kindle format that I read in the Kindle app on my iPad that I did not get from Amazon. I’ve tried using the send to kindle feature to use Amazon to put the book files onto my iPad thinking if it came in via Amazon their built in tools might work but sadly not. Most of the solutions people talk about for non-Amazon books involve moving the clippings file onto the computer and parsing that. Fine if you are using kindle hardware but if the clippings file exists on the iPad it is well hidden as I cannot find it at all.

I would LOVE a solution to that problem.


@klauster I was manually copying and pasting but am now using the plugin. :slight_smile:

I have a question about your comment that you fully trust Obsidian Sync’s E2E encryption (assuming you create your own password on their site)

Does that mean you will put legal documents and personal data into Obsidian and sync to the mobile app without any concerns?

Just wanted to clarify what i thought I heard. :slightly_smiling_face:

There is no official integration yet (in the same way that there is for Roam or Notion) - although I’ve heard that “they’re working on it.”

In the meantime though, what I’ve been doing is exporting my highlights as Markdown (having adapted the output template a little) and then just copied those files into the relevant Obsidian folder.

It’s a pretty easy and straight forward process and something you can automate further using something like Hazel. As such, you can push updated highlights into Obsidian in a minute or so.

EDIT: In fact, ignore all of that :grinning: I’ve just found this Python script on Github which should do the job for you and without the need for you to manually download your Markdown every time.

I haven’t actually tried it out yeah, but I will do!

Cool. Just heard you talk about the plug-in more on latest episode so will try it!