@universal_traveler Love the digital garden :) Some of your books seem to straddle this world and the virtual world and I'm very curious about those; added to my reading list. How do you take book notes? Do you underline/highlight as you go, or write them in a notepad as you read? Just wanted to understand your process.

@ayushsharma22 thanks for taking a look! My approach depends on my state of mind & reading format. I always start by documenting the Table of Contents. Next, I usually import Kindle highlights and notes, or I type out excerpts from physical books, or Iโ€™ll paraphrase as I go instead of just excerpting. My next step is to continuously take notes reflecting my thoughts about what Iโ€™ve read, finding parallels with other info, & distilling the important info within the context that I found it useful.

@universal_traveler Thanks Sarah. My process is pretty similar I guess. I was also wondering how much time it takes you to read one book? Also, do you partition out dedicated time to read, or is it more whenever the mood strikes? I also have different kinds of books to read, like those related to work and some for relaxation and personal growth. Do you manage times for these separately?

@ayushsharma22 I wish I could say I have a good system in place, but so much of my reading is driven by intuitive decisions because I'm in a million places at once.

I do differentiate between reading to learn & reading for pleasure. I do a lot of the latter, & less of the former unless I'm prepared to maximize it by taking notes.

I'll sometimes read a book straight through in one or two days if I'm fascinated. In other cases, it will take me years if my mind wanders, which it does often ๐Ÿ‘€ what about you?

@universal_traveler I guess you and I are in the same boat :) The distractions are killer, it's hard to just focus on a book when there's so much going on in my head. I find some books, especially Douglas Adams or scifi, have a tendency to hook me enough that I don't wander. Work-related books are much harder, and I find sometimes I've already forgotten what I read in the previous chapter, but just highlighting things and noting in Notion helps sometimes, and blogging is a good way to crystalize thoughts.

@ayushsharma22 Yeah sounds like we have a lot in common, including sci-fi :)

For awhile I used spaced repetition via Anki to retain more of the non-fiction material I read. It was really helpful, but the workflow to turn my book notes into flash cards was too intensive.

Also, I love Notion and use it for almost everything else but my book notes lol. I'm using my digital garden as the place to share thoughts and notes publicly, mainly because I have more control with the presentation than I do in Notion.

@universal_traveler So what are your top 3 scifi books? I mean books you could read forever if you were stuck on an island?

@ayushsharma22 ooh good question, here we go:

1: "Blindsight" by Peter Watts because I've never heard of aliens like these & because of the unique supernatural tie-in

2: "Raft" by Stephen Baxter because it explores the idea of universes with exotic physics

3: "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein,ย mainly because I loved the AI character, not because I care much about libertarianism

Honorable mention is the "Tangents" short story compilation by Greg Bear

What are your top 3 sci-fi stories?

@universal_traveler not much into short-stories, but this is me:

1. Hitchhiker's by Douglas Adams (the omnibus edition. I'm counting all 5 in the trilogy as one book, otherwise I'm not going on the island :D)

2. Time Machine by H.G.Wells. Genre-defining classic for me, and reads like it was written yesterday. It's timeless.

3. Dark Forest by Cixin Liu.
The second one was by favorite.

Short stories by Olivia Butler are amazing. Heinlein and Gibson are on my list, but never quite get the time :)

@ayushsharma22 I only ever got 3 books into the Hitchhiker omnibus, one of my favorite sci-fi characters came from it โ€” Slartibartfast! I love that you love Adamsโ€™ writing that much :)

I havenโ€™t ready #2, #3, or anything by Butler, although the Three-Body Problem Series is on my list, so is Gibson. Heinlein has been all over the place for me. I loved Moon is a Harsh Mistress, thought Starship Troopers was so-so, but couldnโ€™t finish Stranger in a Strange Land, altho I like his short stories too.

@universal_traveler I agree about Adams. I honestly haven't read anything else like that in scifi/fiction. Did you see the movie? Bill Nighy played Slartibartfast!

The moment we started talking about all this, I realized that this is what is so great about scifi, that its one of those genres where you can have romance, humor, mystery, intrigue, and everything else.

You inspired me to clean up my reading list in Notion. I think I have a lot of scifi left to read, and that makes me happy :)


@ayushsharma22 ha I thought Bill Nighy was great, although he wasnโ€™t exactly what Iโ€™d had in mind when I read about Slartibartfast for the first time.

Also you said it so well, sci-fi really is one of those all-encompassing genres! Iโ€™m so glad our discussion inspired you to clean up your own list in Notion! I use Notion a lot too, let me know if you ever want to swap templates or just talk shop!

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@universal_traveler Damn it's like finding a kindred spirit :)

I really could use some advice with Notion. I just started using it and migrated everything off GoodReads. I'm attaching some screenshots, hopefully you can get a general idea from that.

What I have right now is workable but its not very "fun". I guess its designed more so I can add entries quickly to my DB rather than enjoy the experience overall. I wanted to make it more visual in some sense but I don't know where to start.

@ayushsharma22 good question, it's a tough one with Notion. You've done a great job with the organization of your bookshelf. I suggest considering how the visual details could tie it together. I've attached a mockup of one way you could do it.

In Notion my goal is to de-clutter the visual experience when databases are involved. I've attached a screenshot showing my personal workspace too, but here's a live example of how I've tried to overcome that using color and imagery too: notion.so/silvarerum/Intro-to-

@ayushsharma22 neither of the examples I provided use databases necessarily btw, but they're both examples of how I've tried to alleviate some of the visual cognitive load in Notion.

Also, I made the mockup for your bookshelf in Figma. You'd make a template for your book graphics and then update their info for each book. Might be unrealistic depending on number of books in your shelf.

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