Saturday, January 19, 2008

 

Outsource your reading

Want to read more, but just don't have the time? Let someone else read for you!

It's not crazy. There are a number of tools, most online and many for free, where basically someone else does the "heavy lifting" of reading everything, summarizing what's most important and prescient for you.

In just a few minutes, you can read five daily newspapers.

In just four pages, you can read and entire business book.

In a single screen, you can consume a week's worth of a dozen blogs.

Don't believe me?

- Today's Papers: This feature of Slate has been around for years, but is still among my favorites. Every morning, seven days a week, a Slate staffer reads the five top daily newspapers (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times) and then summarizes what those papers consider news for the day. The column is chock full of links to allow you to read full articles if you want. But this feature alone is the single more valuable tool I've found to keep myself abreast of national, political and world news - all in just a couple minutes each morning.

- The Wall Street Journal's Morning Brief email: Available for subscribers only, this morning email (every day except Sunday) gives a real-time, morning-of summary of what's become news since the print edition went to press the night before. Even more interesting is the bottom-half of the email, which summaries (and links to) news stories from a wide, wide variety of other publications. It's a great way to catch up on interesting news from corners of the publishing world I rarely get to personally, and it takes less than a minute to scan each day.

- ExecuBooks: For just over a dollar a week, this service offers an archive of hundreds of popular business books covering a wide range of topics, all summarized down to 3-4 pages. Most good business books are based on a handful of strong ideas, then fill pages of copy with examples, analysis, the author's further opinion, etc. There's on reason why you can't capture that one strong idea in a couple summarized pages, then move on. Each week, ExecuBooks (a feature of a service called aheadSpace) adds another new release to their library. Summaries are available in various formats for easy reading on the go, or print-outs via PDF for your commute.

- "Best of the Best" Summaries from Blogs: Many blogs feature regular "links" posts, which summaries their take on great related blogging from across the blogosphere. I regularly count on these bloggers to do the heavy-lifting and deep-reading for me, then just scan their summaries for stories I might want to read more about. Blogs in general are a great way to allow other people (with more time) to do your reading for you, but these "best of" posts are like a lightning-round. Some blogs with particularly good summaries are MicroPersuasion (for media/marketing/PR news), LifeHacker (for productivity best practices) and WiseBread (for great personal finance advice).

What have I missed? What services and tools do you count on to summarize news and important information for you? Please share your ideas and suggestions in the comments!

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