Taming “read later” apps

When smartphones became popular, a new kind of app emerged to address the limitations of the small screen and the mobile nature of these devices that keep us in constant contact with interesting content.

“Read it later” apps, such as Instapaper and Pocket, serve as private repositories for articles we save throughout the day when we don’t have time to read them immediately.

I’ve always had one of these apps on my phone, but I’ve never been able to stop the number of unread articles from skyrocketing.

Can anyone manage it? The cycle is always the same: I download a new app or revisit an old one, start adding articles faster than I can read them, and before I know it, my reading list is in the triple digits. At that point, I declare bankruptcy and restart the cycle.

During one of these cycles, I discovered Quiche Reader (available for iOS, macOS, and as extensions for Chrome and Firefox), created by Greg de J. It’s an app “for overloaded readers,” and I liked it even before downloading it. The concise description of Quiche Reader is:

Quiche Reader removes the anxiety of decision making. It only shows the first page in your queue, and helps you decide to read or delete it, before you can proceed to the next page in line.

Quiche Reader’s restrictions relieve the burden of carrying hundreds of articles that I tell myself I will read “one day.” (I will never read them.) Using Quiche Reader is very different from using traditional apps like Instapaper and Pocket.

I used the app for a week (more on that later) and then went back to a traditional app, but I took with me the lessons I learned from Quiche. The main lesson can be summarized in one word: detachment.

Articles I saved two years ago, lying to myself that I would read them someday? Not anymore. Articles that seemed worth reading at the time but lost their appeal quickly? Same.


I still save a lot of articles. When my schedule allows, I spend a little more than an hour at the end of the day reading the interesting things I saved earlier. Over the weekend, I dedicate more time to my reading list.

Since discovering Quiche Reader, Sundays have become mini-New Year’s Eves for me: I delete any leftover articles from my reading list. I start Monday with a clean slate.

This weekly renewal ritual has extended to my feed aggregator as well. The one-week deadline I set for myself creates slight pressure to tackle articles that don’t initially grab my interest but which I believe are important—and they often turn out to be more interesting than I expected.

Reading what others publish on the internet is directly related to my work, but it’s also more than that. It’s one of the best ways I know to encounter different realities and worldviews, and to experience serendipity. That’s why maintaining my reading list is so important to me. I share this tip with you in the hope that it will be useful.


What about Quiche Reader? I don’t use “read it later” apps to manage what I’ve already read. Those articles go to Linkding, to-do lists, get shared with others, or just get deleted.

In other words, I could use Quiche Reader—if it weren’t for a few issues.

The problem is that it’s still a bit rough around the edges. It lacks support for web viewer reading modes and ad-blocking extensions. Since it only opens the web version of the articles, I often have a poor experience on sites with bad layouts, which is most of them nowadays. (Disabling JavaScript can fix the worst offenders, but not always.)

I spoke with Greg, the developer of Quiche Reader, via email. He said he is focusing on his other app, Quiche Browser. He assured me he hasn’t abandoned Quiche Reader but can’t provide a timeline for future updates at the moment. I’ll be waiting for them.

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