Remembering more of what you read

3 ways to remember more of what you read:

  1. Know what you’re looking for (What do you want to get or achieve by reading this?)
  2. Take notes, paraphrase, reflect (active reading)
  3. Teach it / share the takeaways (forces you to externalise what you have read in your own words)

And a bonus trick:

  • Read it from the last page / paragraph / sentence up. I find it engages my attention more, like working backwards solving a puzzle.

“This sounds like a lot of hard work just for reading!”

Well, yes and no. Depends on what you set out to do by the time you read and how interested you are in the topic.

If you are genuinely interested in what you read, you will still retain more by practicing these steps and they will feel more effortless. But these methods are useful too if you just need to retain this for a certain period of time (e.g. for exams, a training).

Other than for education (retaining, acquiring knowledge, getting informed), we also read for entertainment (leisure, staving off boredom).

This intent-based classification makes more sense to me compared to by genre (fiction and non fiction for example). You can read a fiction book with the intention of education (working on an assignment, preparing for a test). You can also read non fiction as a way to entertain yourself.

The key I think is in being aware of your intention. Why are you even reading it? Because it shows up in your feed? Social approval? Because It benefits your career?

This intention then affects the reading experience (how fast you read it, how long you are willing to stay with it, how many times you read it) and what you do with the things you read (revel in the words, savour it, replay it, make decisions with it, combine it with other material, etc).

We now sit in the middle of a data and information buffet. It’s both noisy and exciting at the same time. We make constant decisions on what to ignore and what to follow through.

To better manage our sanity, we need to create our own system to synthesise information well.

This ranges from mental hacks you can practice to external tools and workflows to augment your brain and let it does what it does best: thinking and processing instead of storing.

This is the very topic I’m currently exploring in this newsletter: How to get things into our heads, out of our heads, and across to other people’s heads.

I publish every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Subscribe if you’re interested in going on this journey with me in getting better at learning, thinking, and communicating..

Nonfiction is any document or content that purports in good faith to represent truth and accuracy regarding information, events, or people. Nonfiction content may be presented either objectively or subjectively, and may sometimes take the form of a story.

Slight tangent on fiction and non-fiction: one author remarked that all books or form of writing are fictions because they are the author’s own interpretations of reality, through their own set of mental models. I can’t remember where exactly I heard this or who said this but I’ll link it here once I do.

What do you think?

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