Last year I’ve run into this video on How to Read Faster, by Mark Mason, which includes tips on remembering what you’ve read. I figured I can also share some of my thoughts about it.
Why do I highlight passages on books?
When Mason talks about remembering what you’ve read, he mentions he sees no value in highlighting books. He thinks of it from the standpoint of how (or why) we normally have to read at school: “you’re tested on what you’ve read”.
I don’t do it from that perspective.
Highlighting makes me slow down when I’m speed reading. It makes me tell my brain “that’s important/interesting… take your time.”
When I finish the book, I come back and go through the pages, looking for my highlights, and often I find things I wanted to explore further.
Why do I take notes as I read?
Same reason as with highlighting.
Note-taking makes me slow down and further assimilate the content I’m reading.
I write down my own words to connect with the content. I use words from anecdotes and similar experiences or existing knowledge that I may want to associate with the content.
How does this apply to my life?
The notes and highlights help me think how the content applies to my life.
Talk about the ideas with other people
Mark also mentions this idea. I’ve been recommending people do that as a deliberate practice to improve their public speaking: learned something new or had some challenging experience? Tell someone else over lunch or at a water fountain conversation!
Many of my talks are created like that.
Printed vs Ebooks
I’m used to consume books in all different types of formats. But I’ve noticed that it’s easier for me to remember information when I read a printed copy. There’s something about picking up a book, flipping through the pages, feeling the book’s weigh… that seems to help me.
Do I want to remember everything?
I do NOT want or need to remember everything. I’m usually fine with knowing in which book I’ve read about something so I can later go back to it for more. Having a good process and system to find that faster is a bonus.
With that said, I haven’t had to read a book with the goal of taking a test in several years.