Getting More Out of Your Book Reading
Never before in history have people had so much information at their fingertips. With a flick of a mouse (or fingers on mobile) we can look up anything we want to know in the moment.
The immediate access to knowledge has us thinking we can just easily recall the information later when we want to. Unless you have a photographic memory, that wont happen.
Within 24 hours you’ll start to forget what you looked up unless you review it again. This is true of any information we consume. The forgetting curve is steepest in the first 24 hours and continues afterwards until we remember only parts of the data we’ve consumed.
Binge Watching vs Weekly Viewing
It’s very popular to binge watch TV series. A great way to spend a weekend vegging out at home. Do you know that you’ll actually remember less of the series over time than if you watched it weekly?
I was kind of surprised when I read about a study reaching this conclusion. Then I thought about it. If I watch a series one after another, the details of the series is fresh in my mind for each episode.
If I watch a week at a time, as an episode starts or during the show my memory has to go to work to remember the context. Thus I can remember more over time than if I watch in immediate succession.
Recalling Details From Books
Even with all the content available on the web, reading books has not gone out of style. What has changed is not everyone reads books the same way.
As I get older, I much prefer to read books electronically so I can enlarge the text, change it to text easier on my eyes or change the colours.
Many people still prefer to hold a book in their hands to read.
No matter which form you prefer to read books, it’s important to be able to retain as much of the details important to you as possible.
I prefer to make notes directly into Obsidian for later review and processing. This works well for me to have my book open in the reader either on the desktop or tablet and a note open on the laptop.
If I’m away from the laptop, I’ll use pen and paper to transcribe later. If I'm on my ipad, I'll split screen and take notes with the pencil.
If you’re reading the hardcopy of a book you own, go ahead and mark it up with the markings of your choice. Use the blank inside pages to add page references to where you want to explore again or to make notes.
How I Take Notes
My book notes depend if I’m reading a fiction or non-fiction book. Let’s look at non-fiction first. I don’t often take notes on fiction books but almost always do on non-fiction.
There are different types of notes I take from a book. When I setup a note for the book, I setup groups to put my notes in.
I’ll come back to them later to review and create more permanent notes. On some books I’ll setup a note for each chapter.
Non-Fiction Book Note
The groups are:
- Quotes — direct quotes from the book you want to remember
- Key Concepts — the key message(s) the book is about
- Vocabulary Growth — if you encounter words you’re not sure of, look them up and make note here. Record terms the book uses you were not familiar with and what they mean.
- Date finished - the date on the note will tell me when I started.
- Book or Author Recommendations - If you find references to books or authors you want to explore further, record them here.
- Important Details - points you want to remember
- Your Takeaways - write some thoughts on what you got from the book, how it changed your understanding or what you learned.
The Important Details is drawn from the text while the Takeaways is you putting what you’ve learned in the book into your own words.
A way to test what you’ve learned on anything is to try to explain it to someone else. So, explain it to yourself.
Fiction Book Note
The groups I use:
- Notes on the Plot
- interesting Plot Twists
- Passages I Really Like
- Notes on the Characters — Their personalities and characteristics
- My Thoughts on the Book
Some fiction books I’ll just read and enjoy. Others I find myself drawn to explore deeper. As a writer, I want to kind of take it apart and understand what makes it tick.
You’ll have your own reasons for taking notes to greater understand what you’re reading.
The important thing is, use a system that works for you. The system should support your learning, not be a drag on it.
NOTE: header image from Pixabay.com
Shadowspub is a writer from Ontario, Canada. She writes on a variety of subjects as she pursues her passion for learning. She also writes on other platforms and enjoys creating books you use like journals, notebooks, coloring books etc.
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