One of the biggest problems readers face is that they aren’t retaining enough information from the books they read.
Some assume that simply reading a book is enough to digest information and make use of it. That somehow, our brains are juat supposed to absorb this information like osmosis. It doesn’t work like this.
For readers to really absorb information from a book, reflection is essential.
A Better Way to Reflect
Sitting quietly and pondering the thoughts laid out in a book is great, but there’s a better way (at least for paperbacks).
It looks like this:
(Notes from Mastery by Robert Greene. Forgive the poor lighting.)
Essentially what you’re doing is writing down the most important ideas from the books you read. When a passage or idea really jumps out to you, jot it down so that you can come back to it later. And not just a few days later, but years later.
Now, I can look at my bookshelf, pull off a book, and pull out this sheet of paper. Right away, I feel immersed in the book, and can entertain ideas that occurred when I read it before.
What I like about this technique is that it is simple, organized and convenient. Instead of flipping over hundreds of pages to extract the biggest ideas, you have all the ideas in one convenient place.
This is not to say you shouldn’t underline, take notes in margins, etc. Rather, you should add this as an additional tool to your arsenal.
How to Use this Method
This technique is quite simple: Grab a blank sheet of paper, fold it in half, and write! The short space forces you to write down just a few words to summarize an idea. If a great quote stands out to you, just write the page number down.
And another welcome benefit is that the piece of paper serves as a bookmark!
Though this technique is simple, it will really go a long way. Try it out the next time you’re reading a physical book.