There are many reasons to read more books. But my favorite is that a good book can help you see the meaning of your past experiences in a different way.
It’s almost like your brain updates itself every time you learn a new mental model. You can now run all your data points from an old program. Old moments can teach you new lessons. Patrick O’Shaughnessy said, “Reading makes the past better.”
This is true only if you retain and internalize the insights from the books that you have read. It is only possible to retain knowledge. It is important to read more books but also get more from each book.
Reading for knowledge isn’t the only reason you should read. While reading for entertainment or pleasure can be a great use of your time, this article is all about learning. I want to share the best strategies for reading comprehension that I have found.
1. Quit Reading More
It takes only seconds to determine if something is worth your time. High-quality writing and skilled ideas are what make a difference.
Most people should read more books than they currently do. You don’t have to read every page of each book. You can read the table of contents, chapter titles and subheadings. You can choose a section that interests you and then dive in for a few pages. You might flip the book to see any tables or bolded points. You’ll be able to get a good idea of its quality in ten minutes.
2. Select books you can use immediately
You can improve your comprehension by choosing books that you can immediately use. It is important to put the ideas you have read into practice. Learning is best done through practice.
A book you enjoy reading is a great incentive to remember and pay attention. This is especially true when there’s something very important at stake. For example, if you are starting a business, you will have great motivation to read every page of the sales book. A biologist might also read The Origin of Species with more attention than a random reader, because it is directly relevant to their day.
You will find that not all books are practical and easy to use. Many books can provide wisdom. However, I find it easier to recall books that relate to my everyday life.
3. Make Searchable Notes
Take notes of what you read. This can be done in any way you want. This doesn’t have to be complicated or large-scale. Do something to highlight the most important passages and points.
This is done in different ways depending upon the format. When reading on Kindle, I highlight certain passages. While listening to audiobooks, I write down interesting quotes. When I read a book, I can dog-ear the pages and transcribe my notes.
Here’s the key: Store your notes in a searchable format.
- Audiobook: First, I create an Evernote file for each book. Then I type my notes into that Evernote file while I listen.
- Ebook: I highlight pages on my Kindle Paperwhite using Clippings. This program allows me to export all my Kindle highlights into Evernote. After that, I add a summary and any additional thoughts to the book before posting it on my book summaries pages.
III. Print: I print my notes while I read, similar to my audiobook strategy. I can transcribe longer passages by placing the book on a stand while I type. This is the best way I have found to transcribe long passages in a printed book.
Your notes don’t need to be digital in order to be searchable. You can also use Post-It Notes for tagging pages for future reference. Ryan Holiday recommends that you store each note on an indexcard and then categorize them by topic or book.
It is important to keep the core idea the same: Keep searchable notes handy so you can quickly return to your ideas. A good idea can only be useful if it is easily found when you need it.