I first became an avid reader after I started work in Japan. I had just graduated college, and there was a lot I didn’t know about, well, a lot.
My commute was a little over one hour each way by train, so I got a year subscription to audible. With over 10 hours of commuting a week, plus lunch and some other down time, I was able to listen to about two books a week. Each day, I would learn something new and try to put it it to use. That year, I read around 100 books. Some of them twice.
Over the years, I have kept up the mentality that I need to read a lot of books. The faster I can read, the more information I can obtain and the better off I will be. To an extent, this is true. A lot of ideas are shared throughout various books and those ideas become more concrete and reinforced the more I read.
This same mentality has led me to read hundreds of books. The problem is I have forgotten more than I have remembered. This is true for anything that you don’t use repetitively in your daily life. In addition, I have given away most of the books I have read and many were borrowed from the library. They aren’t always available to reread or skim through for information.
It’s time to try something different.
Taking Notes and Summarizing
I need a way to review the important ideas of each book so I can occasionally go back them. I need a catalogue of notes and summaries for each book that describes what I learned. to The credit for this idea goes to Derek Sivers who has taken notes and posted them on his website for over 200 books.
Moving forward, I have started taking notes on the books I am reading. This is time consuming and dramatically changes the way I read books. It changes the focus from reading as books as possible to gaining as much as I can from a single book.
I have to constantly stop to take notes, whether that is highlighting on a kindle book or writing down notes while reading a library book. This dramatically slows down the reading pace.
However, it also dramatically improves retention. Writing something down tells your brain that thing is important and should be remembered. It also makes it easy to review later.
Taking notes and summarizing each book will take a lot more time and work. This means I will be able to read far fewer books, and also limits how and where I can read them.
On the plus side, it means I will have a list of key points to go back to and quickly review, saving me the time of having to re-read a book in the future when I feel it is particularly useful to me.
I’ve started taking notes on “A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” and will post them on here once it is finished.