While the world today is over-saturated with media in the form of television, movies, handheld devices, and the internet books remain one of the best ways to learn about new things or improve your knowledge on subjects you might already be familiar with. It’s for this reason that advertising reps still read books about advertising every day, and you better believe Richard Dawkins (world renown biologist) is still reading books on biology in spite of being one of the most famous scientists in his field.
That said, how many times have you sat down with a book on a subject you were eager to learn about only to put the it down 1000 pages later, feeling like you were no more knowledgeable than you were when you started? It can be easy to read a book without retaining any of the knowledge held inside of it, but this post will teach you how to remember more of what you read, and hopefully make you one of those special people that can read a book and actually comprehend and remember what the author was trying to teach you.
1. Skim the Text
Like most people, you probably tackle a new book by cracking it open, starting at sentence one, and making your way through the text like an explorer chopping his way through the jungle with a machete until you reach the end. Instead of going through this long process, it’s easier—and more effective—to map your route by skimming the text first. Many books have the main points described at the end of each chapter, so take a look at them and try to figure out what each one will teach you. Rather than journeying into the perilous unknown, familiarize yourself with the territory. Prime your brain for what’s to come by skimming the text first and the journey will be easier for you.
2. Define Your Reason for Reading
If you picked up a copy of a book about famous art forgers, it’s a good bet you had a reason to do so. Whether you have to write a report about art forgery, you’re interested in the individuals who would commit such a crime, or you’re looking to get into the business yourself you probably had a reason for choosing to read that book. If you consciously acknowledge this reason, write it down, or say it aloud; then you’ll be able to define the direction you’re going in and this will guide your reading efforts. This direction will let your brain know what’s important and what it can ignore, and you’ll retain more of what matters from your reading.
3. Immerse Yourself in What You’re Reading
How many times have you found yourself sitting in your room with a cup of tea or coffee and a good book for an hour only to realize your eyes have been moving across the page without your brain processing what you were reading? This is because you weren’t immersed in the book in your lap. Immersion is key to retaining what you’re reading. Rather than just reading what it takes to make a good presentation, put yourself in the conference room. Imagine yourself using the keys to engage your audience and explaining your bullet points. If you make the book your reality then you’ll be able to remember it more easily when the time to implement what you’ve learned comes.
Practice the Three Keys
If you skimmed this article before you read it, asked what you wanted to get out of it, and really pictured yourself implementing the strategies above then there’s a good bet your next reading session will be incredibly profitable. There is one last aspect of remembering more of what you read, however: practice until it becomes second nature. Just like a professional quarterback has to practice his throws endlessly, a great reader has to practice his reading technique. Regular practice makes an action second nature, and practicing effective reading will make remembering more of what you read a breeze.
Enter each reading session consciously aware that you will practice the steps outlined in this article and you’ll retain more than you can imagine.