Life Hacks

Read to remember: How to read like a pro

Book Reading Page

The amount of memory we have can not be increased, but our ability to learn and remember can be improved. We have to make the memorizing a conscious habit. Like everything else we do is (hopefully) methodical, reading, remembering and memorizing should also be done with a few important guidelines in mind.

The following tips are going to help you get better at reading books and retaining the read information, though you can apply the same techniques to newspapers, articles and information in any other printed/written form.

Take a bird’s eye view – Make it a habit to review what you are going to read. Skim through pages and let your eyes rest for a while on bolded words and section headlines. This cursory inspection will give you a good idea of what to expect in the book, and what it is all about.

Mission rememberable – Reading is like storing the information on a RAM, and remembering is like saving it to the hard disk. Therefore to save the information to hard disk, so you can access it later, you have to literally save it to your brain. Don’t get it? Remembering is not difficult if you remember the fact that you want to remember what you are reading. Seems like a no-brainer but often times we read to temporarily store the important points in a disposable corner of our brain, with the intention to forget it later. If you truly intend to permanently remember what you read, you most certainly will.

May the Stephen Spielberg be with you! – What is easy to remember, a visual film or a written book? Let me guess: you answer is film. You can watch the events described in a book unfold on the cinema screen of your mind as you relay the information to it via two projectors (your eyes) So, visualize as you read. Visualizing while reading occurs naturally in mind’s eye, but when you make a concious effort to run a film (directed by you) of events you are reading, you make sure that you are going to remember them for a long time.

Re-read the sections not passages – While reading, if you come across a difficult passage or concept, don’t stop. It is likely that it will be explained in detail later by the author. If you don’t quite get the concept even after you have read the whole section, come back and re-read the difficult part, hopefully you’ll be able to understand it in the light of other related information you have just read.

Thinking is not just for philosophers – Thinking is important. This is when you relate the newly acquired ideas to the facts you already know, and make sense of them. Relax, drink water and think after finishing every chapter to make the new facts a part of the remembered facts.

Don’t overdo it – Don’t take the whole book in one go. Our brains are not designed to work like a donkey. Take breaks after every thirty or so minutes, or whenever you feel tired and feel that your attention is wandering a lot. Likewise, spread the study sessions over a week or so depending on the length of the book.

Write while you read – Take notes. If you are lazy, don’t bother reading this tip, but if you insist you are not, take notes as soon as you come across interesting or important points. The notes should just be in the form of key words or little scribbles. The key words will help you easily remember the whole passages when reviewed later.

Well, that’s about it. There is a lot more that can be said about organized and methodical reading and remembering, but above are good starting points.

Let me know if you like this post, I’ll do another post on remembering names, numbers, addresses, faces and so on.

11 CommentsLife Hacks, Productivity

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