I am a lover of books. I have always been since I was a little girl. My love for reading started with my grandmother reading me fairy tales at bedtime when I was sleeping over at their house. It was not just a tradition but a special time I always looked forward to and treasured. Of course, the beautiful pictures in the book always enhanced my imagination of the story.
As I became older, I enjoyed young children’s books because they were teaching me about life, people, situations and how to handle relationship, or how not to handle relationships. The stories and characters were those of real life and almost preparing me for what to expect life could offer or destroy. I then became interested in self-help books since high school and beyond. I always think that you can learn something form someone else’s journey, which why I also love writing.
At university level it becomes more important to remember what you read as most of your learning isn’t from the lectures but from your own studying. Then when you go into the real world, especially in the corporate world, most companies encourage or even require the reading of business books to enhance synergy, good communication, time management and productivity. I found that as life became busier as an adult, time for reading became less. You’d have to remember what you’ve read in a short period of time as it would be expected of you to implement the tactics or guidance you should have learnt from the book. Sometimes, you even give feedback of your summary of the book’s contents in a meeting or a mentoring session.
I think that reading as a skill remains important throughout life and how to remember what you’ve read even more so. Therefore, I have a few ideas on how to remember what you’ve read, be it for school purposes, hobbies, self-help or business.
Many people don’t like to read simply because they don’t read well. They might feel that reading is hard work. For them it might take so much effort to read, understand and remember what they’ve read, they would just read a page or two or maybe even a chapter but then stop. But like anything in life, if you want to read better, you need to read more. For most people, we have to read and reread something several times before we understand or can remember what we’ve read.
Reading well starts at school level and teachers do try to teach children how to read, but it comes with practise at home because the teacher simply doesn’t have time to intensely spend with each child. Every parent should do their best to support and help their kids learn how to read well. It will enhance their future, especially in doing well academically, having confidence to read aloud in the classroom and to make studying easier at tertiary level.
To remember what you’ve read in non-fictional books:
- First skim through the chapters, headings, subheadings, the intro and ending to get a feel for what the book is about.
- Ensure that when you start reading, you have a purpose and focus on achieving that purpose.
- While you read, try to imagine or visualise the story. Envision the examples and facts given so that you have a picture or a personal reference of what you’ve read.
- Rereading isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you go back and reread or even rehearse what you’ve read it can enhance your memory of the content.
- We are not robots so stay within your attention span.
- When revisiting what you’ve read soon after reading it (the next day or the week after), it is proven you will remember what you’ve read a lot more than when you only read it once.
The goal in the end is to save ourselves time and the inconvenience of not remembering what you’ve read. Especially for that important meeting where you want to share valuable concepts, facts or ideas that can help the situation.
Other ways to remember:
- Draw images of the main concepts or ideas. The brain does not only remember in one form (reading), it can also remember in visual or auditory ways. So, try all the different ways to ensure you can find the way(s) how your brain remembers best. For some people mind maps are effective because you can combine the two visual aspects (written and visual). Other than that, you can also try to record what you read and listen to the audio later.
- Choose your reading time right. In other words, don’t try to read when you are exhausted. Fatigue can decrease your ability and effectiveness to focus and can end up making you feel less accomplished. Choose a time to read when you are awake and energized enough to focus.
- As with everything we do, we should always have a purpose. When you have a goal in mind your motivation will be higher.
- Distraction is the 21st century’s biggest downfall. We don’t get half as much done as we could because technology and distraction reduce our discipline and disrupts our focus daily. Switching off your phone’s alerts is a good start, but other factors like, putting the dogs outside, shutting the door, eliminating radio or television noise in the background, a comfortable room temperature, your position in your chair and even hunger can affect your productivity.
- Speeding isn’t always the way to go, especially if you are struggling to read. Take it chapter by chapter, or even just page by page. Reading gets better when you keep reading.
Although for some people remembering what they’ve read is not a problem at all, I certainly want to improve my memory. Sometimes when you reread a book it won’t only help you to recall what you’ve previously read or learnt but you might even read something you didn’t see before. The latest book I want to reread is the 5am Club by Robin Sharma. It has such valuable content, but I mostly read it just before I switched off my bedside lamp and therefore I can’t recall all the wisdom I read. This time I will also make notes or highlight important words or sentences. I feel that time spent reading is never time wasted. As Dr Seuss says: “The more that you read the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”. Happy reading and remembering folks.