Jesse J. Anderson

How to Remember What You Read

Don't read books if you want to learn.

Well, don't just read books, like we did in school. Underlining, highlighting, and just hoping to keep the knowledge long enough to pass the test. And then forgetting everything once we finished the class.

The paradox of books is that they are a great way to store information, but reading them isn't enough for learning.

So how do we better use books for learning?

Book notes

While reading, highlight the essential. If something surprises you, that's an indicator of unique content to highlight.

You'll end up with disparate blocks of content that you can reshape to make sense. Build a new structure around these, turning content into headlines or bullet points as makes sense. Rewrite or edit when necessary.

This becomes your new source material.

Literature notes

Now break up these book notes into individual concepts. Your book notes might have "4 Keys to Behavior Change", that becomes 4 separate literature notes, one for each key.

These should be rewritten in your own words.

The goal is for these layers of abstraction to help keep the information yet mold it around your own voice.

Evergreen notes

This is where the magic happens. You take different literature notes (ideally from different sources) and combine them to create new unique thoughts. Remixes of the original content.

You should write these as ready-to-publish. You can publish or use as source material for new content.