4 Quick Tips to Remember and Encode What You Read
No matter how much you read, it can be hard to remember the content of those books. When I get asked about what I’ve been reading and enjoying lately, there’s often 1-2 standouts, and then a whole crowd of stuff I can’t entirely remember.
But I want to be able to have the recall of the main characters, the plot, the details that made the book really shimmer.
There’s so much information in our modern age that it can be hard to take it all in, let alone remember and digest it. What’s the point if it all just goes right in and right out?
So, here are four quick tips that help me remember the books I’ve read, and might help you too.
1. Immerse yourself in related material.
For most books I read, there’s a good chance I’ve listened to an author interview or some sort of supporting material. When I went through the presidents, I listened to a ton of history podcasts, including the fantastic Presidential two full times.
As I go through Stephen King’s books, I’m following along with The Loser’s Club podcast. Starting in 2017, a group of friends decided to go through every Stephen King book and then chat about it for a few hours. It’s like dropping in on a book club chat, and it’s wonderful. It’s really helped encode the characters and storylines into my memory.
2. Write about it.
When you write about something, you’re organizing information and coming to some sort of opinion or stance on it. It forces your brain to streamline the subject and pull out the most important parts in a cohesive way. Few tactics will get you to remember something better than writing about it.
I’ve been doing it for about four years now on a weekly basis and I can easily say that I remember what I’ve read in that time period far better than what I read in the years before I was doing this newsletter.
3. Talk about it.
Not a writer? No prob. The next best thing is to just talk about it with other people. When you converse about a book, you get a wider range of insights and opinions that’ll help you think more deeply about what you’re read. Whether in person or online, some sort of discussion around a book is a great way to help you better remember it.
4. Track it.
If you don’t want to do any of the above three things, simply tracking your reading will help you remember it a whole lot better. After you finish a book, write it down in some sort of reading log and give it a quick rating. Every time you add a book, you’ll see the list and remember what you’ve read, which allows to instantly compare books and ratings to see how things stack up. At the end of a year, you’ll be able to look back and inevitably say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that one!” You’ll notice how your memory of a book changes over your time, and perhaps your overall feelings about it too. I’ve been tracking my reading for over 10 years and now there’s no way I could not do it.
Thanks so much for reading! I so appreciate the time and inbox space. I’d love to hear about any tips you’d add to the list here on how to remember what you’re reading.