How I Read & Remember What I Read

On average I read a book every two weeks. For me, that’s a lot and by no means something I began doing overnight. I used to read books here and there, maybe reading one every other month. Then I started reading one a month, and now roughly one every two weeks. It’s become a way to relax, to continue educating myself, and something I truly enjoy.

That said, I find reading is only as valuable as it is applied. For reading to take hold it’s critical to comprehend, remember, and apply any lessons learned. This, more so than the reading, has become my biggest challenge. I believe I have a good solution though.

Step 1

Read with a Highlighter

Every book I read, I read with a highlighter in hand. I highlight what I find important, interesting, or worth remembering. I’m not afraid to mark a book up and have found that owning a physical copy of a book, not an ebook, works best for these purposes.

Step 2

Reread What’s Highlighted

Once I’ve finished a book I put it down for a day and “sleep on it.” It takes a good day for the ideas and totality of the book to set in. Then I pick it back up and reread everything I highlighted to reinforce the the lessons and core concepts. Depending on the length of the book and how much I liked it rereading all the highlights can take an hour or so.

Step 3

Email Myself the Highlights that Resonate Most

After rereading all of the highlights, what highlights resonate with me most I draft in an email to myself. These highlights often included charts, graphs, or visuals from the book. Perhaps even photos of pages from the book. Then using a service like Boomerang or an email client with a “send later” feature like Nylas N1, I schedule the email to be sent to myself at a later, random date.

Step 4

Read & Reschedule the Email

When the day comes, getting the email jogs my memory of the book. It makes sure what I learned from the book I’m still applying. More times than not these emails arrive right as the memory of the book begins to fade, along with my instinct to put it into action. Perfect timing! Then I reschedule the email to be sent to myself again at a later random, date.

Step 5

Repeat

After reading a few books and following this process I continually get random emails reminding me what I’ve read and what I should keep top of mind. It’s largely a low friction technique that keeps on giving. Now, I look forward to these emails and continually improving on what I already know.

If you’re curious as to some of my favorite books and those I keep handy, check out my bookcase.