How to remember everything that you read (10 easy tips)
In a world overloaded with information, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and end up choosing the easier option, such as watching the latest series on Netflix or endlessly scrolling through social media looking for cat videos.
By now you should understand that reading is a key component to your success, you’re able to gain insights, specialist knowledge and ultimately be a more well-rounded version of yourself.
So, why do we avoid it reading so much?
Because we haven’t learned how to read properly!
We’ve mastered the art of reading more books and there is a lot of research going into speed reading yet, we’ve not been taught how to remember what we read.
You can read all of the books in the world and if you forget it a month, a week or even a day later, it’s absolutely pointless!
So, if you’re practicing for an exam, learning a new topic or just want to full in love with reading, stick around to learn how.
Know your why
One of the biggest problems when it comes to reading is the motivation behind it. How many times at school did you say that you’re not going to need something in the future so, you’re not going to learn about it.
I don’t blame you to be honest.
What’s the point in reading about something if you have no interest in it or it won’t become useful in the future.
This is one of the main reasons why people fall out of love with reading and stop when they finish their education.
By enjoying the topic that you are learning about you’re more likely to actively read it, be more focused on and because overall remember it.
So, how do you figure out your why?
Well, you need to understand what the reason for you reading the book is for, is it;
- To have all the information you need to pass a test?
- Because you enjoy reading and you want to relax?
- Because you want to have a better understanding of something?
- To become an expert in a certain topic?
You need to ask yourself these every time you’re choosing a book, this will also help you to identify the key information that you can take from the book.
Connect it with something you already have knowledge on
A great way to remember what you are reading about is to connect the information with something that you already know.
What do I mean by this?
Look for similarities or ways the thing you are learning about can be used elsewhere, like something you already know or have an interest in.
There are certain foods that look like the body parts they are good for so, if you notice that a walnut looks like a brain, you’ll remember that it is beneficial for the brain.
Try making these neural connections wherever you are learning and watch everything become one, like when all the jigsaw puzzle pieces fit together.
You can even come up with fun little mnemonics that help you remember a sequence of things or small passages that need to be remembered.
An example of this is when your trying to memorize the order of the planet’s orbiting the sun – my (Mercury) very (Venus) educated (Earth) mother (Mars) just (Jupiter) served (Saturn) us (Uranus) nine (Neptune) pizzas (Pluto).
This leads nicely onto the next to.
Look for the golden nuggets
In an average book, there’s roughly around 250 pages and on each page there’s around 500 words which adds up to a whopping total of 125,000 words and that’s just one book!
So, Remembering every single word is near enough impossible to do and that’s why you need to focus on absorbing the most important information from a book.
You’re not going to remember everything but, you are going to remember everything that you need to.
Firstly, you need to remember your why again. This will help you pick out the most important bits of the book.
Look for headlines, highlighted areas, images and bolded text, these are all little clues that the author uses to let you know something is important.
Take this blog post for example, you don’t really need to know why or these tips will help you, you just need to remember them so you can use them the next time you open up a book and that’s why I’ve put each tip as a headline.
Hard copy vs E-reading
Now this is a tough one!
Some people swear by reading a physical book and others think its slow and boring so, you should read from your devices.
Realistically, any type of reading, whether it’s on your phone or from a textbook is great but, which is better?
Well, when it comes to memorizing what you read, unfortunately we would probably have to say that reading a hard copy is better than reading online and it’s because of two main reasons.
- Pretty much anything you use on the internet is made to be as ”addicting” as possible, that includes social media notifications, games and even the way ads are shown to you are there to keep you engaged! Yes you could turn your internet of and delete some apps but, how long for?
- So, if the last point wasn’t enough, we’ve got something else you might want to know… There are many studies, including this one, that suggests retaining and recalling information that you read about is harder to do online. There could be many different reasons for this but one theory is that actually touching e.g. Turning the page, helps in forming the memory.
But, it’s all about enjoying the experience so, use whichever one suits you best!
Skim reading is a technique in which you quickly go through the words on the page, deliberately skipping majority of the text and only focusing on the most important parts.
The main ideas, facts, figures and anything else that you think is vital for your learning should be searched for.
This is a great practice when using school textbooks, you can look at each individual section, the titles and headlines and anything that’s been highlighted. One of the most useful things to use is the questions at the bottom of the page that you have in most textbooks.
By skim reading before you read something in it’s whole entirety, will prime your brain to remember the most important parts and not only that, it will help you quickly identify the main concepts.
Subject over book
When it comes to studying a topic, whether it’s for your exams or because of your career, reading the same book over and over again can become very boring and if you don’t understand something the first few times, you can’t expect different results reading the same thing.
Whatever you are learning about, I can pretty much guarantee that there’s not just one book that explains everything, there will be hundreds if not thousands.
So, if you are struggling to digest the information you need, look for some other ways that you can learn the content, it doesn’t even have to be just books.
Delve into the subject and get a deeper understanding of everything there is to know. Read other books, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries and films to have a wider knowledge of the topic.
Many of the older books are outdated and hard to read and relate to, especially school books like Romeo and Juliet but, by watching the modernized 1996 film version with Leonardo DiCaprio, you might be able to understand the language better.
As a youngster, you’re always taught that writing in your reading book was a no go and you could get into serious trouble if you did but in fact, it’s one of the best things you can do.
Writing in the books that you are reading is a common practice amongst the rich and successful. This technique is called Marginalia, which is where you write annotations, your thoughts and comments in the margin of your book.
Taking notes is great for remembering what you read because you can put your own mark on what the book is telling you.
It allows you to turn information into knowledge!
Once you’ve finished a chapter, try summarizing it into three or four sentences, think about what you have learned, what you take away from it and how you can apply it to your life.
Now, re-reading the same book over and over again won’t help you remember what you need to know but, there are some things that you can do.
Use your summaries and any other notes that you have written and turn them in to some sort of flashcard.
You can use pictures, graphs, bullet points and pretty much anything else that you think will help.
Once you’ve created the flashcards, use spaced repetition to help you remember it. This is when set up times when your brain is just about to forget the information and then you recite it using your flashcards.
It’s also a great idea to use come up with some practice questions to help cement that knowledge in your head. You can think of some before reading, use any in the book or ask someone to quiz you.
Use the Feynman technique
The Feynman technique, named after the physicist Richard Feynman, is a practice used to learn and fully understand a topic that you are interested in.
In short, it’s a way of knowing every single detail, without having to overcomplicate it, because “ if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Here are the steps
- Learn the topic.
- Explain the topic to someone else, imagine you’re teaching a child.
- Don’t use complicated words and use analogies.
- If this works your knowledgeable, if not, learn the topic again and repeat the steps.
When it comes to reading, it’s also beneficial to be actionable so… If you’re reading a cookbook try one of the recipes, business book? Start a business, it’s really that simple.
Having a rest after you read is like pressing the save button in your brain, it helps connect the information you ingested to your memories, deepening the formation of the memory.
Spend the time between each page to really think about how this will help you, have a quick nap in between chapters and make sure that you have a good night’s sleep!
My notes from this blog post
- Enjoying what you read is one of the most important things when it comes to remembering what you read.
- It’s all about actively reading, getting involved and looking at the bigger picture.
- You’ve got to do what’s right for you.
- Memory techniques apply to remembering books.
If you have any further questions, remarks or requests for what you would like to see more of, you can comment here on the blog, or message us on our social media channels below.