Wednesday, November 6, 2013

how to read a Christian book (4) remembering what you read

You can read a book, forget it, and still benefit from it. We're shaped by books without even realising it.

Still, it used to frustrate me that I read Christian books and couldn't get them clear in my head (last week's post) or remember much about them (today's post).

So here it is: how to remember what you read.

Summarize (the key to memory)
For me, this was the breakthrough in remembering what I read. I used to write long summaries in the back of my books; this never worked, as they were unwieldy, and I never looked at them again. Instead, here's what I learned to do (it's worth the few minutes it takes):
  • summarize each chapter at the head of the chapter.
    Once you reach the end of a chapter, flick through it again and get it clear in your head. Turn to the top of the chapter, and in the small space given you (keeping you brief and to the point) write a few sentences, or a list of points, that outline the chapter. This will help you recall what you read, and provide a summary next time you look at it.
  • write the main point of each chapter on the contents page.
    Now turn to the contents page. In a few words, next to or under the title of each chapter, note the chapter's main point (this should be what stood out for you). Asterisk your favorite chapters. Now you've got an outline of the book's key points and best chapters should you come back to it.
  • create your own index at the end of the book. On a blank page at the back of the book, you might like to write a list of topics; next to each topic, note down page references as you come to them. Alternatively, list significant passages with page numbers as you go along. When you want to locate a passage in a book, this will be your personal index.

That's it! Next time I'll talk about how to keep track of your favourite quotes and the books you read.

You can read my other tips at The Briefing, or wait for next week - I'll continue to publish this article as a series on my blog.

1 comment:

Jan said...

If a phrase or an idea in particular jumps out at me, I write it at the top of the page it occurs on. Just a few word is sufficient. I started doing this when I was studying and needed to find something quickly to give a quote and an acknowledgment. I can even find it by just flipping through the pages.