Strategies for Remembering what you Read

Whether you like reading or not, most people have a difficult time remembering what they have read. Old and new readers alike know that the more you read and the more information you retain, the harder it becomes to keep maintaining that old information and adding new knowledge at the same time. But, you’ll find the following tips useful if you want to remember what you have read.

First, if you are trying to remember pieces of information for a class or seminar or discussion, it is best that you take notes. When you take notes, it is not wise to make a note of everything. Taking notes does not mean that you have to explain every paragraph. It means being able to pick out the most important pieces of information, transcribing the information, and then remembering those pieces of information. So, summaries of chapters are very useful (more so compared to summaries of every paragraph) because, even though it is condensed information, you know that the information you have is concise and important.

Next, if you are trying to comprehend certain ideas (not just memorizing facts), it is best for you to try to summarize, vocally in your own words, what you have read. Do this for every chapter that you read. If what you have just read explores material that may be applied in situations around you, then do so. Concepts are easy to remember because you can easily take one concept from a book and apply it to a real-life situation.

Also, if you prefer to study in a group, you have the advantage of being able to share your information with others. Likewise, you will also take part in their understanding of the text, too. Book clubs and reading groups are formulated for the purpose of sharing information (in the form of opinions, usually). For some reason, whether scientific or socially-explained, the vocalizing of information sticks to people’s memories. For the most part, lectures are not memorable because they involve the conveyance of information in a manner that isn’t exciting or “noteworthy.” But on the other hand, panels are more successful than lectures because they involve the audience. In the same way, participating with other people in the exploration or understanding of a text will help you remember that text better.

Last but not least, sometimes the times at which you read something will help determine how you remember that reading. For instance, if you are not at your minimum comfort level, you won’t remember what you read. In particular, say that you are in your family room reading, and suddenly five people just walked into the door. They talk loudly for ten minutes. What you read during those ten minutes will not stick out to you later. So, look for places where you can be at your maximum comfort level, so that your brain is focused on the task at hand.So, if you want to remember what you read, make sure that you take notes, summarize the text vocally, participate with others in discussing what you have just read, and make sure that while you are reading, you (and especially your brain) are comfortable.