8 Great Tips on How to Remember What You Read

I’ve been asked this question frequently by many of the people following this site. It’s a valid and common question. The answer is one I’ve developed during all my days of avid reading and which many other avid readers such as Warren Buffet or Elon Musk follow as well. Now, I’m giving you these 8 great tips on how to remember what you read so you can apply them right away.

Remember What You Read Tip 1: Underline or Highlight Meaningful Passages

When I first started reading avidly back in 2015 I rarely ever underlined or highlighted the lines in the books I read. That was a big mistake. The physical action of underlining and highlighting passages helps you to remember what you’ve just read. It’s also good for when you want to revisit the book at a later date. The underlined or highlighted lines are like markers for your memory. Underlining and highlighting also helps your memory for when you write reviews or summaries.


Remember What You Read Tip 2: Read at Least Ten or More Pages in One Sitting. No Less

I’ve recently noticed if I read less than ten pages in one sitting it makes it much harder to remember where I left off when I pick the book back up. It’s preferably better if you read even more than ten pages, but I know you all are strapped for time with your busy schedules. For me, a minimum of ten pages seems to be the magic number. Just test this tip and find out what the magic number is for you to remember what you read.


Remember What You Read Tip 3: Write Your Thoughts and Notes at the Time of Reading in the Margin and/or Notebook

Writing your thoughts down right away will hugely help you to remember what you read over time. Plus when you come back to take a look at your notes you’ll be able to recall the feelings you felt at the time of reading. Maybe you were going through a hard time in your life at the time. It could have been a completely perfect time in your life. By writing down your thoughts in the book, on your phone or laptop, or in a notebook you’ll retain what you read much better than you ever have before.


I personally find this tip very helpful for doing extra study on the topic of the book as well. When I write a review or what to understand the topic deeply then I look at my notes, pull out handy Google search, and get to studying.


Remember What You Read Tip 4: Google Points From the Book You Want to Understand Better

I think this is the step that most people probably skip, but if you truly want to be more knowledgeable about the subject you’re reading about then studying online is the way to go. Although researching more in-depth about a topic is time-consuming it’s well worth your time and effort to help you to remember what you read.


Remember What You Read Tip 5: Read at Least Two Books From Different Genres at the Same Time

Maybe you only read one book at a time. I recommend trying to read two or more books from different genres at a time. It helps strengthen your memory as well as keep you from getting burnt out on a particular topic too quickly. Just make sure not to spread yourself too thin by reading too many books all at once. It’s also a smart idea to pick a specific book for a particular time and place. For example, you might read the same book for fifteen minutes every morning while sipping your hot coffee before going to work. At night you’ll have a different book you read before going to sleep.


I read three to five books at once. At the time of this writing this post I was reading Five Stars, Shortcut Your Startup, The Shining, and Make it So. It’s quite a handful but I truly believe by diversifying my reading list I can remember not only more about what I’m reading but about the events in my life at the time of reading these books. Just give it a try.


Remember What You Read Tip 6: Write a Summary or Review Including Your Thoughts and Feelings About the Book

One of the whole reasons why I started a book blog back in 2015 was to express my feelings and thoughts about the books I finish reading. As I wrote more book reviews I got better at writing for one, but most importantly I got better at retaining the information in the books. Writing summaries or reviews help you to internalize the important aspects of the book you want to remember.


I highly recommend doing this so that you can remember what you read. You don’t even have to publish your writing although if you really wanted to you could. Who knows, you might end up making writing reviews more than just a hobby. It could be on a free blog, Facebook note, in a word document or even a physical notebook. The physical process of writing your ideas down in any format, especially writing by hand, has been proven to improve your memory.


Remember What You Read Tip 7: Listen to the Audiobook After Reading the Book or Vice Versa

Whether you like reading or listening to the books you consume you’ll greatly improve your memory of what you read if you listen to the audiobook after you have read the book the first time. If you listened to the book the first time then read the book the second time through.


I personally love reading books more than I do listening to them. There are positives and negatives for both. By doing the opposite of what you did the first time through the book you’re reinforcing what you noticed the first time and possibly taking note of even more.


Related Post: Reading Books is Not Enough – Alternatives to Reading Books


Remember What You Read Tip 8: Reread/Relisten to the Whole Book or Favorite Chapters

Similar to tip 7, rereading or relistening to your book will make it much easier for you to remember what you read. This may not mean that you have to reread every single word in the book if you don’t have the time. Like for me, I usually skim my notes and reread particular chapters just to refresh my memory of the topic I want to improve on.


Earlier in 2018, I ran a workshop at Petra Christian University. In preparation for the event, I reread most of TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking which helped a great deal in boosting my confidence and ability to present in front of the accounting faculty. Another book I was reading at the time is called The Storyteller’s Secret which is a book I will definitely refer to over and over again for years to come.


To close it up

It’s extremely important to remember what you read otherwise reading would be worthless if you just forget. So I hope the advice in this post has helped you out tons.


Not everyone’s reading style is the same so if you have another way of remembering what you read that’s perfectly fine. If you do, please include your advice in the comment section below.


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