Remembering What You Read

Shane Parrish writes A System for Remembering What You Read. Briefly, it’s a matter of interacting with what you read by taking notes, thinking and asking questions about what you’re reading, reviewing your notes, and applying/connecting those ideas to other things you know. As Parrish states,

We fail to remember a lot of the stuff we read because it’s not building on any existing knowledge

All of his techniques involve building on and making connections to what we already know. Without doing that, we might be able to, as he says, “regurgitate” information, but we don’t really understand what we’ve read. 

Moreover, he goes beyond simply building on and making connections. He argues that we need 

to build a latticework of Mental Models. That is, acquire the core multi-disciplinary knowledge and use that as your foundation. This is the best investment because this stuff doesn’t change and if it does it changes really slowly. This becomes your foundation. This is what you build on. So when you read and connect things to the core knowledge, not only do you have a better idea of how things fit together but you strengthen those connections in your head from use.

As these models are heuristics, they have fuzzy, overlapping boundaries, but they help in building our understanding of experience, and, as he points out, "Decisions are more likely to be correct when ideas from multiple disciplines all point towards the same conclusion."