Read, Remember and Retrospect

I may not be an avid reader like I was in my childhood, but I like to do it with a purpose.

And so, whether it is the thirst for knowledge, simple curiosity, or just for pleasure, I acknowledge the driving force that brings me to a new book.

Sometimes, I am intrigued by the premise. For example, these days I am reading Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men, written by Caroline Criado Perez.

This book is a choice to satisfy multiple purposes: from understanding the ineptitude and ignorance that doctors demonstrate towards my partner all while they handle me like I am privileged (that includes female doctors!), to applying any teaching to my job, to create less biased datasets and algorithms.

But, whereas novels and fiction are easily sticking as I play out these stories within my head, facts based on numbers and academic findings are more difficult to keep in mind, because they are not as “amusing”.

This is to say that even if we consciously deem certain information as “important”, that may not be the case for our brain, which decides what to retain on its own accord.

Hence, storytelling non-fictional facts become very important once we are willing to make our quality reading time more efficient.

In the case of the book I am reading right now, I simply walk backward, mentally, on what I recall at the end of my time.

It does not matter if few paragraphs or a whole chapter, I have made a habit of stopping after a while, usually when I decide to close the book, to ask myself: “so, what was that about?”, followed by: “and what have I learned from it?”.

The great thing about this simple tactic is that it keeps you engaged even after you close your papers or eReader.

If you do not remember something, your next thoughts would probably be on that.

If something is redundant, you will look in your neural archives to find where have you read something similar, or that challenges your new piece of information.

If you do not like taking notes from your books, especially if you aren’t studying what you read, then this is a good escamotage to keep a continued engagement. Which in turn, it will make the reading more memorable.

The next time you’ll ask: “so, where were we?” and again you will play recall. It is a quasi-meditative exercise that will give you more pleasure in your activity.

What else does help you remember what you read?

Published by Andrea Paviglianiti

I practice coaching, I love reading, and I work as a data scientist. I also recharge my batteries with meditation, martial arts, and video games. I perform career and skills coaching – thus I define myself as a “cognitive” coach: I help people improve their learning experience to succeed where they want. My method is based on behavioral analysis, psychology of learning, philosophy of dialogue, and classic literature. I write about how to get better at learning, the best books I read, and my personal philosophy of coaching. And I will not lie to you – I can get verbose at times! I’d be happy if you stick around and read more of what I have to share!

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