Making The Most Out of Reading

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“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

When I first starting absorbing books. I found it hard to keep what I learned lodged in my brain. I kept forgetting the stuff I learned just yesterday or a few hours earlier. I used to read an article and find myself having vague recollections of coming across all of this before, a deja-vu of some sort, and then it turns out that I did actually read that piece of information already only to forget it.

Thankfully, I started adopting some techniques that helped me with the learning process. Most of them I acquired from attending Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects, an incredible course by Dr.Barbara Oakley and the author of A Mind For Numbers, the excellent book that examines the same ideas.

So, if you want to make the most out of what you read, here are some techniques that worked wonders for me:

  1. Understand what you’re reading: It is by far the most important aspect of reading. You should never persist and go on reading without understanding the concepts that you previously absorbed. Use google or ask someone to explain them to you. More likely than not, the author of a book is going to build up on those ideas and the further you read the more difficult your understanding will be.
  2. Read slowly: When it comes to non-fiction, you should never overload your brain. Take it slow, read a chapter or two each day.
  3. Further investigations: When you find something interesting or you think it might be of use to you one day, try to go beyond what you read and make your own research on the matter.
  4. Take notes: Just the main ideas. Jot them down. Seriously, you won’t regret it.
  5. Recall what you read when you’re not actually reading: Take a walk, lay back on your bed without doing anything or listen to some calm music and try to remember the main ideas that you learned from the book or article or whatever. You don’t have to memorize everything to the letter. Just the main ideas.
  6. Explain or discuss what you read: This one is my absolute favorite. After I learned something new, I invite one of my friends for coffee or just chat with them online and tell them about what I learned. I’d explain the ideas to them and then consider their points of view on the matter in case they had one.

If you have any other approaches that I missed, then please, share them in the comments.

Cheers!

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A Mind For Number – Learning How To Learn Book Review

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Acquiring knowledge and learning became a passion of mine a couple of years ago. I would go around reading anything that I could lay my hands on, from Books and Articles to Signs and Boards in the streets. Alas, I was struggling with maintaining the things I learned. It seemed that only reading stuff wasn’t enough to expand your brain and be, well, knowledgeable. I grew quite frustrated and I almost gave up.. ALMOST. But I was saved.

Barbara Oakley is by far the best teacher I ever had and her story is as fascinating as her ideas. Before reading this book, I stumbled across her course on Coursera almost a year ago and it literally changed my life. While signing into the course, I didn’t expect to gain much out of it. I thought it will end up like most of the self-help articles, courses and books out there, but I’m glad I gave it a try and was proven wrong.

After finishing the course “Learning How to Learn” by this wonderful teacher. I came out with fresh eyes and a better understanding of how to make the most out of reading and learning. I noticed a huge change in the way I study. Whenever I’m talking to my friends about something I acquired, I was filled with glee and excitement on how concise and adequate I presented my findings.

I later picked up this book and devoured it like I devoured the course. It delves deeper into the concepts and techniques discussed in the course. Each chapter is packed with images, success stories and other people’s approaches to learning. You get sum-ups at the end of each chapter and one at the end of the book that sites all the good and bad habits of learning. There are even exercises to better acquaint you with them. Here are some of the ideas that this book addresses:

  • Recalling
  • Chunking
  • Using Diffuse and Focused modes and how to alternate between and use them.
  • Procrastination and how to deal with it
  • Memory and how to better make use of it
  • The best Tools to use

And so much, much more!

In my opinion, this book is a must-have for anyone looking to improve how they learn and grow. It is relatively short but compact with nuggets of pure information.