How To Retain Reading

Originally published on 15 February 2007.

In the article Efficient Reading [via], there’s a little nugget of wisdom that comes, via several steps, from Jason Womack over at David Allen’s company.

I find reading to be one of my least efficient processes; I read non-fiction like fiction and don’t retain it, or I stop in the middle of a chapter and lose my thoughts when I come back to it. Jason’s technique is one that I ran across in my student days, but it bears repeating with the applicability to any non-fiction reading.

The technique involves making four passes at the book:

  1. Read the table of contents, glossary, index [and mine: the introduction to the book]
  2. In the chapter you wish to read, read the titles, subtitles, and captions
  3. Read the first line of every paragraph
  4. Read the entire section

The theory is that multiple exposures to the material makes it more likely to be retained.