We all have a favourite book, one that we have read many times and that always makes us have a good time, or leads us to think or provokes interesting conversations with other people. However, we are not always able to remember precisely some of the things we have read in that book, or in a newspaper report that we liked. We read something that interests us, but then we tend to forget a good part of it.
There are ways that we can remember better than we have just read. We do not have to face a text as if we were going to study it for an exam, but there are recommendations that we can follow to improve our retentive capacity when we read.
UNDERSTAND THE PILLARS OF MEMORY
The keys to remember information that we just received are based on the three principles of memory: printing, association and repetition. Our brain recognises better what "impresses" it, that generates in it some remarkable image or sensation. We remember the things that have made a particular impression on us, and we use the imagination to create associations that make it easier for us to remember certain things that, until then, were unknown to us.
The association refers to the connection of this new information that we are receiving with something we already know. Familiarity with the topic we are reading is crucial for our brain to retain more. Our brain remembers better what you are already familiar with, so if we learn something entirely new to us, it will be harder for us to retain it.
The third pillar on which memory rests is repetition. If we read the same passage several times, we will most likely remember it later. These three principles are also behind our retentive capacity when facing a new text, which we have to become more familiar and closer to us. For that reason, it is usually advised that we imagine doing some of the things that are told in that text, or that we associate them with something we already know, or that we highlight passages and take notes.
LEARN HOW TO READ ATTENTIVELY
There are four different levels of reading: elementary, inspection, analytical and syntonic.
Elementary level: At this level, we get introduced to the book and know what does it say? It is the first contact with the reading material or a book.
Level of inspection: What is the book about? The reader has to extract all possible information from the surface of the book, looking for the chapters that seem fundamental, trying to classify it from its title and its preface, estimating the breadth of topics through its index, etc.
Analytical level: What does the book mean? It is a more systematic reading and involves the underlining of some passages, the taking of notes in the margins, notes on the concepts handled in the book and on its structure.
Syntopical level: How does this book compare with others? The reader uses his previous readings to analyse the work in question looking for a typical terminology, defining the treated topics, looking for the most relevant passages. It is the most active level among all the levels.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
The most common advice, if we want to remember better what we read, is always "pay attention”. The concentration on the task we are doing obviously increases the chances of our brain receiving an impression, associating it with something we already know, and ending up remembering it with a couple of repetitions. However, there may be external, environmental conditions that favour in-depth reading more, which help us to concentrate.
There are many recommendations in this regard since we change our place from time to time, so our brain does not adapt. Being relaxed is also very important before we start reading because it gives us the more magnificent facility to memorise and understand what we read. The environment is essential to help us acquire that relaxation and concentration that will facilitate our ability to retentive reading.
TIPS TO REMEMBER WHAT WE READ
Some tricks can help us remember better what we are learning, or what we have just read. Above all, what will benefit is that we pay attention to the book or text that we have in hand.
- Find a quiet place, with good lighting and where you can read comfortably.
- Do not worry about being the fastest to read the book; Each person has a different reading speed to understand what they are reading.
- Highlight the passages of the text that interest you. It can be done underlining or, in digital readers, changing the typography of those phrases so that they stand out more about the rest.
- Look for associations of what you are reading with events that have happened to you.
- Take notes of what is most interesting to you, or what you want to remember.
- When you finish a chapter, for example, make a summary of what you have just read to check how much you remember.
By implementing some or all points written in this article, you will surely be able to retain what you read.