(This is just a personal reflection about reading to remember).
All of my adult life, first in ministry, and now in this chapter of my life as a business speaker/trainer/book briefer/consultant, I have had an extensive library. I would read a book, think of a quote I needed, or a section of a book to re-visit, and I would walk to my shelves and pull the book down. I had always read with my pen in hand, underlining, writing in the margins, arguing with, agreeing with, disagreeing with the words of the author.
I would remember what I read by those musings in the margins, and those underlinings. Sometimes, I would “double underline,” or even “triple underline” when a passage really got my attention. Reading a book was a very interactive process – and I would remember by what I wrote. I remember what comment I wrote, what my interaction looked like — literally, what it looked like. Though I would not remember the page number, I would remember the part of the book (near the beginning, near the end), the side of the page (on the left page – the left margin, half-way down).
My markings were my tools to remember.
I miss that.
The advantages of reading on my Kindle App on my iPad are many, but I have lost my primary tool to remember. And, to be honest, I find the highlighting feature great, but not great enough. I want to write in the margin, argue with the author. And the “note’ feature does not allow my personality to come through, or my memory to be stamped in the same way.
And, by the way, I no longer even have a “page” to remember. I set the books on large font, and read quickly – but, there is no page “look” to remember. Every book looks exactly the same in the Kindle App.
Now, this post is simply something of a lament. I can’t go back – I do love the Kindle App reading experience. The convenience trumps the other considerations. But…
So, here is how I remember these days. On the books that I read to present (at the First Friday Book Synopsis, at the Urban Engagement Book Club, for a client…), I prepare extensive handouts. And, my handouts have become my memory. When I go back to look at a quote, it is not in the book, it is on my handout. When I go back to look at a section, it is not in the book that I check first, it is on my handout. My handouts have saved me.
But, I sure do miss my margin musings.
And, by the way, I used to pull those books down from the shelf and show my marked pages to others as we discussed a book. Those days are gone also…
Progress makes things better, but some things, some important things, are lost in the process.
So, my fellow Kindle and Kindle App readers, how do you remember what you read? (And for those of you who do have one of those really remarkable, almost photographic memories – well,… just know that I envy you).
Here are some images to compare/contrast (forgive the shadows, and lights — I’m a reader, but definitely not much of a photographer).