The Art of Reading to Remember

Reading to remember is important for avid readers and those who read occasionally, otherwise what is the point of reading?

Those who love to read thrive with their head in a book and devour plenty of them.

As it happens we forget 90% of what we read but, we don’t forget how it made us feel and this is the key to reading to remember.

I had a fight with a school friend 25 years ago. I don’t remember what caused the heated exchange but I can’t forget the hurt it caused.

We remember feelings if they are intense, both positive and negative.

When a poignant page becomes wet through tears I can feel a closeness to that book even after decades.  This is despite not  remembering specifically what was written on that page.


Why Is Remembering What We Read Important?

I have read masterpieces by many of the great writers, as I’m sure you have too!

Where you don’t remember every word and phrase in the book, you DO remember it being a truly unforgettable experience.

If we are going to take to time to read books, it is important that we retain the information else our time would be better spent doing other things.

Here are some steps you can take for reading to remember and increase your acuity.

reading to remember tips

3 Ways of Reading to Remember


Underline, Highlight or Write

Never start reading a book without a pencil in your hand or within your hand’s reach. (I don’t read a newspaper without having a scissor in proximity. I stupidly collect articles, dated and underlined in various files titled Technology, Society, Management, Entertainment, etc)

When reading to remember use a pencil to underline especially if the book is in small print.

Write in the margins things such as:  “Beautiful’, ‘Wonderful’, “Share it’  to keep me excited when I randomly revisit those pages.


It can be amusing to realise that I later don’t find those words as ‘beautiful’ or ‘wonderful’ as I found them the first time. Sometimes, I may find them more beautiful or insightful. It helps me to gauge the change in myself over the years.

If this is not enough, I write down the important page numbers on the empty page on the side of preface/foreword.  Those written page numbers help me five/ten years later to relive the same feeling.

When on a Kindle I highlight/note/email important paragraphs to myself.

Underlining is like touching an exquisite place of jewellery or appreciating the fabric of a new dress.

Writing in the margins is like neatly packing the jewellery or the dress for future use.

reading to remember


I have a bookshelf in my mind marked “interesting” and I put a few nuggets on it every-day.  I repeat these to my daughter, my husband, my students or my audience online or offline.

reading to remember with kids

I push myself to verbally share interesting and informative tidbits the very same day.  Try saying,  “I discovered a diamond in this statement/fact/anecdote today”.

Don’t feel awkward by the reaction which can range between a yawn or a clap (my daughter rolls her eyes often!). You did it for yourself. You repeated it to keep it in your mind longer and engage in reading to remember.

If you can’t anybody to share it with (they can be hard to find), write it the way I am writing it right now.

My advice is that children and subordinates are good prey!

Random Read

For keeping my mind active I generally read four to five books at one go. The more interesting ones reach the finishing line early while others languish, but I try to mix and match.

I will also re-read a book that I loved previously while I am reading 2 – 3 new books.  It keeps me connected with my feelings and helps me be actively reading to remember.

Re-reading is like visiting your old school gate or hugging an uncle after years.  There are so many floodgates of memories that get opened.

tips to reading to remember


If you are looking to be consciously reading to remember, my three pronged strategy might benefit you.

With so much information readily available via printed and online media it is important that we don’t waste our valuable time.  What is the point of taking the time to read something if you can’t recollect it 24 hours later?

Do you have a strategy that helps you remember what you read?  We would love to hear it!!