Retaining and Applying What You Read: Tips for Effective Reading and Knowledge Retention

Sari Narida

Hatched by Sari Narida

Feb 16, 2024

4 min read


Retaining and Applying What You Read: Tips for Effective Reading and Knowledge Retention

Reading is a fundamental skill that we learn at a young age. From the moment we enter elementary school, we are taught to read for entertainment. We dive into fictional worlds, captivated by the stories and characters that come to life on the pages before us. However, as we grow older, the purpose of reading evolves. We start reading to inform ourselves, to gain knowledge and insights that can help us navigate the complexities of the world.

Reading to Inform is like skimming the surface of a vast ocean. We dip our toes in, diving in and out, getting a feel for the book or article, and grasping the main ideas. It's a superficial read that allows us to get the gist of things without delving too deep. While this level of reading may be sufficient for casual readers or those seeking a quick overview, it falls short when it comes to true comprehension and understanding.

Reading to Understand is where the real work begins. It requires a thorough reading, where we chew on the words, digest the information, and truly engage with the material. This level of reading is the workhorse of knowledge acquisition. It allows us to delve deeper into the subject matter, connect the dots, and gain a comprehensive understanding. It's the level of reading that separates the casual reader from the avid learner.

But what if we want to go even further? What if we want to master a topic, become an expert in a particular field? That's where Reading to Master comes into play. Synoptical reading, as it is often called, involves reading multiple books and articles on the same topic, finding and evaluating contradictions, and forming our own opinions. This level of reading ensures that we have a well-rounded understanding of the subject, leaving no blind spots in our knowledge.

Now that we understand the different levels of reading, how can we retain and apply what we read? Reading takes effort, and we need to choose where to apply that effort to get the best return. One way to do this is by connecting the authors' raw material to our existing knowledge foundation. Even if we start reading without any prior knowledge on the subject, we can borrow the scaffolding present in the book to get us started. As we progress through the reading, we can begin to make connections, bridging the gap between what we already know and what we are learning.

Another technique to enhance retention and application is active reading. This involves actively engaging with the material as we read. We can do this by highlighting key points, taking notes, and asking ourselves questions about the content. By actively participating in the reading process, we create a stronger connection to the material, making it easier to recall and apply later on.

Additionally, it's crucial to reflect on what we read. After finishing a book or article, take some time to think about the main ideas, insights, and lessons you gained from the reading. Consider how this new knowledge can be applied to your personal or professional life. Reflecting on what you have read not only solidifies your understanding but also helps you internalize the information and make it a part of your long-term memory.

In conclusion, reading is not just about consuming words on a page. It's about actively engaging with the material, making connections, and applying what we learn to our lives. By understanding the different levels of reading and implementing strategies like connecting to prior knowledge, active reading, and reflection, we can enhance our retention and application of what we read. So the next time you pick up a book, remember that it's not just about finishing it, but about truly understanding and internalizing the knowledge within.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Connect what you read to your existing knowledge. Look for ways to bridge the gap between new information and what you already know. This will help you make stronger connections and enhance your overall understanding.
  • 2. Engage in active reading by highlighting key points, taking notes, and asking yourself questions. This will make the reading process more interactive and improve your retention of the material.
  • 3. Take time to reflect on what you have read. Consider how the information can be applied to your life and think about the main insights and lessons you gained. This reflection will solidify your understanding and help you internalize the knowledge for the long term.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)