I can't only read something. I need to read something and then read it again and then tie it to another idea like a boat moored to a dock. All this happens through taking notes and my notes wind up in Evernote.
Jamie Rubin had another wonderful post about taking notes without marking up books, but his method isn't for me. For one, I have a free account that I don't want to fill up with photos and secondly, I don't like the way photos look. I want a single note with all the ideas from a book in a summary view that I can read easily.
The books I read fall into two camps and I use my notes differently with each. For hard copies, most of the books I'm reading are borrowed copies. I take the Mr. Money Mustache approach of viewing the public library as one we all share and can't mark them up, and I often don't want to, so what do I do.
My method involves paper and pencil. As I read a book, I'll write down ideas and page numbers on paper and then after a bundle of pages are sticking out the end of a book like arrows from a quiver, I'll transcribe them to Evernote. This is not an easy or quick process. It takes time to do this and I'm writing the same notes twice. But this second time is important.
The repetition matters because the more I play with this information, the more often I run through the words mentally, the more I remember them. If I'm reading the words, then writing the words, then typing the words I get exposed to them three times. Once They are in Evernote I also note the page I found them on.
For digital books I don't even bother with importing the notes to Evernote. When I'm reading a Kindle book, I mark it up with highlights and notes at a desner rate than paper books because it's too easy not to. The Kindle apps all allow a good set of searches for finding what I'm looking for and it's easy to copy, like say, for the quotes section of this blog.
<insert conclusion> Wait, stop the typing, what happened?!
And that's how this post was going to look. I was happy with how I was taking notes and then something changed - I got an iPhone 5s with iOS7. Wow.
The phone has been down right incredible and one of my favorite features is the dictation. Instead of handwriting an idea or typing it into Evernote, I dictate the direct quote. The accuracy of it is exemplary. It also makes taking notes nearly as easy as that on the Kindle.
Those are the ways I take notes on what I'm reading.
- Hand write notes and copy them into Evernote which lets me simmer on the information more.
- Type directly into Evernote or use the dictation feature.
- Directly highlight digital books and keep them out of Evernote because the Kindle services are good enough.