How to Retain More of What You Read

One of the most important things you can do to grow as a leader is to read voraciously. As I have written previously, “leaders are readers and readers are leaders.”

A Man Inserting a Memory Card into His Head - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/AustinArtist, Image #12040370

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/AustinArtist

I love learning, so this comes easily to me. My dad is a great example. Growing up, I noticed that he was always picking up a new hobby: model airplanes, photography, computers, etc. He usually started by buying a book or two on the subject and familiarizing himself with the basics. I have inherited this same habit.

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I have always underlined or a highlighted passages that I find particularly meaningful. (In a previous post I have detailed how I read non-fiction books, so I won’t repeat myself here.) I also write notes in the front of the book and in the margins. But this year I have taken my reading to a new level. I have learned a new technique for retaining more of what I read. Let me explain.

In January, I ?started a mentoring group with eight young men. This has been a fantastic experience. I am using a program called Next Generation Mentoring (NGM), developed by Regi Campbell, the author of Mentor Like Jesus.

As part of the program, we meet formally once a month for three hours. We share how things are going in our personal lives and work, recite scripture we have memorized, and pray together. However, the biggest chunk of our time is spent discussing a book that we have all read prior to the meeting.

In addition to reading the book, we have to write a one-page “Net Out” of the book. (Based on input from my initial commenters below, I have added an optional second page.) This exercise forces us to distill the key insights from the book and then determine what we are going to do differently in our lives as a result. Every man does his Net Out a little differently, but I divide mine into four sections, with an optional fifth.

  1. Bibliographic Heading. This includes the title of the book, the author(s), my name, and the date of my review.
  2. Quick Summary. This is a one-paragraph summary. It’s like an “elevator pitch.” If you had to tell someone what the book is about in a short elevator ride, what would you say? I usually find the book’s jacket copy helpful in distilling the essence of the book.
  3. Key Insights. As I am reading the book, I highlight it as usual. I usually find something worth highlighting every few pages. Then, when I am finished, I go back through the book, and record in my own words those items that particularly struck me. I usually end up with about two pages worth of insights. However, one of the NGM rules is that this document can be no more than one page—total. So I am forced to go back through my insights and cull the best ones. I also note the page number, so I can go back later and review the insight in more detail if I wish.
  4. Personal Application. This is the key. Some reading (like most fiction, for example) is purely for entertainment. However, this kind of reading is for application. I want it to change my life, even if it is only incremental. Therefore, I try to list two or three things I am going to do differently as a result of what I learned in the book. (I try to list no more than three.)
  5. Meaningful Quotes. In almost every book, the author says things in a way that are worth remembering. I like to identify these with the letter “Q” in the margin as I am reading and then and include them on second page of the Net Out. This isn’t a requirement, but I find it very helpful. I also enter these quotes into Evernote, which is my computer-based brain for remembering everything.

Again, the key is to distill this entire document into no more than a page (or, optionally, two pages with the Meaningful Quotes being on the second page or back of the first). The discipline of keeping it short makes the content easier to remember. As a result, I retain more of what I read.

Here’s an example (PDF file) from my most recent mentoring group. It is a Net Out for How to Really Love Your Child by D. Ross Campbell, M.D. I have also created an Apple Pages template, a Word template, and an Evernote template that makes the process easier. Once I have read the book, I can usually write-up the Net Out in 30–45 minutes.

I am not yet doing this for every book I read, but I can see the value of doing so. It is really a small price to pay to ensure that the content “sticks” and becomes more than a vague memory.

Question: What techniques do you employ to retain more of what you read? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Melody

    Great post, and very timely! I've read a number of good books recently (several on your recommendation, actually) but have been struggling with how to summarize them appealingly for friends and how to distill and harness the "good stuff" to have practical impact in my life. Thanks for this excellent idea! And I bet the group sharing aspect is another key factor toward real application…

  • http://www.reactlove.com/ lance Morgan

    Michael,

    Thank you so much for posting this blog. These tips are going to help me a lot, retaining what I read, because I too read a lot.

    Thanks again.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Sounds like a great idea. Will have to try it.

    For me, I read and highlight and put notes in the margins, etc. I also use codes like an A in a circle to signify "Action Step" or a Q for a "Good Quote" or GC for "Game Changer" idea. Once I am done with the book then I go back through and compile notes based on my codes so that they are categorized by type. I list page numbers, etc as well. I also normally end each chapter with a synopsis note to pull out the key ideas that spoke loudest to me. I write it in the book if there is space. I sometimes copy those summaries to my note pad as well or just give a general summary of the book overall with at least 3 key take-away points that I want to apply. I've found that through the repetition of the writing that I tend to retain more. Almost burns it into my brain and having the notes to look back on provides easy access when I am looking for something specific or just a refresh later.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree on the repetition of the writing. That helps me remember, too.

      I like your note-taking symbols. One thing I need to do is a better way to capture and index notes. You’ve given me an idea here. Thanks, Daniel.

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Ben Lichtenwalner

      Great points Daniel. Like you, I use codes in the margins for quick reference later. I often find myself wanting to reference material later in a book and this helps me find it quickly. The codes I use are as follows:
      1. SL = Specific to my servant leadership writing (by blog site)
      2. Work = Specific to application in my daily work
      3. Company Codes = I use a 3 letter character code for each company I've worked for or advised when I read something that specifically reminds me of the environment, culture or leadership there.
      4. Stars = I find myself highlighting a lot, so I use a number of stars to emphasize the quality / importance.

  • http://musicroad.blogspot.com kerry dexter

    I take notes on paper rather than highlighting and marking in the book itself, for two main reasons: when I come back to a book months or years later, I can come at it with fresh insight, and if I wish to give or lend the book to another, that allows them to do the same.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Thanks for sharing your tips, Mike. I'll have to check out the NGM program… sounds interesting. I like to listen to audio books, so I usually buy most books in that format to start with. Since I have a long commute, I finish almost every audio book that I start in a few days. This is a much greater success rate than I have actually reading books. If I like a book in audio format and need to apply what I learned, I usually pick up a written copy or a Kindle copy. I actually like the Kindle or iBook format better, since I can search for keywords.
    Then I usually blog about the book or subject. The act of writing cements the ideas in my brain. The way that I know this works, is that many times I'll give a speech at Toastmasters after blogging about it. Since I've had to think about it and write it down, the points come roaring back in my brain. The other cool thing is I can just print out my blog post for a quick reference. If I am going to use the material in a group discussion, I will take along a note taking template, which allows me to take quick notes and then create next actions from them.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I do the same thing. I listen to most books while I am running or on my commute. Then, if I like it, I buy the Kindle or iBook edition and skim back through it, highlighting as I go.

  • http://www.kathyfannon.com Kathy Fannon

    Wow! You always have such great tips and ideas. This will help me tremendously as I study this next year. My biggest fear is that I won't remember anything.

    Thank you, Michael!

    • http://www.kathyfannon.com Kathy Fannon

      My dad has always been a highlighter and note taker and I read books similiar to his style. But I love the idea of writing out the elevator pitch to condense the important points to concise understanding. Writing a 'book report' creates deeper thinking about the book rather than glossing over and moving on.

      I also love Daniel's code ideas!

  • Jodi W

    This is fabulous, I really like the one page review idea and some of the comments have good insight as well. I have to admit that lately I've been reading across several books and having a hard time remembering where things came from. Who would have thought that going back and doing literature review work, just like in college, would actually work in real life!

    On another note, how often do you use a kindle or ereader? I've read your reviews of the devices and am considering going with a kindle (For the car rider line/travel/etc) but I'm not sure if it's the route that would work best or not.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am using a Kindle for about half my reading. I’d use it for the other half, but the books aren’t always available—like the one I reviewed here, for example.

  • http://fghart.wordpress.com Fran

    These are great tips. I've found that the books I review stay with me longer than the books I simply read. Although I retain a sense of whether I liked the book and why, I don't always retain the content. In order to retain more, I try to pace myself so I have a chance to digest what I'm reading. Ultimately the discussion portion should not be minimized (i.e. maybe Step 5 is "Talk about it"). For books that I really like (or dislike) I talk about them. The more I talk about them, the more I find the key points sticking with me. I'll try the NGM approach as a way to retain more through conscious effort.

  • http://keithjennings.typepad.com/keitharsis Keith Jennings

    Like John Richardson said in his comment, I listen to a lot of audio books given my commute. I keep a digital voice recorder in my car, I record key passages then make a few comments to myself as to how it's applicable. I typically transcribe these and file them for future reference.

    Another technique that works for me is I write a book review for my blog or another publication that serves as a future reference for me.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I do the same with my blog. I also listen to a lot of audio books. If I like it, however, I usually buy the e-book (preferably) or the p-book.

  • srivera

    I will implement this! Thanks Michael.
    Like Daniel I also use 'coding' Quote (Q) Story (S) To Do (TD) Etc…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like the coding idea, too.

  • http://www.parentbooksummaries.com Greg Harris

    Nice format for your summaries. One other section I'd add would be 'quotables.' When I'm preparing talking points or remarks often I'll remember an idea but not an exact quote and I'll need to go through the whole book to find it. Adding the 2-3 top quotes from the book would allow me just to review the summary.

    Another technique to retain more of what I read is to tell someone about the book. After 2-3 times telling people about what I've learned, it tends to stick with me longer.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The Quotables idea is great. I could see adding this to the back of the page. It would make it a two-page report, but I think it would be worth it. Thanks for the idea!

    • http://blog.presentationadvisors.com Jon Thomas

      Thanks Michael! It was an easy sell to get me to download the template, and I like Greg's tip as well to have a "Quotables" section. When I read through a book I always like to retain quotes to use in blog posts and Twitter.

      Jon Thomas

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I just added that and uploaded a new template. You might want to download that as well.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Vicariousness is attempting to live our your life through your child.

    • http://www.therextras.com BarbaraBoucher PTPhD

      Thanks! Makes sense.

  • http://twitter.com/MeganEBurns @MeganEBurns

    I was pleased to read your post this morning, as I had just written a post a couple weeks ago on a similar topic. I completely agree that if you want to lead people and grow, you need to read and have meaningful conversations with other people. I think the trap many fall into is they try to cram as many books into a month or year as possible instead of, as you indicate here, looking at what can I learn from this book and how can I apply it in my life. It's that application that is so desperately missing. I like the format that you outline above. The one thing I would add that you alluded to, is to make sure you have some form of accountability. So when you say that you're going to make a change or try something new, you actually do and can share the results with someone who is invested in you.

    I also like Daniel's codes (A, Q, GC) and will begin testing both of these ideas tonight.
    Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Foe me, the accountability comes with my mentoring group. Not only do I hold them accountable, but I feel accountable to them.

  • http://mightyanchor.com/blog Andrew S.

    As someone who reads a lot, I love this! It's a great idea that will help me not only remember, but also communicate what I've read to others. Thanks!

  • Tom Jamieson

    Great Post! I've been doing more reading recently as I have been hearing a lot lately about "leaders read and readers lead." So this is a great resource/tool to help me distill and remember what I read. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Ben Lichtenwalner

    For Audio Books (somewhat similar to John & Keith's comments above):
    1. Digital Recorder for Notes: I also use a digital recorder to capture quotes and key points while listening to audio books on long commutes. I also use the digital recorder for transcribing blog posts and emails using Dragon Naturally Speaking, so it's always in use. Those with an iPhone can use the DNS app or the Voice Memo app.

    2. Note the Disc & Time: If I do not have the means for digital recording, I note the disc & time, etc. to reference key sections.

    3. Favorite Quotes: Today, I just posted a collection of my favorite quotes for leaders. This process not only helps me remember the best quotes but also enables me to share highlights with others.

    4. Reviews: Like others, although not yet shared publicly, I work on a collection of book reviews. This process helps me summarize what I've learned and how the book helped or influenced me. However, I only review books I value.

    5. Repeat: Audio books are perfect for repetition. Often there is a need for me to "brush up" on material from my favorite books. For example, if I am entering a serious negotiation, I may listen to my books on negotiating win-win solutions. My favorite books I've probably listened to at least 4 times now.

    I've never actually summarized a book in the format you use with NGM and look forward to trying it. I wish I lived in the area and joined your NGM group. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      These are excellent suggestions, Ben. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  • http://guymwilliams.net guy m williams

    excellent. I've long worked at finding the best "take-away" system for all I read. This, plus some of the comments puts me on a better path. The only contribution I would have is that sometimes I simply snap a pic from my iPhone of a book page that I had to capture and file it in Evernote. easy and brainless, so not great for retention, but good for capturing and filing for later.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love the photo feature of Evernote. I often use it to snap business cards. I have not thought to use it in the way you suggest, so I’ll have to give that a try. Thanks.

      • http://guymwilliams.net guy m williams

        yep, it's especially helpful for capturing direct quotations for talks/presentations/writing. thanks for the tip for business cards — allows me to pitch them quicker!

  • http://www.localbusinessmarketingcoach.com Bill Bulloch

    Great post! I went through the NextGen program a year or so ago and loved it. The books we read were mostly ones I wouldn't have chosen for myself, but the net-outs certainly helped them to be more meaningful. Glad to hear you are enjoying the program as much as I did!

  • http://www.d2design.com Paul Loyless

    Thanks for the great post. The one-page "Net Out" is a brilliant idea.

    I currently highlight while i read upon completion i create a "contact" in outlook where i record the date that i read the book and list my favorite quotes and section of text. Need to add the one pager.

  • dmbaldwin

    Thank you Mike for a great post. I'm meeting once a month with seven guys. We are going through Andy Stanley's book, "Visioneering". I try to meet one-on-one outside the meeting too, like for breakfast or lunch. That's been hard to do. It has been a great opportunity to pour into these guys lives. Two of them I am working with in helping lead the other five. They have appreciated that as well.

    Many blessings,

    Dave

  • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com Laurinda

    I retain information based on how I ponder it as a I read. I do take lots of notes as a read a book thinking of how it applies to my life. But I also think of how I would teach the principle to 1. someone in authority over me 2. to a peer 3. to a subordinate and finally 4. to a second grader (this is the hardest) I did this even in grad school (engineering major). Forcing myself to 'teach" it to such a varied audience really helps dig all the nuggets out of it. I found it helps in memory retention too.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      There is nothing like teach something to make you learn it. Great points!

  • http://eastofparis.blogspot.com Jasmina

    I like the template on how to approach summarizing a good book and selecting take-away action items. It also reminded me of my Dad, who used to say you can learn something from everything you read. When he'd see me reading a "trashy novel" he'd raise his eye brows and then tell me to pay attention to the grammer and punctuation … how is the writer expressing ideas and how is he/she getting the reader "hooked."

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      So true. I think it is easy to be a critic. It takes more creativity to find something worth applying.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    One of my pastor friends, fills books with post-it notes. He then hands the book to his assistant to transcribe the quotes. The cool thing about Kindle is that you can export your highlights to a separate text file. It is a very handy feature.

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Michael,

    I'm big on note-taking, highlighting and re-reads of small sections which resonate with me. Most idea seeds from books take root through repetition.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.

    Ryan Biddulph

  • Dalene

    Michael,
    Thank you for your post. I'm focusing more on the details of your notes, as a mother of a 3 yr old son & 8 month old daughter! As always, a pleasure to keep up with your blog,
    Dalene

  • http://forrest-long.blogspot.com Forrest Long

    I have always been a voracious reader with several books on the go continually. Some I just breeze through, but others I underline, make notations and arrows, etc. for emphasis of importance. And for some books I read with a notebook and write down important things that I can quickly go back to. Sometimes they are things I want to use on my blog or save for future writing projects. If a book is really good I'll remember with all these things. Thanks for you post today- it is good!

  • http://www.BobandTinaFarewell.com Tina Farewell

    Great article! I have used similar methods for years.

    When reading antique books, I mark the margin with a pencil dot. I simply write in newer books. I then put the page number and one-line summary or quote on a Post-It note in the front of the book. This gives the quick reference I need for future writing or speaking. If I’m inspired to read aloud a passage, I can easily grab the book from shelf and know where to find it.

    After reading Louis L’Amour’ s autobiography, EDUCATION OF A WANDERING MAN, in which he shares his reading list for several years, I began keeping a Reading Journal in a little blank book. Because it is small and not intimidating, I keep it up to date. I typically list the basics about the book, highlight a quote or two, maybe write a review, and the date I finished reading it. What a pleasure to glance over it to see the books that shaped me.

    As a bookseller (we used to own Lifetime Books and Gifts and sold many books to Gail at the Nashville homeschool convention), I heartily appreciate the following quote by Christopher Morley: “When you sell a man a book you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life.” It’s so true, if people take time to read well.

  • http://twitter.com/byronhill @byronhill

    Good post with practical steps. Thanks. One thing that I've found helpful is use the highlight function on my iPad Kindle app. I can then go back and easily pull up everything I highlighted. Much easier than having to thumb thru the pages of a book.

  • http://www.buzzshift.com Eddy

    Michael – your "net-out" template is SO useful. Thanks so much for sharing your processes and your insights into reading, mentoring, and being a good leader.

    • http://thesecretofmillion.blogspot.com/ TheSecretOfMillion

      I agree with Eddy's comment …. really you are fantastic Michael … you have wonderful way in writing.
      I'm very happy because i finally found a nice blog like yours.

  • http://www.itsworthnoting.com Levi Smith

    Appreciate the post.

    Microsoft's OneNote is a great app for this process too. You can take advantage of various tagging icons and a full rich text editor. Search is also very good and you can view summaries of notes by how you tag them.

    I'm finding eReaders like my Kindle to help here too. Their highlights site is very easy to use and makes it easy for me to review highlights and notes and share them with others by just copying and pasting.

  • http://Kentsanders.net Kent Sanders

    I recently purchased an iPad, which has been incredibly useful, but I am hesitant to start buying and reading ebooks. I know that in various e-readers (iBooks included) you can highlight passages much as a regular books, and that you can notate passages, etc. But how would export your comments and questions that you've made while reading an e-book? With e-books, I'm concerned that you can't interact with the text as you can with a paper book, and therefore retain your notes and observations. I'm also concerned about buying an e-book and not being able to access it in 10 years as you can a paper book. With buying digital music, at least you can make a backup CD; you can't really do that with a digital book. I guess that overall, an e-book seems so…impermanent.

    I would welcome any comments or observations!

    • ruach

      if you see my reply below, you will see that you can interact with the book by highlighting but it is not as easy as it should be

      • http://kentsanders.net Kent Sanders

        Read your note below – thanks for the info!

  • ruach

    I would be very interested in how you make this work with your kindle highlights. I have been using the new kindle for a few months now and find the text file that kindle creates to be awkward. Periodically, I have to go thru and separate highlights for each book and then copy/paste into a word document that I create for each book.

    There must be a better way. I just downloaded ever note to see if that will be useful. I am using Refworks as a tool recently since I am a doctoral student and it is useful as well–but not free

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  • http://www.48Days.net Dan Miller

    While all the new electronic readers are marvelous for scanning current news I still find that I can't help gravitating back to physical books for any serious reading. I love the feel, turning the pages and seeing them on my shelves. For reading I highlight the sections that seem especially pertinent to me at that time. Then I add a small yellow post-it-tab to the page. Two years later I can pull that book off the shelf and have a quick reference for the passages I considered important at the time of initial reading. Not only can I draw morsels for my own writing – I also get constant reminders of my own journey by recognizing a perhaps different perspective now.

  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony J Alicea

    I'm leading a discipleship group for the institute classes in my church. We will be reading and discussing a book. Your ideas here are excellent. I may be using your template for our classes.

    Thanks so much Michael!

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I know I should do these things in order to make my reading more efficient—but for some strange reason, I can't get myself to write in, highlight in, or dogear the pages of a book. The fact that I own the overwhelming majority of books I read and thus have a right to use them anyway I please makes no difference. I just can't do it. I suppose I always carry in the back of my mind the possibility that I may loan to someone or be forced to sell some or all of my books at some point, and future readers shouldn't have to contend with my personal highlights, notes, and dogears.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have a friend who feels similarly. He also refused to break the back of paperbacks. You are not alone in your reverence for books!

  • sbarkley

    I like the idea. I started a document I call Life Principles. I add key ideas to it from various books/articles that I read. My goal is to present this to my children one day. I always enjoy your posts.

  • Marilyn

    Just want to take a minute to make a HUGE plug for one of the books you mention in this post – Ross Campbell's How To Really Love Your Child. In a sea of books on "discipline techniques for Christian parents," Campbell's titles really stand out.

    Prior to a move about ten years, we attended a church that gave this book as a baby present to new parents. If only there were more evangelical churches advocating Campbell's balanced approach to parenting. . .

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  • http://www.zipboxmedia.com J @sell music online

    Do you have an ipad? I'm beginning to love digital copies of books because its so easy to highlight, bookmark, and cross-reference. It does the organizing for you. I love it. Great tips.

  • Kingsly

    Very Useful!! Will Follow…Thanks

  • Guest

    Great stuff. I'm trying to figure out how to approach a new men's ministry our church is starting. We were talking about doing accountability groups, but I believe the mentoring approach you referred to is more of what we are looking for. I need to look into NGM and Mentor Like Jesus.

    As an aside, I was reading through your example PDF for How to Really Love Your Child, and you have a typo on the first quote page 2 (fee;ing instead of feeling).

  • http://twitter.com/jessemax @jessemax

    This is awesome…I wish I had read this before I started seminary. My reading over the past 3 years has greatly increased and so has my making in books. It'll be great to have a better system of marking and summary.
    Thanks for the post and the many wonderful ideas in the replies (I haven't finished them all yet).

  • http://www.vincenzovecchio.it Vincenzo Vecchio

    Thanks for sharing.
    I do something similar but it is not systematic as your approach! I believe that even simple good sense can make a difference if you have a systematic approach!

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  • Chew

    thank you for the template. The template is great help! I usually use the post-it notes, and scribble quotations, page number and any of my own thoughts as I read a particular chapter. Then at the end of it, I will go back to all the post-it notes pasted in the book and make a review out of it.

  • http://simplelifehabits.com Jonathan

    This is a great post and something I have been working on as well. I love to read but I often wonder how much retaining is going on. Am I applying what I have learned? Is it truly changing my thinking? At the beginning of this month I adopted a practice that has worked well so far. I bought on of those 4 colors in one pen that Bic sells. The colors are green, blue, red, and black. Each represent a different meaning for me and then I compile everything in a summary like mentioned about with the "net out"

    Black – key insights, principles
    Green – habits that I need to start & application steps I need to take
    Red – warnings & things I need to stop doing
    Blue – meaningful quotes and great illustrations

    This has really helped me to read differently.

  • http://www.mightyrasing.com Mighty

    I usually write on the edges of the book's page and when I need to go back to something I remember from the book, all I have to do is to flip through it and find where I've written or underlined something. But having a mentoring group that reads books sounds like a good idea!

  • andrew

    Thanks for this post, it is always good to understand someone else reading habits and review and formulate your own reading pattern.

    Before starting to read a book, I quickly flip through the book and review the index, check graphs, pictures etc and create a mindmap. I print the mindmap and keep it with the book. While reading the book, I add additional information to the mindmap, quotes are added in the margin of the mindmap. After completing the book, I update the mindmap (I'm using Xmind for creating mindmaps).

    As a personal information system, I use Treepad software. I have a page per book i've read, which incorporates the mindmap and some bullet points on how the book information affects me and a follow-up on action points.

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  • http://familysynergy.wordpress.com JD Eddins

    This has been one of the most helpful posts I have read. Thanks for sharing the example of how you do this, it has really added to my reading experience.

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  • http://www.dwaynes--world.blogspot.com Dwayne Morris

    Like you I never read without a pen in my hand. Some sources say you can read faster if you have a “leader” (something to sort of pull your eyes across the text a little faster than usual.) I mark my books up a good bit with underlines, comments, and parallel phrases that help make it stick. Then, I go back through the book and either circle the object or key word of the statement or write it in the margin. My next step is to create my own alphabetical index based on the object or key word. I print this and paste it on as many blank pages the book provides. This makes it easy to find material for blogs and talks. If a whole phrase is good, I’ll add a star and capture the whole thing, not just the key word.

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  • Andrea

    Hmmn, just re-read this and realized you are missing an opportunity here. How about putting your Net Outs into Evernote? Now that you can copy notes in Evernote, you could just create a template and rock and roll the summaries!

    Cheers,

    andrea

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great suggestion. I need to build the template and start using it.

  • Anonymous

    Chris Patton just linked me to this from your post by Hybels.  It’s a great followup.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EWBNZ6YNARCYIV25PXS7HQZAEY Justin

    Thanks for this post.  I never did know how to summarize a great book that I just read.  By the way, the first quote in your example has a misspelling.  I love the front and back of quotes.  I use quotes a lot.

  • Troy

    Thanks so much for a very practical and helpful post. I love keeping quotes and have started keeping them in Evernote. Could you share how you organize the quotes in Evernote? Are they in a singular quote notebook , tagged by author, subject, etc. or what?

    Troy

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have them in a notebook called “Resources.” It includes all of my illustrations, quotes, jokes, etc. I tag them with “quotes.” I don’t use any other tag, since Evernote indexes every word in the quote any way. Thanks.

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  • http://twitter.com/romanalo Ro Manalo

    Thank you! This is very helpful! I need to tackle shelves full of unread books. I’m excited to do a Net Out for the books I’ll be reading this year.

    Thanks also for the Net Out of How To Really Love Your Child. I hope to find a copy here in Manila.

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  • http://www.spch.org.au/ Bren McLean

    ‘Net-out’. Love the suggestion!
    I have always wanted to do some sort of summary for books I read, and now I have a template that is tried and true.

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  • http://junhax.com/ Paul Jun

    Nice post. I, too, also love highlighting, writing down quotes or witty phrases.

    I also became a recent fan of the Kindle app for my Mac and on my iPhone. For some reason it feels that I can read through Kindle books in one sitting, opposed to holding a paperback.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love paperback. I wanted to buy Art of War by Steven Pressfield but didn’t feel like paying $50 for the book (although after reading it, it was definitely worth it, I think). I bought the Kindle version, and surprisingly, I read the book in one shot. I know it’s a succinct book, but I was just overall surprised how easy it is to read Kindle-style books because I can make the font so large.

    It made me question if what I’m reading on the Kindle is helping me retain what I read, opposed to holding a paperback. Hmmmmm. Thoughts? Anyone else ever feel this way?

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  • Matt McWilliams

    Great ideas Michael. A friend of mine and I just started a book club. Reading to share and reading to read are different. I also highlight, take notes, then format in an easy to read format. Then we share. Sometimes he catches stuff I missed and vice versa. Plus sharing our takeaways and applications really helps us to remember stuff.

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  • http://www.hookang.com/ Hoo Kang

    Michael,

    Thank you. I am definitely going to start doing this.

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  • loveseeds@aol.com

    i just cant believe that i been reading this manual and taking tests on the computer and as yet got a 100% and i ended up missing up the answers that i knew because i feel so insecure about what i read, it seems as i read the question and when i answer it i mess it up because “i did not actually read it like it is shown” so i mess up my test, i have a test to take and i want to pass and even though iam studing a lot for it? but i think iam studing it wrong! i should know all the answer by now, i been like this all my life, iam not stupid i just do not like to read i do not read a lot when i do i skip through it so iam a mess i want to pass this test so bad, any suggestions on how i can read and understand what iam reading and not to read somenthing else into it? i wish i could wave a wanda to change my self, but i know i need help! it would make me so happy to be able to conquer this, i have till june to take the test

    thanks

    ps

    i wont be able to buy any books or cassets i cant afford it! so i need a verbal help and suggestion on how i can retain what iam reading and understand it!

    sincerely

    angela

  • Kathryn

    Writing a one-page “Net-Out” seems very useful in retaining, speaking, and applying the information. When I read, I will start writing “Net-Out’s” and, hopefully, make it a habit. Thank you Mr. Hyatt.

  • Shawn Johnson

    Thanks for this post!! Great ideas that I need in order to retain more and have a quick review process