Warpspeed Reading for Hacking Retention of Book Knowledge

Here’s a problem that I think anyone can relate to who reads a lot; if we are honest you forget the vast majority of the information you spend so much time consuming. You spend 10–20 hours consuming 300–400 pages. How much of it are you actually going to commit to memory, recall when you need it and apply?

I was listening to a podcast lately and the guy was saying that reading dense none fiction books is pointless because, your retention of the information presented is so little compared to the time it takes to read the book.
Which I think is a little pessimistic, we know on a foundational level that reading is important because really successful people are always talking about how much they read. However, it’s true that we do forget the majority of what we read. 5 years ago I read probably 6 of Donald Trump’s books about business and if someone asked me to summarize the points of each book off the top of my head, I probably couldn’t do it!

I’ve got a cool technology lifehack for this problem that takes advantage of the ‘memory spacing effect’.

It requires Kindle (either the App or the device), Evernote and an App called Spritz

How it works:

I read in Kindle and highlight passages that I want to remember or find actionable.
When I finish a book, I open up the Kindle desktop reader, and copy/paste my highlights into an Evernote note in a Books Notebook. If a book is particularilly good it gets it’s own Evernote Note, if not I just put it in a general note.
I have a shortcut on my Android homescreen for this Notebook, so it’s just a tap (or click) away from me at any moment.
Spritz is a free App for your smartphone or Google Chrome that allows you to read at 500–1000 words per minutes via rapid serial presentation of words (it’s pretty rad actually). With just a little practice you’ll be able to drastically increase the speed at which you can speed read. Obviously, your reading comprehension of brand new material takes a hit speed reading at this velocity, but we are just reviewing material that we’ve already read at normal speeds, which Spritz works great for.

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From my smartphone I just ‘Share’ the note to the Spritz app (For Android I recommend an A Faster Reader) which then super speed reads me the note.
I’m a pretty liberal highlighter of the books I read and it takes me maybe 60 seconds to speed review my favorite parts an entire book. I do a lot of super speed reading while on the toilet.

A few important points:

  • Yes, it takes about 5 tedious minutes of copying and pasting the quotes to my Evernote note, but if I can significantly improve the retention of the knowledge in a book that I spent 10–20 hours consuming it’s 5 minutes well spent!
  • Kindle’s desktop software can also show you the most popular highlighted passages of a given book by other Kindle readers, which I frequently check after reading a book, sometimes there will be some real gems of knowledge that I skimmed over, so you could totally crowdsource the selection method of the passages.

Written by

Adventuring philosopher, Pompous pontificator, Writer, K-Selected Biohacker, Tantric husband, Raconteur & Smart Drug Dealer 🇺🇸

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