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What’s the best way to learn from a book?

 

Don’t keep reading it over and over. Read it and write a one page summary.

Via Daniel Coyle’s excellent book The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills:

Research shows that people who (wrote a summary) remember 50 percent more material over the long term than people who follow (repeatedly read). This is because of one of deep practice’s most fundamental rules: Learning is reaching. Passively reading a book— a relatively effortless process, letting the words wash over you like a warm bath— doesn’t put you in the sweet spot. Less reaching equals less learning.

On the other hand, closing the book and writing a summary forces you to figure out the key points (one set of reaches), process and organize those ideas so they make sense (more reaches), and write them on the page (still more reaches, along with repetition). The equation is always the same: More reaching equals more learning.

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About Eric Barker