Hello Friends,

Happy Monday. Thank you for subscribing to my weekly newsletter ‘Mindful Mondays with Arijit’. This week, let’s reflect on our reading habits.

I was always a voracious reader. Books bring me joy, and sometimes I read just for the sake of reading. In my childhood the books I read were mostly fiction, written in Bengali, my mother tongue. Through the reading of fiction, I used to experience the setting and the characters’ journey. In my teens, I mostly read Bengali classics. I grew up curving more than just the classics. I used to spend time reading magazines, little-magazines (mostly avant-garde, non-commercial writing by aspiring writers). My first reading in English was also fiction. I often experience emotional delight through well-written fiction.

I began reading non-fiction much later. I have never been a fan of watching television. The idea of binge watching never appealed to me. My joy comes from reading books or listening to Audible stories. As a reader, non-fiction helped me find my identity. I was always attracted to fiction for its emotional appeal and relaxation most of the time. By reading non-fiction books, I actually started learning more about different topics and gaining a deeper understanding of them. In my younger age I often read non-fiction books cover to cover as if they were fiction books. Eventually I realized that reading nonfiction is very different from reading fiction. Nonfiction reading requires a variable pace. Some pages we may want to read quickly, while other pages we may want to read slowly and reflect on the words. When I want to learn more about a new word, I use glossaries or seek more details on the internet.

Although I was learning at a fast pace, the retention rate of my knowledge from non-fiction was low. It was then that I came across German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve theory. Most people tend to forget around half of what they read in the first few hours. Only a fraction of what we read is retained.

To deal with the downward slope of the forgetting curve, I started writing notes in the margins of the books and leaving sticky notes. By writing notes, I was able to slow down the forgetting curve. My habit was to review the notes after I had finished reading the non-fiction books and reflect on them for a day or two. Taking notes in paper books was good for comprehension, but the notes I took could not be searched. Eventually, I started reading ebooks and I learned to highlight, take notes quickly, and scan through my notes whenever I needed. 

Recently, I decided to publish my book notes on my website. Taking notes for learning is different from taking notes for creating content. Until now, most of my book notes have been factual or simple quotes from the book. It served as a good memory jogger for me. To publish my book notes, I need to reread books and make detailed notes so others can grasp it. The link below will take you to my Book Notes page.


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