Reading books and taking notes

While reading books (and especially technical ones) I always get the feeling that I forget the content basically 5 minutes after I’ve read it. This is completely independent of the quality of the writing or the actual content of the book, so it’s more related to the way I consume it than what the author(s) had produced.

For this reason and after reading some note-taking books (where I obviously already forgot the details but at least retained the broad concepts) I’ve tried started taking notes while reading the books or at least someone summarise them after finishing them. Initially I thought that Obsidian or some other digital tool might be a good place for that since I always have it with me, but I somehow cannot stand that format for this kind of notes. Typing on a virtual keyboard (or even a physical one) while reading something just feels wrong to me and it’s hard to doodle down things like small diagrams and connect thoughts with arrows.

In contrast to that, while reading design documents at work and similar content I’ve started drafting ideas and comments on a good old college block (A4) and that worked wonders for my thought process! Thinking proposals through is all of a sudden easy and I can come up with feedback in a much better way than before!

For books, though, I don’t want to just put those notes onto some throwaway college block that I have been gifted while at university 15 years ago (I’m not kidding). I want something that feels better, something respectful of the time I invest into the books that I want to remember. For this purpose I’ve now opened another one of those thin Muji A5 notebooks that I had lying around in my desk-drawer and never knew precisely, what to use them for.

So, that’s an experiment for now. I’ve just finished “Unit Testing Principles, Practices, and Patterns” by Vladimir Khorikov which contains a lot of ideas and thoughts that I simply don’t want to forget! Let’s see how it goes and if I’ll use this approach also for the next book!

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