Shane Parrish runs the popular website, Farnam Street. Its mission is to help readers “develop an understanding of how the world really works, make better decisions, and live a better life.” I recently discovered it and it stands out from other websites of its kind.
Here’s a GQ article that outlines Parrish’s guide for reading 80 high-quality books a year, and how to remember the important parts. It describes how to select books, how to take notes, and how to abandon books that aren’t paying off.
Develop a system of note-taking.
Parrish calls his system The Blank Sheet: Before he begins reading a new book, he takes a blank sheet and writes down what he knows about the subject. Then, as he’s reading, he uses a different color pen to write down new ideas and connect them to what he had originally written, hanging the new knowledge on the old knowledge.
“Use a different color every time, so you can visualize what you’re learning as you’re reading,” says Parrish. “Then before you start your next reading session, to ease your brain into it, you just review the mind map. That gives you the context of where you left off… Then when you’re done with the book, you have this summary of the book.”