📑 Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read

Bookmarked Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read (The Atlantic)

To me, it doesn’t seem like narcissism to remember life’s seasons by the art that filled them—the spring of romance novels, the winter of true crime. But it’s true enough that if you consume culture in the hopes of building a mental library that can be referred to at any time, you’re likely to be disappointed.

Books, shows, movies, and songs aren’t files we upload to our brains—they’re part of the tapestry of life, woven in with everything else. From a distance, it may become harder to see a single thread clearly, but it’s still in there.

Julie Beck discusses reading and suggests that unless we do something with it within 24-hours then it often disappears. Associated with this, she recommends reading more slowly if we are to take them in. This builds on Ryan Halliday’s point to do something with what you read. I am also left wondering about the connections with digital literacies to support this.

6 responses on “📑 Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read”

  1. Reflecting on my year as a failed flânerie, I take on space as a new word and a new approach to my one word.

    I am not exactly sure what I thought 2019 would be, but I certainly did not not expect what I got. My one word was flânerie. So many aspects of my life are structured, I therefore felt I need some serendipity. As I stated:

    What I liked about [flânerie] was that it was not about merely observing, but also actively producing.

    I tried walking. Failed.
    I tried reading random books, but that seemed to dry up as well. Although I read them, I would never get around to doing anything with it all.
    I think a part of me thought that a focus on being a flânerie was some sort of licence to let go. However as the year meandered on I realised that being a flânerie was probably as much about being structured and deliberate.
    It all reminded me of those who claim to be agile or distributed. So often people have the right intent in trying to change, but they do not allow the appropriate resources for such ideas and initiatives to flourish.
    A useful heuristic that comes up again and again in my job is the Project Management Triangle. This is where the quality of the finished product is a combination of time, scope and cost. Sacrifice any of these elements and you reduce the quality of the outcome.
    Thinking then about my focus on flânerie, one such resource that was a problem was time. With my limited time wedged between family and work, I was often left trying to achieve more than was possible.
    As the year ended, a part of me wondered if my year as a failed flâner came back to the expectations that I set for myself at the beginning. I was therefore left considering where to next. I often have my one word sorted out as the new year passes by. As January unfurled, I wondered if the practice had its day?
    Inspired by a few reflections, I wondered if maybe I was approaching it all the wrong way? Rather than having something with explicit or implied outcomes, maybe I needed a new approach, one focused on an open-ended concept? Although Kath Murdoch talks about nudging you along a path, maybe the nudge that matters most is an inquiring mind?
    Therefore, my one word for 2020 is ‘space’. Unlike past years, this year will be a wondering about everything associated with the idea of ‘space’. Here is my start:

    Space as a Non-Human Actor: In Ian Guest’s research into Twitter, he talks about non-human actors.

    Learning Spaces: What is impact of space on learning?

    Space within the Mind: What would … do? Who are the defaults we fall back on? Theatre of the mind?

    Space and Place in the World: What is my place within the world? What space do I take up? How do we perceive it? How does this fit with other people? What are the possible spaces?

    Coalescent Spaces: Where does the physical stop and the virtual start?

    So that is me that year. It is fascinating to reflect upon the journey from capacity to communication to intent to flânerie to space. Really appreciate any thoughts or recommendations about resources on the topic.

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  2. Thank for sharing your process for reading as a part of a book club Chris.
    Your first step of flicking through some reviews and the contents reminded me of a piece from The Marginalian about Bill Cosby’s strategies for reading faster, in which he talks about previewing first:

    Previewing is especially useful for getting a general idea of heavy reading like long magazine or newspaper articles, business reports, and nonfiction books.

    Source: How to Read Faster: Bill Cosby’s Three Proven Strategies by Maria Popova
    I am interested in your us of audiobooks. I must admit, I have really turned to audiobooks as I felt I was never going to get quality reading time to sit quietly with a book. Just wondering, when listening, do you have to be giving your whole attention, or do you listen while doing other things? For example, I have heard Cory Doctorow explain how he ‘reads’ while swimming. Personally, I like listening in my lunch breaks while pounding the city streets, but I often wonder if there is something lost in doing two things at once, especially if I have a thought and want to make a note. Really, that is my biggest challenge, actually doing something with what I read.

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