Read to Lead – 3 Ways of Reading to Remember


There are readers and there are non-readers.

Those who love to read, thrive on books and read plenty of them. As it happens with everything, we forget 84% of whatever we read within 24 hours. It is difficult to forget how it made us feel though.

I had a fight with a school friend quarter of a century ago. I don’t remember what caused the heated exchange but I can’t forget the hurt it caused. We remember the feeling if it is intense- positive or negative.

When a poignant page becomes wet, I can feel the closeness to that book after decades though I don’t remember anything that was written on that page.

I read masterpieces by Any Rand, Plato, Amrita Pritam, Mahasweta Devi and many other writers but I don’t remember what it gave me at the time I read it. What I remember is that I considered it as a truly unforgettable experience then.

Does it happen with all of you or I need to pull up my mind for being absent?

I derived a small game plan to make the most of my reading by keeping it alive through these steps:

Underline. Highlight, Write: Never start reading a book without a pencil in your hand or within your hand’s reach. (I don’t read a newspaper without having a scissor in proximity – I stupidly collect articles, dated and underlined in various files titled Technology, Society, Management, Entertainment, etc)

Never shy away from using a pencil beneath lines, especially if it is a small print tome.

I even write words like “Beautiful’, ‘Wonderful’, “Share it’ in the margins to keep me excited when I randomly revisit those pages.

It might be amusing at times to realize that I don’t find those words as ‘beautiful’ or ‘wonderful’ as I found them the first time. At times, I find them as beautiful or even more insightful. It helps me to gauge the change in myself over the years.

If this is not enough, I write down the important page numbers on the empty page on the side of preface/foreword.

Those written page numbers help me five/ten years later to relive, re-enjoy the same feeling.

On Kindle, I highlight/note/email important paragraphs to myself.

Underlining is like touching an exquisite place of jewellery or appreciating the fabric of a new dress.

Writing on the margins is like neatly packing the jewellery or the dress for future use.

Repeat: I have a bookshelf in my mind marked “interesting” and I put a few nuggets on it every-day which I repeat to someone the same day. The receiver could be my daughter, my husband, my students or my audience online or offline.

I push myself to verbally share interesting – informative stuff the very same day. If you are thinking about the context, that can be created. If nothing else works, I say – “I discovered a diamond in this statement/fact/anecdote today”.

Don’t feel awkward by the reaction which can range between a yawn or a clap (my daughter rolls her eyes often!). You did it for yourself. You repeated it to keep it in your mind longer.

If you don’t get any listener (they are always hard to find), write it the way I am writing it right now.

I read about some inspiring and painful Olympic stories today and I will repeat them after hunting for some listener.

Children and Subordinates are good prey to repeat what you just read!

Random Read: For staying active, I generally read four to five books at one go. Though I never finish them together as the more interesting ones reach the finishing line while others languish close to the starting line, I try to mix and match.

I re-read a book while I am reading 2 – 3 new books.

It keeps me connected with my feelings and helps me make better use of what I cherish.

Re-reading is like visiting your old school gate or hugging an uncle after years.

There are so many floodgates of memories that get opened.

My three pronged strategy might benefit you.

What is your ‘read to lead’ strategy?