On the Proper Reading of Books

In high school, and college, by God’s grace and my laziness, I didn’t really have to study. I only took notes if the teacher required we take notes, and even then often didn’t.

As a consequence of my laziness, I didn’t learn how to study, or how to take notes well. Also, since then new tools that can be used for note-taking were developed, that is the smart phone and tablet.

I learned a bit when I got saved and started reading the Bible. Not so much the note taking, but reading for a purpose other than for entertainment or facts. Learning proper hermeneutics, by God’s grace, came shortly thereafter. Very thankful for this one!

What I haven’t learned yet is how to take notes while reading a book. I’m sure I could just start taking notes, but I want my notes to be useful in the future.

So, with that in mind, I ask you, how do you take notes on what you read? In my current situation, I’m reading a book that is a little over 1,000 pages, is likely to be very deep, and I will probably want to be able to recall and locate sections or quotes quickly.

How do you take notes? Suggested methods? Tools? Paste the whole book in to Evernote  and hope their search works well?

3 thoughts on “On the Proper Reading of Books”

  1. I realize this is an old post, but I just discovered your site and it’s a subject that interests me greatly. I do a lot of reading and have at best a helter-skelter system of taking notes, consisting of (1) scribbles in physical books (at least the ones with enough whitespace) and (2) for digital books/articles/pdf’s: little text files in a ‘notes’ folder, each named to coincide with the title. The first has strong pros and cons: the notes are inherently connected to the context, yet finding where I wrote a particular note can waste a lot of precious time during research. The pros/cons of my digital system are basically the opposite. (Exceptions to #2 are those reading systems with built-in note features that solve the context problem; I use Kindle & Logos.)

    I’ve never used Evernote, but Tim Challies recently gave a sideways plug for it.
    “At first I used it sparsely and hesitatingly, only putting my most important ideas into it. But over time I came to see that Evernote works better when I put everything into it, whether it is something I deem of critical importance or low importance. Rather than trusting myself to be the ultimate filter, I do better to put everything into the software and then to allow Evernote’s filters to separate what is needed from what is not. The lesson learned is that with good filters, more information is better than less information.”

    I’m curious if since this was posted, you’ve settled on a particular method and why.

    1. I tried writing notes in the book, I just couldn’t do it. I’m using Evernote or GoodReads. Though, I haven’t had as much time to read lately.

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