When I read any nonfiction book, I bookmark lines and pages that mean something to me. I don’t think I’m unique in the realization that too often I read through an entire book and remember almost none of it.
To fix this, when something really connects to me, I make sure I can come back and find it again. If it’s a physical book, I fold in the top corner to remember to come back to that page. If I’m reading on Kindle, I highlight the line or paragraph that I really want to remember in the future.
Half the time I come back to these, reread them, and mentally expand upon the fact or idea. The other half, I come back and find the line not particularly meaningful or helpful anymore. In those cases, I erase the highlight, unfold the corner of the page, and forget about it.
The words, lines, sentences, and paragraphs that make it through this second reread are the most important to me. Once I have finished rereading, I open my journal and write down all of my personal takeaways.
Sometimes I rewrite a quote from the book verbatim. Sometimes I paraphrase what is written to better get the point across in my own words. Other times, I take the idea of what is written and reframe it to be more fitting to myself.
Starting in 2021, I intend to continue this process with every nonfiction (and perhaps some fiction?) book I read. This will force me to retain the information I spend my valuable time-consuming. I’ll also reinforce and remind myself of what I deemed worthy enough to write down.
If any book in the following list of every book I’ve read in 2021 piques your interest, click on the title. Here, I have taken my journal notes, cleaned them up a bit, and typed them in bite-sized glimpses of what really stuck out to me.
And while you’re at it, start to bookmark your book highlights too! The personal benefits, I’ve found, go on and on…
- I can improve my life by reminding myself of and implementing the practices I’ve learned from these books. The points that were important enough to reread and write down twice, are important enough to go back to regularly.
- It really helps me remember what a specific book was about in pretty great depth – whether that be for recommending a book to a friend, wanting to reread the book/ a chapter, or finding a book from the same author and getting a reminder of what connected to me.
- I have strong conversations with my peers that have also read the book, ask them what stood out to them, and get their thoughts on what stood out to me. Talking about complex topics that require thinking deeply is one of my passions, and books are full of these.
- I get to improve my writing! I genuinely enjoy writing, and by putting my thoughts out there into the world, I am manifesting a future of much more (and hopefully better) writing and reading to come.
Without further ado, here is every book I’ve read so far in 2021:
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
This book will change the way you think about the size of yourself, the world, and the universe.
Overall it is a quick read, despite touching on some very complex concepts. Not being an astrophysicist myself, I didn’t know a lot of the terminology (though everything was explained), ideas, nor any of the mind-blowing facts about the universe. 100 billion galaxies out there, each with 100 billion stars? A spacecraft hurtling through the endless abyss carrying Mozart, a human heartbeat, and a map back to Earth? If these catch your interest, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
While the beginning 80% of the book focuses on the timeline of discoveries and how we know what we know about the universe today, it can get a bit technical at times. Where this book really stood out was the last chapter, pivoting into a philosophical handbook on the cosmic perspective. To be honest, it really hit deep.
I would recommend this book if you have any interest but not much experience in the cosmos, astrology, or just expanding your mind. You can read my key takeaways that I want to remember forever, here.