All over the web the saying goes that reading without taking notes is like not reading at all. But, to me, it’s not quite so.

Maybe I take the former statement too literally, but there is one crucial point I believe it’s missing: reading without remembering is better than not reading at all. When at the end of the day I am quite tired but not too sleepy, it’s without question way better and healthier to read thirty pages of a book than watching an episode of a TV series while lying in bed.
Of course, even if I’m not reading a fiction book, I’m in my bed and it’s very uncomfortable to underline sentences and take note of meaningful passages.

Does this mean I shouldn’t read? Not at all: who cares if I don’t remember those pages or even the whole content of the book, reading it is necessarily better than leaving it on a shelf.
One might argue that in this way reading time would amount to wasted time — since very little of what has been read is likely to be remembered —, yet I’m convinced that words in some way leave a mark, and truly crucial passages stay within us regardless of their annotation.

I’m not saying that notes shouldn’t be taken while reading; writing and reformulating concepts, also in the case of fiction stories or art, is a wonderful and effective way to do your own thinking; nevertheless, it’s not so essential and it definitely isn’t the only way to think and understand about what has been read.

most note-taking fanatics seem to actually be quite ineffective thinkers.

Andy Matuschak, The most effective readers and thinkers I know don’t take notes when reading

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