Tommi Space

Reading is enough

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]( ‘Do your Own Thinking on Andy Matuschak’s notes’); 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