February 23, 2024

Of course! Reading opens a path to improvement as you learn from newbies and pros alike. Reading sharpens one’s communication skills. If you must be able to start and maintain conversations read great books. Great books offer a plethora of benefit.

However, we find it daunting when we cannot remember the contents of the books we read. Socrates says “There is no learning without remembering.”

Have you been studying but cannot remember for some reason? Do you wish to read and retain the books that you read?

If yes, Here’s a piece you won’t let slip off your slate.

By the end of this article, you’ll learn why you cannot retain the few books you read and the ‘4 easy ways to read and retain books’.

Let’s dive right in!

Why You Cannot Retain the Books you Read

It might be easy to go down to the nearest book store to get some books experts and other achievers recommend you need for your growth or even those books you crave for. You could even get information at your fingertips through the internet.

But for some reason, you lose most of the lessons learned. There could be countless reasons, why you cannot retain the books that you read. They are as follows;

  1. You don’t enjoy reading: It is no cliché that you would have to be passionate about something to make meaning out of it. You cannot work in a company grumble every day and achieve remarkable results. Similarly, you cannot pick a book not enjoy it, and expect to remember it.


More so, it is possible that you are not sticking with the books that interest you. J.K. Rowling says “if you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” In other words, one major reason you don’t enjoy reading is that you read the wrong books.


  1. Lack of concentration: doing things haphazardly has never helped anyone. Reading just for its name would not guarantee understanding let alone retention.


  1. You read piles of books at the same time: unless for research purposes why consume so much? This is another reason why you cannot retain the books that you read. Reading piles of books will sometimes land you to not finishing any. And as David Mitchell said, “A half-read book is a half-finished love affair”.


  1. You do not know your intentions for reading: it turns out that everything works well when there is clarity, so you are prone to lose most, if not all that you have read because you cannot answer why you are reading or why you have read the piece. If you don’t make your intentions clear you’ll end up not having any take out and in the end tag your time with the book ‘a waste’.
  1. You keep it to yourself: you won’t enjoy the art of reading if you read and do not share, if you have been reading and saving them up there, there are high chances of forgetting them.


  1. You don’t make attempts to retain: it is possible that you don’t take action to retain the books that you read. What actions should you take to retain? Read on you’ll get to know.


  1. You force yourself to retain all the content you consume:this is yet another reason why you cannot read and retain. Ever heard of the saying “grasp all, lose all”? You lack retention because you don’t ‘cut yourself some slack.’


  1. Your brain does not need much information: we are bombarded with a lot of information and, remarkably, it is only the ones we are emotionally attached to that get to stay. So, another reason you cannot retain is that you don’t have to retain that much.

One or more of these are practical reasons why you cannot read and retain. Now that you can relate with them, let’s see the 4 easy ways you can read and retain.

4 Easy Ways to Read and Retain

1. ‘Enjoy’ the ‘Few’ Books that You Read

It is easy to get grip on a handful of books, but do you buy what you enjoy reading?

Find the right book and you will enjoy reading it. Oftentimes, you do not even need to buy the books that you enjoy, there are facets of books out there that you wouldn’t believe exists until you get your hands on them.

And as you read, you see more reasons to enjoy them. These are books that speak to you, sometimes even remind you what you know.

George Orwell said, “the best books… are those that tell you what you know already”.

Remember to read ‘few’ books.

“Books, like friends should be few and well-chosen.” Charles Caleb Cotton says.

Few books… How many few books can you read? Now, few books could range from hundreds to thousands. Provided there is impartation and provided the impact is remarkable.

You just have to read books that are in your ‘sphere of influence’ books that are capable of transporting you from where you are to where you never even imagined.

Ask any good reader how many books they have read. They wouldn’t hesitate to tell you it’s only but few, but that few could be hundreds or even thousands. Most of them have lost count too. It could be the same for you too…

Research says the average person spends 608 hours on social media annually, and then 1,642 hours watching TV. But giving up 2,250 hours annually will allow you to read 1,000 books in a year.

So read as much as you can.!

“So many books, so little time.” This is a reminder that no matter how much you read you would never be able to cover the books that exist.

However, if you rush reading there is a tendency that you would forget the title of the book before you even finish. Whatever the case might be please enjoy the few books that you read. Unless for research purposes, or some other reasons, read one book at a time.

Note: a lot of people could read multiple books at the same time. However, remember “different strokes for different folks” read one at a time and when you are ready, read as many as you can consume provided you wouldn’t find it fuzzy reading too much at a time.

2. Take Actions to Retain the Books You Read

“All learning is state-dependent” this means that the state that fosters learning is the same state that one would assume in other to remember. You could read something in excitement, sadness, tiring state and for the course of remembrance, you would have to be in the original state that brought about the learning.

Most times you wouldn’t have the opportunity to assume to the same state in other to remember, but something can be done about it. Here are the actions you can take to remember the books that you read;

  • Read it again: Francois Mauriac says “if you tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.” You can at least read a book twice if you intend to remember it. If you can read more than twice… bravo!


This might sound a little tasky for people that are still finding their footing around books and wouldn’t enjoy flipping through the pages for the second time. Here is a quick question though. If you would win $1000, just a thousand dollars sitting for an exam with that book, would you read it once? If you would get that dream job reading that book, would you read it once? Well, you might just be able to bypass this with just a little trick…

  • Take notes: flipping through five hundred pages of books could burn one out, especially when you have a lot to cover. To avoid burning out the second time ‘take notes’ of all the lessons you get from the piece. Please don’t say you hate to lift a pen too. However, if you do, then use a highlighter, just a strike wouldn’t hurt, right?

There is something known as the forgetting curve, it explains how most people lose information over time because they don’t take actions to ‘retain’.

So, whatever you do, make sure you take action to remember. You want to concentrate while reading find an environment that is free of aches and troubles.

And if you find yourself derailing amid the process, ask yourself ‘why am I reading this piece?’ to what use would the book be for me? Answer it correctly, and sincerely. Then you’ll find yourself fall back on track.

The next point might seem counter-intuitive, but here it comes anyway.

3. Forget About the Contents Anyways

When does forgetting occur?

Ever wondered why children are open to learning just about anything faster? And in as much as “children are good imitators than listeners,” they filter information more than most adults would ever do.

But then as they grow they somehow are learning to be in control of what they listen to. That is why you see children argue with relatives and even parents over anything learned in school, they already believe their teachers to be ‘the only authority’ they should listen to than any other person. Other than that as they grow they begin to watch things, and listen to more people. This is the point they would start to forget because of too much information.

So forgetting occurs when there is too much information. But who says forgetting is not good for memory?

Hardt says, “Forgetting is not a failure of memory but a function of it”

In other words, forgetting things is normal so your brain can function properly.

However, forgetting some words in the middle of a presentation that should land you your promotion is sure, not good. Forgetting what you studied right in the exam hall is hurtful too.

These situations make most people conclude ‘they have a bad memory’. However, Jim Kwik a brain coach and motivational speaker says “there is no such thing as good or bad memory, it’s just ‘trained’ and ‘untrained’ memory” so if you take actions to remember, you are training your brain to retain faster’

Why is it important to forget what you learn from the books you read?

“A lot of people don’t learn faster because they feel like they know it already” Jim Kwik.

So, in other words, for you to not just learn faster but retain, you need to have the ‘beginners mindset’.  You can only boast of knowing things if you have loads of information on them.

Note:  Having a beginner’s mindset doesn’t mean you would forget all that you have learned entirely, rather it means having an open mindset, what is considered wrong from one piece of art could be right in another piece of art.

Here is another reason why people forget what they read; most people read superficially because they know they always have the information at their fingertips. People believe they need only type few words on the search button and have piles of information begging to be read.

Technology has crippled us in many ways, as it have made gadgets the most reliable source to complete virtually our everyday task. We find ourselves turning to our phones even for the simplest tasks, which include; keeping daily routines or setting goals, alarms, taking down notes for easy reference too.

And this, in one way or the other would lead us into operating our phones in the early hours of the morning; therefore leading to over-dependency or overuse of mobile phones and other gadgets, and this causes digital dementia.

Relying on your phone could be effective for remembering some information quicker than expected but could be draining as well.

What does this mean in essence? Simple! We assign too many tasks to our phone that we have lost the ability to be productive and at most too… remember things.

Instead of visiting your phone at the early hours of the day, visit your journals refuse to get used to your gadgets, and watch how tremendously you grow into learning how your brain even works.

That you forget things doesn’t make those things irrelevant. Forgetting things doesn’t make you less intelligent or proves you are not smart enough. You just have to turn the odds into your favor. Learn, unlearn and relearn again and again.

4.  Share it, Talk about it, Teach it, Tell it, Practice it

Remember to always ask yourself what is your intentions for reading the books that you read?

Of course… most definitely you read to learn. But to what end? When you learn and don’t do anything about it, the tendency to forgetting it is high. When you talk about the things that you learn you are open to a whole new level of learning because as you impart you get to revisit the books without opening them, you get to receive vital information from your families, colleagues, friends, business associates, and even your boss!

John: Oh Peter, I just got “the subtle art of not giving a fuck” and I feel like I am at it already.

Peter: Oh really John, well wait until you read it, you’d be acting like our boss.

(The both squints and giggles shaking their hands)

Peter: Have you read the art of non-conformity though by Chris Guillebeau

John: What, no…will certainly get it when I finish this. Eem, hey Pee… do you mind we talk about it at launch, I mean the name alone gives me chills (raising his shoulders).

Peter: Hilarious sure…

To you, Peter and John might not have had too many things to say, but just imagine how just the title of the book got them into this conversation early in the morning even before the real work gets to start. Just imagine the kind of conversation these guys are going to have at launch. It would range from agreement to this height of argument and disagreement. They’d be glad they had much to share during their launch.

Sharing, talking and teaching the things that you learn from books grants you the chance to be a boss. Yes, you would be amazed how much you get to say to so many persons that you forget you claimed you have the ‘fear of public speaking’ what? How?

Here’s why… because you know what others do not know. Remember ‘if you must be able to start and maintain conversations read great books’.

Sharing what you have learned is imperative for retaining what one learns from the books. There are so many importance of sharing information.

Sharing the information learned, talking about it, and teaching what you have learned is a bold step to retaining all that you have learned. However it’s a no-brainer practicing all that you have learned that way you not only register other people’s experiences, but you also get to talk about yours too.


Reading and forgetting is unavoidable for so many reasons as said earlier in this guide. Research says within 24 hours an average of 70 percent of new information learned is forgotten and 90 percent is lost within a week.

So, in other words, the possibility of forgetting this article is high, if… you do not revisit it if you do not enjoy it if you do not practice what you have learned if you do not share it if you force yourself to retain all.

You would have to hack your brain by doing the extraordinary.

Do these and be able to retain them faster than you would ever imagine!

7 thoughts on “4 Easy Ways to Read and Retain Books

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *