In the past, I used to treat books as objects that needed to be kept as close to their original condition as possible. I don’t know how I arrived at this line of thinking, but as a result I wouldn’t take notes in the margins of a book or underline the text.
A few months ago, I started to question this assumption. If your goal is to learn from what you read, underlining the text’s key passages and articulating your takeaways from the reading as they emerge help you progress towards your goal. Keeping a book in its original condition doesn’t. I therefore started to read with a pen in hand, taking notes in the margins and underlining text as I go along.
Although I have yet to try them out, there are also tools that let you take notes and highlight text while reading on the web.
It’s been about 3 months since I started using this approach and I feel like I’m internalizing the key takeaways of what I’m reading to a greater extent than in the past.