How to memorize what you’ve read. Tools, tips, and techniques.


I’m not good at memorizing names. And as I read this or that book, I come across another name, and I’m like, "Is this a new character, or have I met him?". This is especially true of Russian classics, where, besides names and surnames, there is also a patronymic. And variants of how the author can call his heroes increased.
I wouldn’t say I have a bad memory; it is normal. But remembering a name without associations or any backstory is very difficult for me. So in high school, I always had a habit of writing down the names of heroes. And if I have a good mood, I will also write down their character descriptions.
But, as you know, not everyone has the luxury of taking a notebook and a pen. And, for example, in the subway to write down names. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Kinds of Literature

In general, I divide literature into three kinds. It is divided according to the principle, the amount of attention required, and the way of reading, either linear or random.

Technical literature

You have to be as focused as possible. You have to read every word. And the sequence of reading doesn’t matter. In technical literature, it is important to find the answer to the question of how, why, where, and so on.
Technical literature, examples:
  • Project documentation
  • Textbooks
  • Guides, instructions, and tutorials
  • Source Code. Yeah, I think of it as technical literature.
  • Application Interface. Or simply an API.


Less attention is required, but it is still needed. Again, let us recall the example in the introduction about names. The consistency in this literature is critical. You can’t read it from the middle or from the chapter you like in the description. It must be read from the beginning to the end.
Questions in this form of literature are not raised. Here is the main thing to remember and draw some conclusions, which may have implied the author.
Fictional literature can include the following examples:
  • Classic
  • Fiction and other genres of literature

Pulp Fiction

Doesn’t require any attention. Consistency may or may not make sense.
Such literature is not well remembered. Once you read it, you’ll never remember it. Very often, this phrase is used as an insult to books. Like, not interesting or serious.
All articles, posts, and news on the Internet are, for me, pulp fiction

Approaches to reading literature. How to read.

There’s a reason I’ve broken down all humanity’s writing into these three kinds. They’re broken up because each one of them has its own way of reading and remembering. Which I’ll look into in this article.

How to read technical literature

Reading technical literature depends very much on the book itself. For example, the physics textbook is better read consecutively. But the documentation on Python or API Telegram can be read from the middle. As long as this approach can solve a question or solve the problem.

Tips for reading technical literature

  • Make bookmarks
  • Write down all the questions that came to your mind during the reading. You will find the answers later.
  • Create a dictionary of terms.

How to read fiction

But any art book does not depend on books. One approach to each. At least for me. Whether you are reading War and Peace or a fairy tale about Dunk, the approach(s) will be the same.

Tips for reading fiction

  • Make a list of the names of the main characters; if you wish, you can write down their descriptions.
  • Recap every chapter you read.
  • Write down the questions you have in your head.
  • If you like to draw characters, landscapes, and situations, draw them. You will remember them, for sure.

How to read, pulp fiction

We both read such literature for many reasons. Either from boredom or from interest or curiosity But in order for such reading to be of any use, you need to take note of it or even rewrite and write your own article.
Although, again. It all depends on why we read such articles. If you are bored, no one will take note of such an article :). And if you still want to know the answer to your question and learn something new, then the best option would be to rewrite the article in a new way and find something new on the topic.

How and where to write and take notes

Much has been said about how to read and what to do. But one thing was left untouched: what to use for note-making? Here is my answer.

By notebook

The first option is obvious. You take the notebook and write down everything you need. But, first, the notebook is not always possible to take, and it interferes considerably. And secondly, I don’t really like peeing in front of other people here. That’s another thing with the phone. It is always at hand and virtually universal.

By Telegram's bot notes manager

Specifically for this task, I wrote a Telegram bot. Its main task is to keep and sort all my notes (and yours too) on the books.
When I created a telegram bot, I proceeded from the fact that I am a phone user, which means the program should also be on the phone.
My bot name is @NotebookOnMarginalia_bot. There is also a terminal version, but it is more for amateurs. Link to the GitHub repository.

How to use a bot

This bot deals with notes. Each note has a specific category and subcategory.
The category in this case is the title of the book.
A subcategory can be, for example, quotes from a book, or characters, or questions.
In general, this bot is universal; it can be used not only as an assistant for reading but also as a diary, for example.

With tools built into your readers

It all depends on the applications themselves. Usually, their functionality is to leave notes on certain pages and save bookmarks. That’s enough for a normal reading.


I want to say right away that the methods and tools I offer for memorization are just recommendations. If you like to sit on the subway with a book in one hand and a notebook in the other, you are welcome. Or maybe you are a connoisseur of paper books and a quiet, calm home environment.
I do not pretend to be comprehensive and universal in my methods and advice. Suitable for some, not for others. The main thing is to read and remember what you read. After all, that's the whole point, right?

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