After many months of reading very actively for the book club, I have noticed that I am writing more detailed notes. I previously underlined, tagged pages, and wrote in margins; but I have come to realise that most of the time, these underlined passages and margin notes go unreferenced once the book is retuned to the bookshelf.
Unreferenced and ultimately forgotten.
To be of any use to us beyond the time we spend to read the book, literature notes (the notes we take when we read books) must exist elsewhere in a physical notebook or on programs such as Notion, Evernote, or Roam Research.
Writing notes while reading slows me down and makes my reading much more intentional. I am more aware of what I am seeking to understand of a given subject and I find I am able to follow arguments much more actively.
Last week I came upon the book How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens (not in stock at Wardah Books yet, by the way), and the first principle the author outlined is this:
writing is not the outcome of thinking; it is the medium in which thinking takes place.
In light of my recent (some might say belated) discovery of the value of writing with respect to active reading, this makes perfect sense.
We write not only to record, but more importantly to think through ideas, to integrate them, and to elaborate them in our own words.
And writing does more than that.
In our book club pre-reading session two weeks ago on With the Heart in Mind, the author Mikaeel Ahmed Smith, among other things, spoke about the importance of journalling as a means for cultivating emotional awareness.
As it happens, on Monday 19 October we will be hosting a session with Tauseef Mehrali who recently produced the Jeem Journal. The Jeem Journal is a guided journal containing short, structured exercises and writing prompts.
So writing not only facilitates thinking, it helps with emotional development as well.
If you have not tried your hand at writing literature notes or journal entries, I hope I have somehow nudged you in this direction.