160 thoughts on “Taking Away One New Lesson From Each Book You Read

  1. Hi Elle! I do have a ‘notebook’ that now looks like an encyclopedia filled with things I gleaned from whatever material I read. It is not that organized though but I am planning to put flaglets in the edges of the page to indicate the topic covered in a particular note. Looks like a nice book you have there. I will check it out..=)

  2. I had a teacher last year who assigned our humanities class to write an essay about what we wanted to take away from each book we read (and we read A LOT of books that semester — from Descartes to Don Quijote to Hogarth). We weren’t expected to comprehend EVERYTHING we read or remember every important concept, but as long as we could remember ONE thing from what we read — a life lesson, an inspirational quote, a radical theory, a critique on society, a historical fact — she believed that was good enough.
    Good luck with your reading!

  3. This is a great concept. As a biochemistry student, I’m a little embarrassed at how my reading for fun has suffered in the last few years. This is a great way to get motivated to pick up a book again!

  4. One very goot tip I got from a book by Terry Goodkind is this:
    “People are stupid. A person will believe a lie simply because they want it to be true or because they are afraid it is true.

    I’ll never forget this.

  5. Hi Elle,
    I love the idea of having one place where you can see what you’ve read and your reader reflections. Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  6. After reading your blog i realized a quote.
    Creativity is nothing but hiding the source!!!

    As a iPhone App Developer myself i used to take lessons, concepts, ideas from existing apps and modify it and use it in my own app. ;)

  7. Hi Elle! That is exactly why I started a blog. I kept writing down notes and quotes, ideas, inspiration, and ended up putting them in beautiful journals so I had them in one place (and not in tattered pieces all over my house), hence my blog’s name The Lotus Seed Journals. It’s great that way because everything in these journals is so significant and inspiring to me specifically. I think everyone should create their own journals in order to have what is thought-provoking to them and what illuminates parts of their soul at their fingertips.

    I have not read “Steal Like An Artist” and look forward to checking it out!

  8. That’s a very good idea. I read alot but often feel the loss at finishing a book because I know that I’ll probably forget all about it after a few weeks.

  9. RIF – – – Reading is Fun! The best thought-keeper devised that I have found, Evernote, brings organization to the collection of ideas. It’s free, infinitely searchable, synchable, and easy. This is not an ad, just sayin’

  10. Hi Elle! I’m so happy to find someone that seems to think a little like myself; my blog is very unimaginative and is simply my own personal review of the books I read and what I’ve taken away from them, I look forward to reading what you take away from yours.

  11. Hi Elle!

    I believe, the next book i’m gonna read is, “Steal Like An Artist”. I’ve already started hunting the online book stores. Thanks for suggesting this book!

    And, keep rolling out more posts on books that you gonna go through!

  12. Thank you so much for all your kind words! I am more inspired than ever to keep reading. I love how many of you have posted quotes and lessons from their favouirte readings. I’ll definitely add your book suggestions to my to-read list :)

  13. Great idea – I’ll try the same approach while reading in the future! :) I’ll also check out Steal like an Artist, seems like a book I would like reading.

  14. I never do a good job when I try to copy someone else. I’m not that good when I am creating my own art. It never turns out how I planned, but some of my best work are happy accidents!

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  16. I realised when I finished my first course that when I read books, I forget most of what I’d read. I’m just about to start psychology and while the essays we write will help us to remember certain details, I felt that I needed to put my thoughts elsewhere, so I created my blog.
    However, I’ve recently realised that I find it easier to jot my thoughts in a notepad (and that I have a thing about notepads :oops: I seem to be collecting them).
    It’s good to know I am not alone in needing to make notes and refer back to things read in order to keep them with me. I always feel I forget things far too easily :)

    • I’m also a notebook collector.

      In my last year of my undergraduate degree I actually kept a book called “Things you’ll need in Grad school.” I would basically jot down the key ideas from each course before taking a midterm/exam and make notes of journal articles that I read. It’s fun to look back at, although my perception of what I’d need for grad school was way off!

      Come to think of it, there’s another post right there… :)

      • I would be interested to read that post! People always make fun of me for keeping all my university essays and notes, and then I (somewhat surprisingly) got a job as a university instructor. I did go back to some of those notes and readings, but only the most recent ones (from grad school, not from undergrad). As a librarian and book historian, this question of keeping track of books is one that interests me greatly (and I’m planning a post on some of the interesting books that have been written recently about pre-computer information management systems used by scholars. One of the most interesting approaches to “keeping track” that I’ve seen is the work on personal information behavior of serious hobby cooks, done by one of my profs, Jenna Hartel.

        As to my own practices, they are haphazard – a mix of social bookmarking, blogging, Zotero, and just remembering. Mainly just remembering, actually – ever since I was little I could remember not only what I read but also exactly where I read it, and it used to make my family laugh. In return, the part of my brain that processes maps and spatial problems seems to have gone missing:-B

        I also adore nice notebooks, but they get used for to-do lists, not reading notes, don’t know quite why.

  17. Great game plan, love the idea of actually remembering lessons that I take away for more than a fleeting moment. I always figure “this is so important that I’ll remember it always” and then 5 minutes pass and I’m on to something else…..

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  19. Love the idea of keeping a notebook for all the ideas learned from reading great books. I find myself writing things down on scraps of paper and then, of course, can never find those scraps again! Also, this book sounds great. I’ve just added it to my list of books I want to read.

  20. Reading books is much like the quote, “you are as good as the last thing you have written”. I keep my books to share with friends and family. I keep a digest of the books I own and ones I have completely written..

  21. Books are great, I think generally if we like them we take something useful from them. However we read even more blog posts than ever and remember even less about what we have just read (or more often skimmed), taking one lesson from each blog post you ever read could truly make you a wise student in the school of life.

  22. Congrats on FP!! And great post. I am so inspired to make this list of things learned from each book I read and to keep it somewhere other than my brain. Books are everywhere in my life and its always great to come across another one passionate about reading. Happy Reading and thanks for the post

  23. Elle – It’s a great idea that brings me a lot of pleasure. I don’t always gain something of substance from keeping notes, but it does burn it deeper into my memory.

    As I’ve grown older I’ve realized the importance of keeping notes on paper, exercising my ability to write cursive. It is slower, but it requires no external power source except for light.

    The result is that my life and the things that are important to me are recorded in a stack of journals.

    • I’m also a journal keeper. I love that I can always reference back to the exact thoughts and viewpoints that I had as a child. For me, my journals are a great source of inspiration and provided me with a place to learn to communicate.

  24. interesting idea, if for no other reason than to be able to keep track of all the books you’ve read and their take away impressions before they fade. I may just do this myself.

    congrats on being freshly pressed.

  25. That is an awesome idea! I’ve set the same goals, but I haven’t articulated it as nicely as you have. I enjoy reading, but don’t make the time to read. I use Audible.com which is Amazon’s audio book division. Once a month I get a credit for a new book and I listen to it on my Droid while I’m at the gym or in the car. I’ve started to really utilize their ‘bookmark’ feature which allows me to click a button when I hear something impactful and make a little note.

    You will grow so much over the course of the year. I hope you continue to write about your learnings.

    Good luck!

  26. Great idea. I’ve recently started a pen and paper journal to help with some issues I’m dealing with. It’s been so long since I’ve been a student and now everything is digital and electronic but I realized that my success as a student was due to my study habits which included taking good notes and then rewriting them. I learn better when writing things down the old fashioned way. I’ll still be attached to my iPhone and Laptop but pen and paper will be around, too. Congrats on FP.

    • I went through university and grad school recently, so computer note-taking was always an option for me, but I realized right away that notes taken on the computer didn’t “stick” in my memory, but notes taken by hand get mentally photographed and remembered. I also take great pleasure in organizing them, with arrows and underlines, etc. but maybe that’s just because I am a big nerd.

  27. I started hand-written journaling at the age of 11 and find that it is the most therapeutic and comfortable way for me to be in tune to my inner voice. However, it has presented a problem in our modern digital age of how to transfer and/or preserve all of that hand-written history! There are machines that can scan books, so I’m looking into that option. But, someday someone (if not me) is going to have to sit down and type out those entries or at least passages of most interest. I’ve tried to journal online, and although it offers so many more options, I still can’t help hand writing. Which is odd, because I have no problem composing my blog posts directly online. I’m sure it must have a lot to do with what we learn at a young age and become most comfortable with. Growing up without computers or electronics was a whole different world (and I’m not really that old – times have changed so quickly!). Thanks for sharing this particular book “stealing like an artist’. I hadn’t heard of it before and it sounds very intriguing. Good luck on your reading project, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed – MoSop

  28. Congratulations on Freshly Pressed!!!!
    I think you are on to something here, what a wonderful idea to document what you’ve read AND lessons that are important to remember. I read so many books that sometimes I forget what I read at all ….. such a terrible thing! I’m going to “borrow” your idea and start my own journal too. Thanks for sharing!

    Nicole @ Three 31

  29. hi, congrats for being freshly pressed ;) i dont have notebook, but i keep record books that i’ve read on my blog. i think it will also help me to write… i never heard of the book that you are suggesting, but i’ll check…. thanks for sharing.

  30. Great idea. If we take at least one point from the book we read to the heart, we will learn a lot in due course of time. Loved your idea. Most of the time I feel I spend lots of energy in trying to keep more facts in mind from one book and finally end up in not finishing up that book at all. I used to postpone going to the next chapter because I used to feel that the previous chapter is very important and I should go through it once more to take notes. I guess I will follow your idea from now on.. Thanks..

  31. thanks for the post, really loved it. I am blessed with a very good memory but keeping a book journal sound great. And I do tnd to cribble things down helps me think and I do believe that handwriting s so much more organic

  32. I actually keep a journal full of quotes I love and one filled with things I learn as I read (I’m a history major, random facts are our specialty)

  33. What a great idea! I never thought of doing this for books I read. I few years ago I bought a tiny notebook, and at the end of each day would write down three things that made me happy that day, or things I learned. I think I will unearth it today and start doing that again, I had all but forgotten about it. Your post jogged my memory! I’ll have to start a little section in it for books.

  34. What a great goal to have! You’ve given me a great idea too – I’m always highlighting passages on my iPad as I read a book, but I think I’m going to start keeping them in my Noteshelf app where I can create a book of them. That way I can look back at the end of the year and see all the new wisdom I learned in one year.

    • Was going to suggest the same thing. The day I catalogued a few years worth of books on goodreads was one of the most cathartic things I’d done in years… plus, you can add a nugget or two of “things you learned” in the comments/review section.

  35. I haven’t read Steal Like an Artist like an artist, but I think I just might have to. I started a reading blog to share what I learned, but also so I don’t forget. :) Thanks for sharing!

  36. I’ve just started “Lifes Little Detours” by Regina Brett. I picked it up in the library earlier this week. Its made up of the authors 50 things she had learned by the age of 50 and I have to say it is food for thought. Maybe one to add to your list?

  37. I love to read. I read educational, inspirational and even the fluff my daughter reads just so I stay on the know – kids…. But I like your idea, maybe I might try that: I have a habit of telling my kids that I’ve forgotten more things than they’ve learned. If I track it I might be able to prove it….. LOL

  38. I like this concept. As an avid reader I think I will give this a try. I’m going to attemp to do this in a journal form with my daughter who is also a big reader. It would be cool to keep a record of what her mind and thinking process was like when she 9 and what she believed was the most important thing she took away from the book.

  39. What a great concept to use a book to capture one idea from each book you read. It would also be a good place to record those interesting ideas that pop up in your mind occasionally and then float away before you have the time to flesh them out and act on them. Your book of notes could become a fun resource for inspiration.

    Congratulation on being Freshly Pressed!

  40. Hey. Now I am in faculty. I wrote all my thoughts about the books that I read. Besides, I copied important quotes from these books into my notebook, that was there just for revisions of books.

    Now, in college I prefere doing things and learn from experience, rather than just reading and trying to memorize things by heart. However, from time to time I love to read a book and get some inspiration, but it is more a relaxation than anything else.


  41. I think I need a copy of that book! I have pin boards on the wall behind the desk I write at. Its basically collage of art, quotes, photos. A little inspiration for the slow days.

    • It’s definitely a great book for a hundred more reasons that I talked about in this post. I’ve had it on my desk as reference since I finished it last week.

  42. It was awesome first finding you on Freshly Pressed!
    Since childhood, I’ve had a weekly log where I kept track of starting or finishing a book. Looking back on it, I get to remember when I read certain titles, and simply seeing those titles makes me remember the general designs and colors of those book covers. Since I only list the titles, I don’t have a place to write down how the book made me feel, but remembering the covers reminds me how I enjoyed the story behind each title.
    Steal Like An Artist sounds fun; I’ll definitely check it out.

  43. I’m so glad I came across your blog tonight as I love the idea of taking something away from each book I read but it never occurred to me to start recording it all. I will definitely be starting a log of my own. The last book I read that truly moved me was called “I Have Lived A Thousand Years” by Livia Bitton-Jackson. Definitely recommend! I think it’s where my own log will begin.

  44. Elle–

    Simple and creative. Parfait! I’ve been in the habit of journaling in my steno, and giving over to the computer when I’m ready to “publish.” I’ve found my creativity flip-flopping and zig-zagging, in all different directions, when I have a “handle” on my work. There’s tactile magic in the hands with a pad and pen, too. Have fun with your list. I can’t wait to see what you’ve “learned” on your first anniversary. ~Cheers!


    • I actually have a number of blog posts that started as lists that I drew inside a notebook. Writing by hand slows me down, but it’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing.

      • I’m starting to blog, and you’re my first post. Thanks! I can imagine you having a very quick mind, and, as long as you can type, as fast as you think, God bless ya! I’m all thumbs and chicken-peckin’, myself. Good to here from ya and stay in touch. ~Ed

  45. Hi. I can relate to this post so much because I still bring a notebook and pen with me wherever I go. However, like you, I have gotten used to typing my thoughts so I don’t really fill the notebook. What I do is write key words, or sentences just to remind me that I have a topic to write about in my blog.
    Now, as to where I put my thoughts on books that I have read, aside from keeping blogs, I registered in http://www.shelfari.com. It’s a great site for books. You keep a log of books that you have read or the books that you plan reading. You can write a review and put the lines you like best from the book.
    I know that you’ve been trying to stay away from your gadgets and all, but it won’t hurt to visit the site when you miss the internet.Godspeed.

  46. This really encouraged me because this is also one of my goals. I’ve found that using a highlighter while I read helps a lot because then I can go back and skim the main points. (Only problem is that obviously my system won’t work with library books. :)

  47. OK I love that idea to write down one thing you learned from each book! On my 101 tasks in 1001 days my goal is to get through all the books in my bookshelf and a whole row of them are inspirational! What a smart idea! Thanks for that!

  48. This sounds like a great idea. I actually started something like it for the book I’m reading right now, “Half the Sky.” It’s a great book about oppression on women from around the world. There’s a lot of things to learn and I knew I wouldn’t be able to memorize everything cause of information overload. I’ll definitely start a small journal about the things I learn from the books I read. It’d be great if you could also write a list of some books that you suggest.

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  50. JUST bought the book today, then stumbled upon your post. Very excited to read it now, and I might also implement your ideas about taking a lesson from every book I read. A list might be in order.

  51. One of my goals for this year, were to read at least 12 books (1 each month). I’ve even joined a book club to motivate me to read more, and this a great idea to help me to commit to my goals and be able to look back on what I’ve read.

    Your post also inspire some ideas for my blog! So thank you.

  52. I have been reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, and she has inspired me to keep a notebook of quotes, notes, lessons, and whatever else I take from the books I read. I think this is a great idea! I find that I often whizz through books and it goes in one eye and out the other, completely missing my brain, and I can never recall anything specific from the book, just whether or not I liked it. This needs to change if I want my reading to be more rewarding. Great idea and good luck with your goal of reading 25 books this year!

  53. hi. i like the thought of distilling a book down to the essence that means the most to you as a reader.

    A very practical (yet profound as it’s easy to remember) purpose for reading author’s art (books).

    Thanks for sharing and the reading tips.

    Here’s a music link from New Zealand, just for you.


    I am reading a book of different poets at the moment. Each poem I ask myself that question too of your blog post’s purpose. Each day I feel like I’m given a gift, that I can see, when I think as your recommended, when reading. Nice one! :)

  54. Hey Elle! Yes you are right that some of the readers are probably have thought about it-including myself, but have not done what you did. So to me your post is poking me to start doing such great and positive idea. Thanks for elaborating in such beautiful way! And also thanks for the link.. Cheers!

  55. I jot things down that capture my imagination or spark something in me on evernote. Just to hold on to the thought, as I found I did forget otherwise, even when I thought it was a brilliant idea. I carry my iphone everywhere so evernote is always to hand, and it syncs with my laptop. I then work ideas up on my laptop, when I have time. And some ideas get discarded too.

  56. Great idea! Some of these books are life-changing if you come across them at the right time. Viktor Frankl’s Meaning of Life had a huge impact at a difficult time. One oh his pieces of advice was not to focus on what you expect from life- this only breeds disappointment and discontent. Focus rather on what life expects from you at this particular moment in time. Taking action leaves less time for feeling sorry for myself plus I keep moving forward. Priceless!

  57. Great Idea! There is nothing wrong with kicking it old school! Divorcing yourself from technology will spur a lot of creativity! Technology makes everything so accessible we don’t have to think. Thinking is what spurs creativity. The two go hand in hand friend. I’m looking forward to reading what you learn from you books!

  58. I haven’t heard about that book before but I’ll definitely check it out after reading your post!

    I personally keep track of the books I read in one of those dorky Moleskine Journals of Books. You can review the books you read and that’s where I’d usually write what I got out of them. But sometimes it not immediately evident what you took away from a book. Sometimes words of wisdom from a random book I read one time will pop into my head and at times like this I remember how precious, wonderful and important literature is. Literature opens your world like nothing else.

  59. Well as a fellow writer myself, i say life experiences are always be described more in depth then a mutual feeling. But the combination of the two can bring something special together especially if its something relatable. Every thing has been inspired by something else so this tactic is pretty common especially with the ability to rewrite books that lose their patent or copyrights. But hey you can always find new readers who are introduced to something for the first time and as long as you can provide that then what the hey right -,o


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  61. This is a great idea, and one that I would hope to take on myself one day. I often find that I read several books in a row with similar themes (for example, dealing with loss) even though I didn’t intend to do that. Sometimes there’s just a synchronicity! I look forward to hearing about your books.

  62. I like the title,

    sometimes I draw a picture, and something I saw or thoght about a long time ago, or whatever comes out of me. However, How could you possible design something that had not been done before ? You know, like the Beatles song.

    My friend from Egypt told me that there is a difference in meaning between create, make and design and I agree. We just design or make.

    I am creative, however, Steal is so harsh. Great idea to read all those books. You got the discipline.

  63. When I read the article Steal Like an Artist, I loved it so much. I didn’t know that it was turned into a book! Thanks for sharing that info! I’ve also started taking notes when I read books. In The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, the author shares that she loves taking notes when she reads books. She then discovered that some of the information she gathered were connected. She then used her notes to write a book. So ever since then I also started taking notes. :-)

  64. Gosh, I write so little now that I find it a real chore when I do – physically, I mean. It’s like my fingers aren’t used to holding the pencil anymore! I am watching my son learning to write and he is struggling (he says “it’s hard mummy”!). I sympathise – I really do. My handwriting is terrible and I’m glad I have the choice to use technology to record my ideas and thoughts. I even find myself using the notes app on my iphone to make shopping lists and to-do lists, or jot down ideas for my blog. I do still carry a notebook around me for those times when I can’t access technology though. I’m not sure if I am more creative particularly though with a pen and paper…. maybe…. I suppose the pen sometimes takes you in directions a keyboard doesn’t, when you’re not really thinking and stopping to edit all the time. More like a stream of consciousness maybe?

    I am terrible for forgetting books too. Great idea to write down a lesson for each book and make a blog out of it.


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  67. Great idea! I’m ordering Steal Like An Artist right now! I especially like the part about creating the content with your hands. I’m a songwriter and it’s always a guitar and a laptop. I’m gonna try guitar/pencil/paper this week and see what happens. :) Another great book for creative types is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I can’t say enough about this book.

  68. I really like your idea. Did you think about posting each new thing you learned as you go. I am pretty sure I am not the only one who would like to read about your insights as you go.

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  71. I really loved Steal Like An Artist as well-especially the advice on stepping away from the computer. However in the digital age I think it’s really hard-especially for students, but personally I found that I felt a lot more accomplished by writing things down on a notebook and then putting it onto the computer :)

    Great post!

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