I have, for a long time, heard people singing the praises of commonplace books. Many of the most important and intelligent people in history have kept those and I figured I should as well (Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is one of them). For most of this year (starting around March), I have highlighted passages on my kindle (I do prefer paperbacks but since I still don’t have a very stable place to live, I’ve had to do with e-readers) and written them out on index cards a few days after finishing the book. Lately I’ve tried yet another method and what I will do here is outline both, since I have been using them side by side and I have been extremely happy with my results.
This is fairly self-explanatory: whenever I come across an interesting passage, I highlight it and continue reading, this method makes it possible for me to read and focus on what the book is saying, taking it at face value, without having to stop and make notes in between.
However, I felt like I was missing something, those were a little too shallow for my liking, so I needed a second system. I also needed to change my approach to reading, and I did do that.
My new note-taking method
I have to be honest now and say that this new method comes with a small downside: when riding buses or (some) trains, I am limited to reading fiction (which to be fair is not bad). My new approach to reading is much more like I would approach studying for a test or school than anything else, so I have limited myself to reading on my desk, or at least somewhere where I can write and take notes actively as well. I bought a file and dividers for A5 paper and take my notes on them.