“When we read a book for the first time,” Nabokov complains, “the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation.” Only on a third or fourth reading, he claims, do we start behaving toward a book as we would toward a painting, holding it all in the mind at once.
I’ve always struggled with not being able to recall books perfectly. It’s why I created this project. That still doesn’t get me there, but it lets me feel satisfied that I’ve extracted the key wisdom from the text.
With a few exceptions (mostly fiction I imagine) I don’t think I’d ever re-read a book. Not if I’ve read it correctly the first time. And especially not if I’ve captured it into my reading project.
For learning something practical, I really do feel as if capturing and reading should be connected. If you can’t summarize what you just read, did you really read it at all?