Think about how many words you come across each day. Do they reach into the thousands? How many of those words do you actually remember? 🤔
Um… yeah. We’d wager that you would be lucky to even remember half of what you read. News flash: it’s because you likely suffer from a binge reading disorder.
What exactly is a binge reading disorder?
It’s when you excessively consume words, kind of like a child who can’t stop eating bags of candy after going trick-or-treating.
And it’s so common today because it’s easy to browse the Internet to acquire information. But reading is more than that—it’s also about processing, analysing and remembering.
Information stands no chance of becoming knowledge unless it “sticks”. And the abundance of information is actually making it harder for us to comprehend what we read—like what writer Nicholas Carr wrote, Google is actually making us “stupid”.
“My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
So how can we better remember what we read?
Don’t panic and decide to just not read at all. There is a solution (of course there is or we wouldn’t be writing this article)!
It’s all about finding a good balance: if you swing too far to Carr’s side, you risk sounding like a technophobe determined to decry the dangers of the web. And if you depend too heavily on the Internet for knowledge, you may forget that it’s rarely efficient.
The solution? Pick up a print book.
According to a Pew report, the average eBook reader reads 24 books over the course of a year, while the average print reader stops at 15. But reading so many eBooks may not actually be a good thing.
A study done by Erik Wästlund of Karlstad University in Sweden discovered that reading online does not necessarily help you in retaining information. According to him, scrolling “took a lot of mental resources that could have been spent comprehending the text [enough to memorize it] instead.”
And this effect isn’t just limited to eBooks. When we read online content like articles or website copy on a device, our eyes tend to move in an “F” shape:
- Across the top of the page to read the headline
- Down the left side of the page for bullet points and numericals
- Across the page again to read any bolded text or subheadlines
If you think about it, the “F” of a page is only about half of the actual page. 😱
Compare this with print reading, where we actually read across the page. The landscape of a text—most pronounced in paper books—is crucial to how we remember what we read, such as being able to navigate to a moment in the book by remembering its page number.
Of course, you may not remember a word of what you’ve just read since this is in fact, an online article. But if you could only have one takeaway, remember to always have balance in your reading habits and pick up a paperback every now and then! 📖