Guide to memorizing a book


#1

This is my guide on how to memorize a book(since everyone asks).

I will try to keep this as succinct as possible. Before reading, one should have read the getting started guide, and be familiar with memory palaces, linking, etc.

IMHO, there are five main ways to memorize a book. Way 1: Memorize just the title and author. Way 2: Memorize title, author and the table of contents/main plot points. Way 3: Memorize a couple main ideas and/or quotes from each chapter. Way 4: Memorize the main idea of each paragraph, along with some complete passages. Way 5: Memorize the book verbatim, that is, every single word.

You should choose with each book you read how much you want/need to memorize out of it. How much detail? Do you just need some quotes? Do you need some complete passages? Do you just want to know the main plot points? Or is it only the title and author?

In this guide, we will be going over Way 2, Way 3 and Way 5. You can extrapolate how to complete the other 2 from these.
We will be using the book “The Prince” by Niccolò Machiavelli from here.

Way 2

For Way 2, we need approximately 14 loci, since there are 26 chapters in the book(we can memorize 2 per locus), and we need a locus or two for the title and author.

First, starting off with the title and author in the first and second loci. Title: What represents “The Prince” to you? Maybe it’s that guy from game of thrones? Maybe it’s just his crown. Or maybe, it’s represented by the chair on the right side of the kings throne. Whatever represents “The Prince” to you, use it and place it in the first locus. Either connected to the first image in locus 1, or just placed in locus 2, you will have whatever you can imagine “Niccolò” as. Maybe it’s someone you know named Nick or Nicola. Or it’s a knee drenched in cola. Either connect it to image 1, or place it in locus 2. Same thing with Machiavelli. I just imagine Tupac. Could be some politician who was described as Machiavellian. Could be macaroni with a veil over it. Whatever comes to you first usually works best.

Moving on to locus 3, and the first chapter. It’s called “HOW MANY KINDS OF PRINCIPALITIES THERE ARE”. It’s the same idea. Turn that into an image. For me, it’s a giant question mark with a bunch of disjointed states each with their own prince oscillating around it. Locus 3 still(Linked to the previous image): "CONCERNING HEREDITARY PRINCIPALITIES " King on his deathbed is giving his prince son a “state”(Like a literal piece of a map). Locus 4: "CONCERNING MIXED PRINCIPALITIES " Part of a state is black, part of it is white, and they’re gray in the middle, the gray is moving back and forth.

Then you do that for the other ~20 chapters. It really is that easy. The point isn’t to follow my images, it’s to think up of your own. I’m just giving you examples, ones that I literally came up with on the spot in half a second. First things to pop into my head. This way, (in novels and such) you will know the plot exactly, and the author and the book title. I recommend at the very least always to memorize just the author and book title, you seem to retain much more, plus you get to see just how many books you’ve read. End of Way 2.

Way 3

Main Ideas and/or quotes from each chapter. This time, you will need some more loci. Let's say we want 3-4 ideas or quotes from each chapter. We will need ~50 loci. You can choose whether to memorize the chapter titles or not. For this particular book, it would make sense, since they explain very clearly what the chapter is about.

Look at chapter 5. It’s quite a short chapter, 3 paragraphs. We can take the main idea of each paragraph and turn it into an image. This is the same idea as when memorizing the title/chapters, but the images will be more complex as we want to capture as much of the idea as possible.

(You have to read chapter 5 first paragraph) There are 3 boxes in the first locus. The first box is broken in half and burning, the second is turned into a makeshift home, and the third has a smaller green box inside of it(friendly oligarchy). The third box is also made of gold, to signify that it’s the best choice. (Once again, this is my take, this is my example, if you think of something different, use that. )

Chapter 5 2nd paragraph(linked to the first image of 3 boxes): I imagine a man painted in the colors of america(land of the free(but home to the largest prison population)). Someone is trying to put chains on his hands. He succeeds for a couple seconds, and then americaman breaks the chains and kills that man(be creative :)). (If you’re confused, Machiavelli says that once the people of a land have been free, no matter how long ago, they will eventually rise up and destroy you)

Chapter 5 3rd paragraph(Linked or in new locus. I recommend 3 linked items per locus): In a dining hall(with a large table, a throne for the king, small crowd, booze, etc), someone comes up to the king and kills him. He takes his crown and sits on his throne. The people are slow to react, they don’t know what happened. After a couple seconds though, they start clapping and cheering for their new lord.

That’s it for Way 3. Main ideas become turned into complex images, and put into loci. This(or Way 4) is what I recommend people do for books that are really really good. You remember the main ideas in order, you remember what is in each chapter, what each chapter is, you know the plot, the author and the title. What more could you want? Oh right, you want to memorize every single word of the book… Well, that’s coming. Soon.

Way 5

(To be continued..)

Bateman


New Member: MimKoRn - Slovakia. Music learning? Book-focused, practical.
#2

Way 5

Memorizing every single word in a book. Or in other words, memorizing the book verbatim. I recommend against this unless you use it for memorizing passages from books, or for idealistic religious reasons. Normal books are simply not good enough for them to be memorized completely.

Let’s go to a chapter of Machiavelli’s we haven’t looked at yet. Chapter XXIV or you could say Chapter 24. It is no accident that this happens to be one of the shortest chapters in the book, because memorizing a text verbatim takes a lot of effort.

This method requires multiple images for every sentence. Ideally, one would have one or less images per sentence, but this text is quite verbose, with long drawn out sentences. There are only 9 sentences in this chapter, but there are over 500 words in them. We will need approximately 20 loci for this one(shortest) chapter.

Follow the link to follow my imagery.

Edit: I decided to include the sentence, to make it easier to follow: “The previous suggestions, carefully observed, will enable a new prince to appear well established, and render him at once more secure and fixed in the state than if he had been long seated there.”

Sentence 1: “The previous…observed”: Following the theme of The Prince, my image for this is someone looking through a microscope onto an image where someone else is whispering into a kings ear. “Will… established”: Someone is holding up a will and the prince next to him is standing very straight and “established”. “and render… seated there”: Similar image to the previous, except he is very secure in some handcuffs and leg cuffs, and next(or in like a thought bubble or something) to him is his older self sitting very loosely and lazily in his chair.

That’s it for sentence one. I’m not going to do the rest, I think you get the point.

The key for this and the other “Ways” to be successful is to review properly. You will want to keep your images in mind as you recite what the sentence is. When you are reciting “The previous suggestions, carefully observed,” you will for the whole time have the image of microscope looking at someone whispering into kings ear. Same for everything else. For all the other ways. Recite the sentences or titles, or summaries, or main points, everything, while imagining the images in your head. Do this several times the first day, review the second day, the fourth day, a week later, and then a couple weeks after that. The review schedule is vital to memorizing a book, or anything really, successfully. Also check out posts on spaced review by looking up spaced review in the search box, and this wiki page on it.

Feel free to add your own thoughts, and any intelligent questions you may have to the comments.

Bateman

PS: Here is the only other good guide I’ve seen on how to memorize a book. To be fair, it’s also the only one I’ve seen period. It’s not as specific though, but mine is because people that ask are usually fairly new to mnemonics, have just heard of them, and right away want to memorize a book.


#3

WOW this topic is great!
(Bateman has a gun to my head, someone please help me)

But, all jokes aside. This actually was a informative topic. I certainly am surprised not many people are interested in this. But either way, thank you, Bateman. This topic actually helped me a lot.


#4

Nice job Bateman

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication to memory sports!

Much appreciated


#5

Your “Way 5” is awesome, Bateman. Pure gold.

Dean Vaughn, on the other hand, advises against using memory pegs that are based on adjectives (“established”), because the English language is full of synonyms. He goes so far as to transform “our Fathers” in “hourglass Fathers”. Maybe he’d use a “stag” and a “preacher” - barely sounding alike, but two nouns and, maybe, a memorable scene by itself.


#6

Thank you all.

Emanuel, that’s the point and goal of review; to get the exact wording memorized using your natural memory, but like lyrics to a song, you need some sort of prompt to get to them, which is the image.

Bateman


#7

Andromeda, flawless promotion of the guide. You can be free. And don’t worry, it was only a nail gun. Wasn’t even connected to an air compressor. 02xv9.jpg

Ray, you are very welcome, and I am glad you approve of it. And, hint hint, I’m going to be giving a lot more to the community soon.

Emanuel, to quote some random movie; “Am I bread that I need to be buttered so heavily?” Or perhaps I should continue and quote Bateman himself: “slaps hand away Your compliment was sufficient.”

As I’ve said in the previous comments, the review is a very vital part, just as vital as the encoding and memorization itself. Review isn’t just looking over the images, it’s about filling in any vagaries of imagination you may have had, its about getting the little details that mean a lot.

Bateman


#8

Cant wait to see what you have for us!


(jyoti n) #9

EXcellent job sir


#10

Thanks Jyoti N.

Raykidwell pointed out a great blog post in another thread. It touches on many of the same ideas as this guide, of there being levels of detail you want to remember, progressing through them. Very interesting post.

Bateman


#11

Nathan Latka founder and owner of soon-to-be billion dollar company Heyo uses a specific routine when he reads books to memorize their most important or interesting points. I think we can help him with the memorization part. Here is his routine, as described by him here, is to read 3 books a week; 2 which are business related, and 1 biography, which end up being around one thousand pages total. . While reading he marks down anything he finds really important, books he wants to check out, and people he finds interesting, then waits a week after finishing the book, then goes back and takes notes of the things he marked down before. It usually turns out to be more than a page, so he filters down the most useful stuff until it’s only a page long.

For memorization and review, Nathan reads that one page every day for 90 days, then once a quarter, once a half-year, then once a year. I think this is the part where we can help the most. With memory techniques to memorize that whole page, and spaced review, it could save him a lot of time.

  • Nathan start here
Mnemonics use mental images and stories to optimize memorization and learning. We aren't good at remembering words or abstract concepts normally, but we are good at remembering images and stories. We then mentally "place" those stories in "memory palaces" to categorize them, store and organize them.

If you had a one page summary of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall , you could memorize it with memory techniques by using scenes from one of his movies, ie Terminator. You would place Arnold in the first scene, along with the title, perhaps a thought bubble above Arnolds head that has a crystal clear image of the ending of the movie. Then you would place your first sentence of the one-page in the next scene of the movie, Ie: Arnold ran away from the army to go to a bodybuilding competition, you would imagine him running half-naked, all muscled up, with tanks behind him. You do this for the whole page, then review once or twice.

Just like that, you have memorized the whole page, better than if you just read it over and over 10 times.

To review, you simply go over all the scenes and their corresponding images thinking of what the sentence is. Youu will probably come up with your own schedule for review, but one that works for me is :next day, +3 days, +7 days, +15 days, +30 days, then every 3 months, or even less.

If you want more information, feel free to make an account here, and either comment, or message me, I will be glad to answer any questions you might have. These techniques will require some initial investment of time, perhaps 10 hours, but they increase your comprehension, reduce the amount of time it takes to memorize material, and greatly reduce your review time.

  • End Nathan
  • This technique is pretty much the same as I use for most books I read, I didn’t mention it in the original post since it’s not technically memorizing the whole book, it’s just the important points.

    To summarize: Take 1 page of notes, memorize it using memory techniques, then review using spaced repetition for optimal learning.

    Bateman


    #12

    Thanks Bateman, great OP.


    #13

    Thank you, Lance. Means a lot.

    Bateman


    #14

    Thank you, Bateman! :slight_smile:


    #15

    Hi Bateman. Thanks for your post it’s very helpful.

    I have a question that i made a topic for it but since you wrote that we can ask questions i will copy it here and i hope i will get an answer (It’s about memorizing ancient texts or words that you can’t find a “picture” to associate them with):

    I’ve read somewhere on the internet that people who learn ancient texts like religious texts tend to picture the words and the pages. That means when they recall it the image that they are seeing is a page filled with lines and dots and paragraphs. It’s not very efficient in general but for religious texts it can be useful since they are written in a vocabulary probably not used anymore and you won’t get the meaning but you will get the texts with you anywhere you go.

    The method that memory champions are using for memorizing words is association: They associate words with images. I know that it is very efficient and if i had to choose i would always remember by using images and associate them with the words…

    For memorization of random words, the second method is the best. But would you consider learning with first method? Has anyone tried it? Your opinions about learning things that are hard to “picture”?


    #16

    I would not use the first method. Maybe it’s doable for someone, but every time I tried to visualize numbers or words as themselves, I just forget them after ~4 digits or ~2 words.

    Maybe if you spent an hour a paragraph or so, then you could. But if you have that amount of time, just read it 30 times, and you can eventually ‘say’ it. Sort of like when you listen to a song 30 times, eventually you can just follow the train of words. It’s basically a audio-link chain. Can get broken very easily though; it’s best to use visuals and memory palaces for structure, along with links.

    Bateman


    #17

    I am experimenting with the first method and i must admit it takes time, and the problem that i have with this method is the CHOICE of the texts/books. Let’s say you want to learn something and picture the words and the lines and the pages themselves: You are going to try to memorize the words as they are written in the page and the colors and the style of writing and everything that you see

    The problem that you may have is with reviewing… If you want to review the material that you are trying to memorize you can’t do it with a book who has different size, fonts,… That’s why religious people have their own book, and i believe that’s how people were learning books when they weren’t easy to get.

    Now, i think the problem is for those who are learning subjects like politics, medicine, law,… At the university and want to use this method. I don’t think you can because the books are being revised almost every year now and it’s not a surprise for me that people now really can’t remember pages of anything, except for the smart ones who save their own version of stuff that they find useful.

    I believe that it is the same method or the same way of memorizing than when you are taking notes, and i am not saying it is an efficient way to learn. But it may be useful for those who doesn’t have the time to actually understand the terms and concepts that they are learning because they are too many or maybe too abstract.


    (Valor 4 Victory) #18

    Thank you for this!! it is very insightful, works perfectly with the SQR3 note taking method. Ingenious!!


    #19

    Very informative :). However would have been nice to read your mental images/scence for at least 10 chapters, and how you linked it / placed it in locis, as it all happend in your brain. I mean without the “this or that”, “either that or that”, “than link it or place it in a loci”.

    More details from your process in other words. And to use a real text-book, most textbooks have sub-chapters, how would you deal with them? Would it just be a link, i.e. last subchapter from chapter 1 leads to chapter 2. Or each part of a memory palace “belongs” to a specific chapter. So you know to which chapter a specific part of information belongs, which transition from chapter to chapter would u use.


    #20

    Hi Bateman, I’m going to memorize my neurology book, it’s 120 pages full of details, I calculated about 60000 words and I have to know 20000 words exactly, so one third of it. I have to know a verbatim of 20000 words.

    I know loci method, ben system and pao, and I have a schedule made up of 100 images for each method.

    There are 100 chapters, about one chapter per page. These 20000 words are divided in about 10000 images (for example ‘optical nerve’ is an image).

    I hope you have some advice.

    Happy new year :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: