How to memorize a 500 page book verbatim

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Firstly, lets take a moment to think that learning a text VERBATIM is normally completely unnecessary. If you want to recall a book then use a memory palace and store the core ideas as images related to the concepts.

I don’t want to appear an arse, but this method seems far too much work to be practical. If you can do it, good for you, I applaud your effort but I do think other methods may give as good results, and with less work.

My comments here gives an idea for breaking a book down over several sections and then using a palace and spaced repetition to learn the material: Spaced repetitions for entire extensive textbooks. And Bateman has the Guide to memorizing a book which goes through several steps of increasing depth.

Learning (developing understanding) material from a book is often best done by testing, see the 20 rules of formulating knowledge in learning. Really truly comprehending data will trump verbatim recall with little understanding every time.

My own technique for learning VERBATIM is to reduce the sentences to initials and then read back the initials, this gives a “tip of the tongue” moment which is important in learning and you also don’t just practice reading the material but have to recall it. I take the sections of about half a page and read the encoded material, only looking back at the original where necessary.

I then test myself, most often using Anki for spaced repetition using a variety of styles of cards of increasing difficulty.

The entire sections of initials I also schedule using the 2 ^ (n -1) so I keep reading the entire sections through. As I get better I combine sections together so half a page becomes a page, then two and so on. After several months I’m reading back half a dozen pages per test.

I also use other techniques as necessary, such as adding movement to difficult passages to help cement in parts where I get confused or forgetful. Gesturing makes learning last: Susan Wagner Cook, Zachary Mitchell, and Susan Goldin-Meadow. I also try to break up my study habits so will test in different environments and at different times.

Learning a piece verbatim is really only necessary for actors, rabbis, immans, priests and those needing to perform word perfect recitals. Normally comprehending the material is far more useful.