Adler Part 4: What Now?!
Welcome to Part 4 of our note-taking series based on my own process developing from digital note-taking. If you just stumbled across this post you should consider checking out the First Three Parts here: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3. Alright, with that piece of business out of the way let's dive in.
We've moved through some simple and yet powerful questions so far on our journey to dissect a book and make sure our notes are top-notch. How are you feeling at this point? Are you overwhelmed? Feeling good about where you stand with your notes? One of the most important things to remember is that these are your notes. You have to be happy with them! You have to think there is value in the process and value in the tactile experience of writing things down to be reviewed later on. Otherwise, proceed with caution! Note-taking really is about self-development and yet it's not for everyone.
Having just finished questioning the integrity of the author in Part 3, we move on to the final question and it's a simple one.
Question 4: What Of It?
This is where the question gets personal. What of it? What does this book mean to you at this point? You've been through the pages, questioned what the book was about, the main arguments and whether we believed it. Now we have to turn the question to ourselves. What do we ultimately think about this book based on what we know?
It's a big question and depending on where you are on your reading journey your answer could differ depending on when you read a book. Do you often wonder why people will revisit a book years later? Sometimes it is to fulfill this very question. I've often found myself revisiting a book that I enjoyed 10 years ago recognizing my lens has changed. We are always building up our own base knowledge and so it's important to try and fit the books we read into what we know or what we don't know.
In many cases, the author has written this book for a reason and it's up to you to determine whether you need to know these things. You now have the power to reflect on whether this information is something you will retain or dump. It's a big question because it will ultimately help you formulate your own base layer of knowledge as you move forward. Every book has some type of impact on us but we often don't spend time thinking about what the impact is. Now you have the chance to really think about it!
The power of note-taking is that we crystallize those ideas on the page. We take the emotion and knowledge that is fresh in our minds and put it down on the page. You've closed the book and now you get to crystallize how you view the book. I've even heard that some people like to make take notes right after finishing while it's fresh and then revisiting a day or two later after they've had time to really think about the ideas. As Ryan Holiday says in Stillness is the Key:
"We want to sit with doubt. We want to savor it. We want to follow it where it leads."
This is the time! This is where you get to savor the doubt or the excitement.
Alright, that's it for now. I hope you enjoyed the four-part series on note-taking as inspired by Mortimer Adler's How to Read. It's been helpful revisiting these questions in writing the blog posts so it's been a positive for me as well. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments or reach out on IG to discuss! Look forward to hearing from you!