Avid reader or not, we all have trouble remembering what we read. I know I do. Forgetting what we read can be discouraging, so is there anyone out there that can give us some advice on what to do? C.J. Mahaney provides some encouraging words here that have personally helped me and I hope they help you too.
I have friends who can accurately reference specific footnotes from books they read 20 or more years ago! Those friends not only read a lot, they remember just about everything.
I find this very discouraging.
I recently finished A. Lincoln, a 676-page biography by Ronald C. White, Jr. And yet when I closed the book and communicated to others how much I enjoyed the book, there was really only one sentence I clearly remembered—which is one reason why I dog-ear and mark paragraphs and sentences in my books.
I try to read a lot but unfortunately I forget a lot, too. (Did I mention how discouraging this is?) But over the years I have read many unforgettable sentences and paragraphs that have made a lasting impact on my thinking and on my ministry.
Is reading worth the time investment when so much is forgotten? John Piper says yes. In a message long ago (July 12, 1981) he said this:
What I have learned from about twenty-years of serious reading is this: It is sentences that change my life, not books. What changes my life is some new glimpse of truth, some powerful challenge, some resolution to a long-standing dilemma, and these usually come concentrated in a sentence or two. I do not remember 99% of what I read, but if the 1% of each book or article I do remember is a life-changing insight, then I don’t begrudge the 99%.
Read, but not to remember everything. Read because that 1% that you remember has to potential to change your life.
Although I remember only one sentence from A. Lincoln, that sentence has informed my leadership in a number of ways.
So keep reading.