Until recently, I’d use Moleskine notebooks for this purpose and, in fact, that’s what’s shown in the images accompanying this post. It’s the notebook friends and family are most likely to buy me for birthdays and Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that I’ve found something even better: LEUCHTTURM1917
These notebooks are pretty much identical to Moleskines, but with an crucial difference: the pages are numbered. This is important for indexing purposes, and it’s very tedious numbering each page individually!
The only other thing I’d point out is that I find the ‘dotted’ notebooks the best in terms of note-taking and quickly sketching. The dots don’t get in the way, but give you a scaffold if you need it. Ruled lines and squares are too distracting, and blank pages are just a bit too unstructured.
Finally, I’m a late convert to MUJI 0.38 black ballpoint pens. So many people mentioned them in various interviews (especially on Uses This) that I gave them a whirl and never looked back…
Last month, a new book came out entitled Digital Badges in Education: Trends, Issues, and Cases. At over £30, it’s the most expensive book I’ve purchased for a while, but thought it would provide some useful insights. And no, there’s no chapter from me in it: I seem to remember a call for contributions going out last year but I don’t work for free / less than my minimum day rate.
Over my discours.es blog I’ve been making notes on each chapter as I read it. So far I’ve completed Part I: Trends and Issues. As you’d expect from an edited collection, it ranges from the average to the excellent. One curious omission is an introduction from the editors.
The links below reference the titles of each chapter in Part I of the book. However, when you click through, you’ll notice that I’ve given my blog posts a different name. These, of course, are my own notes, highlights, and (in some cases) criticisms of the authors’ work.
During the summer holidays before I headed to university I worked in a secondhand bookshop on Broad Street in Oxford. And then, to help support myself during my MA in Modern History I worked in Waterstones bookshop in Newcastle. I love books.
But, despite my affection for the printed word, I still prefer, on balance, reading on my Kindle. One of the main reasons for this is the ease by which I can highlight sections of text (non-destructively) which are then available at kindle.amazon.com.
Whilst I’m waiting for everything that’s ever been written to be digitised I need a solution for physical books that is:
I think I’ve got that with the following system. Here’s what to do.
Sign up to Evernote. You can experiment with a free account but, like me, you’ll no doubt go Premium for the added data storage/transfer and functionality.
Install the Evernote app both on your computer and your smartphone (I’m using the iOS version)
When you start reading a new book, create a new notebook for it and take a photo of the front of the book. Title this first note something like Author (Date of publication) – Title, Place of publication: Publisher
Every time you come across something you want to make a note on, take a photo of the text. Add any comments or thoughts you have and title it something like Author – page number(s)
After syncing, Evernote provides OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on the text of images, so you could stop here as you’ve now got searchable notes from books (as promised in the title). However, I’ve gone one step further.
Now that the notes you want are in Evernote, it’s time to tidy them up and make the text copy-and-pasteable. Here’s what to do after carrying out steps 1-4 above:
Create a Book Clippings notebook
Sort the notes in the notebook to make ensure the note with the front cover is at the top
Select all of the notes, click on ‘Note’ in the top menu and then select Merge Notes
Type out the text you want from each photograph underneath it. Add the page number in brackets afterwards and delete the photo and references.
Repeat. Yes, this takes time.
Drag your tidied-up note into the Book Clippings notebook.
Start reading your next book.
I’ve found this an extremely effective way of getting searchable notes from physical books. As a bonus, you might want to try using Evernote’s Web Clipper to import your Kindle notes so that everything’s together in one place.
Have you tried this? Have you got a different system?
Something I’ve started doing recently has revolutionised my ability to synthesise my reading of stuff in paper books. Here’s what I currently do – although there’s probably ways I can improve it (and no doubt something similar is possible using other devices):
What we’re going to do is to take a picture of a section of text, tag it and add contextual (bibliographic) information, and then send it off to be synced by Evernote.
0. Set up a notebook for your quotations/notes. I use ‘Ed.D. thesis’.
1. Take picture of text
Click on the ‘Snapshot’ option in Evernote. Take your photo of the text you want to capture – make sure you focus correctly!
2. Fill in note details
The title should be something that summarises what you’ve taken a picture of. Tag it appropriately. Click on ‘Append note’ and fill in citation details. Make sure you ‘Select All’ and then ‘Copy’ so that the next time you do this you can use ‘Paste’ and just change the page number!
Once you’ve synced it will appear in Evernote on your desktop/laptop.
With all the notes in front of you, it’s easy to synthesise your thinking. It’s fully possible to just to this on the iPhone, but it’s easier given the features and screen real-estate on desktop or laptop.
I use a Moleskine notebook and a good old-fashioned pen for synthesising (or XMind depending on how I’m feeling). It works wonderfully! 🙂