Zettelkasten Forum


Recommend books on note-taking methods

Dear all,

I would like to learn more about note-taking methods. I’m interested in Zettelkasten and similar link-based methods primarily because I feel like it works for me.

Although the book How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking by Sönke Ahrens deals with this topic, based on the comments, it seems to be too voluminous compared to how many usable practices it contains.

Have you read it yet? What do you think about it? Is it worth buying for someone who has already dealt with the topic but wants to deepen their knowledge?

Are there any books that are definitely worth reading if I want to create a really good knowledge base?

Comments

  • @bimlas said:

    Although the book How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking by Sönke Ahrens deals with this topic, based on the comments, it seems to be too voluminous compared to how many usable practices it contains.

    Have you read it yet? What do you think about it? Is it worth buying for someone who has already dealt with the topic but wants to deepen their knowledge?

    I have read the "How to Take Smart Notes" book and found it relevant and helpful, with a good level (but not excessive) detail. It is suitable for a newcomer to the concepts but also has meat for those who have been at it for a while.

    I'm the kind of guy who walks into a store, say looking for a shirt, sees a shirt he likes, buys it, walks out, wears it. I don't shop around or try to optimize my purchase. If I happen to see something I like later, I might buy it, but also maybe not. Same goes with reading books - I have a look around to see what is available on a topic of interest, read it, then move on to something else. I don't worry too much about whether or not it was the perfect book for the topic; if it suits my needs, good enough.

    Having said that, I would recommend this book to anyone who asked. And I suggest reading it twice - once to get the idea and the second time to apply the concepts in the book to the book itself.

  • Any book in English for Zettelkasten system - part from Smart Note taking Book ? The one on the blog is in German !

  • Our friend Sascha is currently writing a book that includes all the aspects related to building and feeding a Zettelkasten. Look for an announcement soon.

    I've not found any books directly related to building a Zettelkasten - even Sönke Ahrens book is skimpy on this topic.

    Two books I can recommend on writing in a healthy way for the care and feeding of an established Zettelkasten. Not specifically related to creating a Zettelkasten

    1. The Art of Doing Science and Engineering by Richard Hamming
    2. The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into Words by Arthur Plotnik

    Here are a couple of long-form articles on the web that might be of interest.

    Of course, there is searching the forum here.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a Zettelnant.
    Research: Rationalism, Zen, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @drrujit said:
    Any book in English for Zettelkasten system - part from Smart Note taking Book ? The one on the blog is in German !

    When I finished the German Book I will press for a deal to translate it. I won't do it myself. :smile:

    But to start a Zettelkasten the material @Will presented is plenty. :smile:

    I am a Zettler

  • It's not specifically on note-taking, but the various blog posts on Bullet Journal have useful ways to think about what we log and why.

    I've also been reading through Umberto Eco's How to Write a Thesis and found it a useful guide to research.

    Observations logged here: write.as/via-poetica

  • edited August 10

    @Will said:
    Here are a couple of long-form articles on the web that might be of interest.

    @Will - thanks for these links. I've read the one by David B. Clear several times but hadn't seen the one by Al Khan. The latter has some helpful information in it and it addresses a number of issues that have been debated on this forum. It's worth reading, thinking about it, and incorporating some of the ideas into our own ZK practices.

    @drrujit - in response to your question, both of these articles recommended by @Will are excellent!

  • The best English book I know is Umberto Eco's already mentioned in this thread.

    I am a Zettler

  • Thanks everyone for updates

  • Thanks to everyone for the answer! Those books and links look promising, I’ll look into them.

    @drrujit,

    part from Smart Note taking Book ?

    You can read the first chapter here: http://takesmartnotes.com/download/725/

    A partial summary written by a friend: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/tiddlywiki/pBVtEa5CVYI/OqeTg7BpBAAJ

  • edited August 14

    I have bought the "How to Take Smart Notes" book on my kindle. I would echo some of the negative comments on Amazon in that much of the book is "background information", e.g. why it is important to take smart notes. I still think it is worth buying for the maybe 10% of the book which provides practical insights. If you skim the less-practical parts you can be done with it fairly quickly.

  • @ronnymuk said:
    I have bought the "How to Take Smart Notes" book on my kindle. I would echo some of the negative comments on Amazon in that much of the book is "background information", e.g. why it is important to take smart notes. I still think it is worth buying for the maybe 10% of the book which provides practical insights. If you skim the less-practical parts you can be done with it fairly quickly.

    Same here. What is worse is that I was reading the article from David B. before buying the book. David B. describes the digital Zettelkasten as a folder without subfolders. This concept is seemingly contradicting with the greater part of the book.

    It was not before reading the article from Al Khan that I realized the Zettelkasten is only a subsystem from a GTD like workflow.

    So read Al Khan first, then David B.

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • @zk_1000 said:
    It was not before reading the article from Al Khan that I realized the Zettelkasten is only a subsystem from a GTD like workflow.

    Hmmm...well, Zettelkasten has been around a lot longer than GTD, so maybe a better way to say it is that there are some similarities between the two. But if you truly think ZK is a subsystem of GTD, then you just don't understand ZK.

  • What came first in the history of humankind can inform if claims like "X is inspired by Y" are truthy, but when we talk about systems, chronological order of appearance is a totally different category than parent/child system relationships (of whole/part, system/subsystem, and what have you).

    Or in other words: When we talk about structure, time doesn't matter. (Please nobody throw stones because I mention "system" and "structure" so close to each other.)

    The GTD system has processes to deal with reference material. The Zettelkasten is a way to structure some reference material, and its process is compatible with the one from GTD.

    You can think of this as "plugging in" the Zettelkasten Method into an existing GTD workflow, for example. The Zettelkasten Method doesn't tell you what to do with tasks, so even though using a Zettelkasten is an older practice, it doesn't mean that it's the super-system that contains GTD. (It can contain knowledge about GTD, of course :))

    Even though GTD is a more recent invention, it encompasses "reference material" as a whole, and since a Zettelkasten can deal with that, you can say that someone's GTD system includes a Zettelkasten in it.

    @Sascha can probably come up with a good biological simile, like "Cells came before organs, but you can say that your liver has cells" or something like that :smile:

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • Dang @GeoEng51 , I don't like to be a backstabber, but I share Christian's opinion. :disappointed: A decade or so ago, @ctietze pitched GTD to me and we talked about the connection of the ZKM and GTD. Basically, we saw the ZKM as the perfect way of ordering what Allen coined as reference material.

    From the perspective of self-organisation everything needs to be a subsystem of the govering system you are using to create the general work flow of ones day and life. Even the Westside Barbell Method (Strength Training) could be seens as a subsystem of GTD. :)

    However, as Luhmann observed that some subsection of his Zettelkasten took over a good portion of his whole Zettelkasten, one could argue that the Zettelkasten Method will dominate the parent system GTD and forces it to revolve round this one subsystem. This is not yet my case but it is my aim.

    I am a Zettler

  • @ctietze @sfast

    I get your points. However, I don't need to know anything about GTD to build and use a ZK effectively. In my mind, they are independent of one another, but could certainly be beneficially used in tandem.

Sign In or Register to comment.