I have began to start studying history. I realized my foundational knowledge was poor at best and I wanted to get a large, general overview of the creation of Western Civilization.
In doing so, I have figured out a system for efficiency and retainability.
- Select a Book
To start, I selected a broad, long book to give me a taste of a majority of the civilization through the years. I chose Western Civilization by Jackson Spielvogel. It includes maps, and piece of literature of the civilization in question along with being written in an orderly and effective way.
You want a book which is broad enough to give ample time to each civilization proportional to its world impact.
2. Take Notes while you Read
This is personal preference but I ALWAYS retain the information better when
I write the key points and epiphanies out. Writing notes while reading helps memory greatly, as you are not only reading it but physically transcribing it onto paper. The reason to do this is not to remember every fact and little detail, but rather to retain enough to have an intelligent discussion on it. Cornell notes, bullet points, I don’t care. The point remains: write it out.
The other point is to systemize your reading. Maybe it is only 10 pages a day, but everyday. Over time, once your reading comprehension increases and one gets more comfortable taking notes, up the pages.
3. Find the topic which interests you the most and get a specialized book on that civilization
Once you have the whole of western (eastern, african, American or world, too) civilization written out, repeat steps 1-2 on a book of a particular which most interest you and dive deeper in that one society. Whenther it is something as magnificent as Rome or as niche as the Phoenicans, all histories teach you something epigenetic about ourselves and the greater society.
4. Keep narrowing the field.
Once you have a general history and the civilization history in the bag, move on to the nuanced texts of the time. These include philosophical works, poetry and religous texts. Along with this, secondary source pieces written by field experts in topics such as warfare or politics during this time are always good.
5. Repeat yearly.
By doing this system daily, you can acquire immense knowledge on a civilization during the span of a year. Five years? You now have deep knowledge on the workings of five or six historical civilizations under your belt.
On your own time.
For probably less than $100.