Thinking about the difference between rote memorization and exploratory research – in one, the pattern is given and, in the other, the pattern is found.
There’s something more natural about searching for a pattern amongst the noise and, extracting for yourself, what is salient. In the long run, these are the only things I remember.
There’s also a personal element to it. When I read a book nothing happens until I prove to myself that there’s more than just printed facts on the pages. It has to be more than facts, it has to be meaningful to me.
Otherwise, I read several pages and then realize I wasn’t paying attention. And really, this is scanning several pages for something related to my interests and not finding it.
When you do find something, what’s interesting is that it’s automatic – it “jumps out”. You don’t have control over what “catches your attention”.