The Fear in Forgetting What I Have Read

“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”
―Friedrich Nietzsche 

Hello! It’s been a while since I posted something aside from reviews, and from now on, I would like to include more things outside of the reviews to keep things interesting! I have a number of things planned, such as a deeper analysis of the books I have read, and more posts such as this one! I hope you enjoy a small sharing of my thoughts and experience 😀

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Reading has been one of my primary approaches to make me feel better in a number of senses. By flipping the pages of a book, absorbing the information contained within the sentences of the books, admiring the beauty of the words written, I would often get lost in a world beyond reality, freeing myself from the burdens and even obtaining some sort of guilty pleasure by escaping my responsibilities (assignments? 😛 ) as a new reality is constructed by me when I read. When reading and during the moments of being engrossed in one particular book, the words found on the pages ARE my reality; within the joyful confinement of those words, where I can let myself free at anytime yet I find myself incapable of doing so due to the sheer pleasure I obtain from reading, I am already liberated. Such is the euphoric state I am possibly in while reading a really good book or one that is simply to my liking. However, despite my fondness for writing, there is one thing preventing me from being ‘a confident reader’. Like clot of an unknown substance inside my head, there is a certain fear rising within whenever I finish a book.

“Will I forget?”

Usually, whenever I finish a book, I will remember most of the elements within that book, from the plot, the twists and turns the characters, basically most of the events unfolding in the book. After a few weeks, however, the images which used to be so clear, so vivid start to deteriorate before gradually vanish altogether, leaving only the general plot development and a few core-character names behind. An example would be from Haruki Murakami’s “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage”, in which as of the time of this writing, I could only remember the characters and their relationships along with the core-plot development. Being a book with so many philosophical discussions and metaphors, I really enjoyed it. Ironically, those metaphorical narratives that I liked so much were the ones I started to forget first. Right now, I can no longer remember the flow of discussions Tsukuru had with Ao, for example, aside from the general idea that it was about Tsukuru’s questioning and Ao’s lack of idea.

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This is the ‘problem’ that I face, not only with that particular book, but also numerous others. I read “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki” twice for the sake of remembering more, but even after that, the memory of the good times simply crumble, leaving only the foundations of the story. Haunted by this enigma, where I constantly ponder on what makes me forget the things that I like so much, I would feel that I might not be able to say with brimming confidence that “I am a good, avid reader who has read a lot of books” since most of the time, I forget numerous details about those books, resulting in me being able to say “yeah, I have read that one”, but unable to actively participate in a discussion regarding the book.

I would re-read them or open certain pages whenever I feel uncomfortable by not being able to recall certain developments, but this does not actually solve the issue at hand. Moreover, there are so many books I would like to read, and I wouldn’t have the time to finish them if I re-read those books whenever I feel my recollection of them is declining. Regardless, whether this is a matter of bad-memory or not, I still like reading, and will definitely read for many years to come, if not forever until my time ends, since I believe reading is such a wonderful thing to do. I do hope that “a good reader” is not measured by how well he or she remembers, but rather, how one’s view towards reading really is.

Do you also experience issues similar to this? or perhaps there are some suggestions? Feel free to share it here! 😀

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4 thoughts on “The Fear in Forgetting What I Have Read

  1. Jules Mortimer says:

    I’ve had ME/CFS for many years, but just under a decade ago I had a severe relapse that caused further damage to my brain. One of those issues is my memory. Although I can remember things from twenty or thirty years ago as if they happened yesterday, I struggle to remember what I ate 2 hours ago.

    I do not remember books. As a reviewer and blogger this can make things very difficult. I’m unable to really discuss books with others, as I just can’t remember enough detail of the plot, so tend not to get involved in discussions online about a particular book. I have to write reviews very soon after reading a book, and also always have a notebook with me while reading, so I can write down the characters to help me remember who is who, and I also scribble down any storyline details or feelings I would like to include in my reviews.

    My memory can be triggered by someone reminding me of main plot details, and I do photographically remember certain scenes from books, and often remember how the book made me feel. In fact, these feelings can be surprisingly strong. You can imagine the situation, a friend or fellow reviewer mentions a book we both loved, I sound all excited and overly enthusiastic, declaring I loved it too. When asked which part I liked best I have to respond with I haven’t a clue because I can’t remember the book. End of conversation, ha ha. 🙂

    At first it bothered me, as I always had such a good memory before, but now I’m used to it, and there is nothing I can do about it, so I just enjoy a book, share my love of it as soon as possible afterwards, then promptly forget it and move onto the next one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheAliceFan says:

      Hello! I know that it might be tough at times….but it is good to know that doesn’t prevent you from doing what you love! You still read books, and you are writing your opinion about them, sharing them with the world! 😀

      I do believe that for you to be a good reader, you don’t have to remember the book’s details. Rather, when you enjoy the book, or even at times, emotionally involved with it, you are already one! Regardless of the memory after reading it, as long as you can recall the images constructed inside your mind while reading, or even have that nostalgic, wonderful feeling within you, that is already great! You don’t need to actively discuss the book with others and remember every meticulous detail; rather, the fact that you know you love, hate, or even don’t feel anything in particular about the book, you are already a reader. I forget books fairly often too, but I still enjoy it!

      That’s what makes books amazing; they are always there for everyone, and they can instill values along with emotions within one’s self subconsciously. We might forget about their plot and messages, but somewhere in our mind, they are still there.

      And we know it.

      Thanks for sharing! You are amazing! I wish you all the best in your blogging and reviews! will read your future sharing in your blog, too! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. AB says:

    I don’t think remembering all the details of the books you have read necessarily makes one a good reader. There are many books I forget, but some really good ones never leave my mind. Especially Agatha Christie – I have read most of her books and I know the ending to every one. I may not know the character’s name but I will remember that “the butler did it”. Its a shame because I would love to re-read some of them. I think I remember more books that I read when I was in you teens and 20s than now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheAliceFan says:

      Yes! I also remember the core points, but sometimes, it is the other elements of the story that makes reading interesting! In the case of detective or mystery novels, I think that points such as “how did they die” and “how did the protagonist identify the culprit” or even “why did the culprit become the culprit” are interesting points! Sadly, I often forget those developments after a while…. that is why I re-read books despite knowing their endings 😀

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Like

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