Reading is one thing, but remembering is something else. I love the experience of reading while I’m in it, but sometimes I wish the results were not so ephemeral. There are so many times a title is called to mind and I think “I know I read that — but I don’t remember anything about it!” It’s only after several rereadings, usually, that much begins to stick.
One of the things I appreciate about blogging is that it helps me to cement my memory of a book; the process of writing a post makes me reflect in a more conscious way than usual. And I have a written record in case I want to go back and jog my memory.
But the ones that don’t make it onto the blog — even the ones I really liked at the time — soon dissipate into faint wisps of recollection, along with all the other books from the past. When I’m asked for recommendations, or something rings a bell and I think “Didn’t I read a book like that?” it’s lost in the vast uncatalogued archive of my brain and I can seldom dredge up the details.
What could I do? Some possibilities are:
- Read every book at least twice (unless I already know it’s not worth remembering)
- Keep a reading journal – including thoughts and significant passages as well as title and author
- Take at least brief notes on each book read, maybe just one sentence
- Be less distracted when reading; don’t do other things at the same time, read one book at a time
Re-reading everything is not practical because it takes up too much time that I’d like to give to other books, and journaling and note-taking are cumbersome. I hate interrupting the flow of reading to think about it, and it’s unlikely I will ever manage to carry a notebook and pen around with me everywhere along with my book.
Perhaps I could discipline myself to at least record a few thoughts once I’ve finished the book. For some reason I have great resistance to this as well — the books I have something to say about usually end up in blog posts, and I don’t like pressuring myself when such thoughts don’t spring naturally to mind. But maybe I would get used to it after a while. Same thing with reading in a less distracted, fragmented way — it doesn’t come naturally, though I’m sure it would be good for me.
Do you have a better system for remembering what you read? Any ideas to help me out? My aging memory may be a lost cause, but I do wish I could find a way to make it stronger in this department.