When I first started book blogging, I remember I would see people say things like “I can’t remember the characters’ names” and I would hardcore roll my eyes. I would think things like, geez, are these people even paying attention to what they read? How can I trust their review of a book if they can’t even remember something as basic as character names!
These days I find myself forgetting character names all the time. Sometimes immediately after finishing a book I can’t even remember the MAIN FREAKING CHARACTER’S name. So I’ve got a lot more sympathy for bloggers who forget. (And for the record, no I can’t always just go check because I get a lot of books from the library!)
So what changed?
It’s not hard to pinpoint. Prior to starting a book blog I averaged around 20 books each year. Last year I read more than 60 books.
There’s a couple obvious reasons that reading more books would cause you to not remember them as well. If I’m reading more books, it obviously means I’m reading them a lot faster. So theoretically if I’m reading faster I might not be reading as deeply as I used to. (I truly don’t think this is the case for me personally, but might totally be a thing for other people.)
The other option, the one I think is probably true for me, is that I’m not spending as much physical time with a book. Instead of spending two weeks reading a story I’m spending 5-7 days. That’s about half the time! That means half as many nights I’ve had to convert that information into long-term memory. Half as many days to tell the people around me what I’m reading about. (Which means there’s a good chance I haven’t gotten to talk to anyone about it.) Half as many days to think that person’s name on my way to work.
Side-bar, when I was reading fewer books I also think I took the time to slow down and sound-out character names I was less familiar with, whereas now I frequently catch myself calling a character A——n while I’m reading. That can’t help!
The other big difference in my reading habits since I’ve started blogging is that I’ve basically stopped re-reading books.
I used to obsessively re-read, especially favorites. Most of the books I bothered to keep on my bookshelf are books that I either have re-read or wanted to re-read. What’s the point in keeping a book if you aren’t going to read it again? I figured. Favorite books I had likely re-read multiple times. So it’s no wonder I knew the character’s names so well!
I’ve gotten really stuck on this idea of character names as the basis for remembering a book well, and I absolutely don’t want it to come across that if you forget a character name you can’t remember the rest of the book! I’m using this as an easy example of how I personally remember books.
Because, the thing is, I have noticed that I remember A LOT LESS about what I read than I used to. Character names (and place names!) are a simple thing to identify, but I used to be able to more or less re-tell a book when I was done reading it. Summarize, if you will. Even years later! These days, I find I often can’t remember the middle of a book, or the surprise ending. I’ll have forgotten side-characters or side-quests altogether.
And y’all, I don’t like it.
I miss re-reading my books. I miss knowing the books on my bookshelf better than the back of my own hand. I know there are SO MANY books out there that I want to read and haven’t, but at what expense? NOT reading the books I already know I love and have halfway forgotten?
I think it’s time for a real heart-to-heart with myself. I can’t go on like this. (But I also can’t go on with 95 books on my tbr, so what’s a girl to do????)
Do you find that you have a hard time remembering books? How detailed is your memory for books later on?