I was just wondering the other day how much do we retain of the books we really super deliciously love.
My memory’s gotten completely terrible as I get older. I was trying to come up for an idea for a Nostalgia Lane post, whereby I usually talk about a specific book or author or situation from way back that enabled my love of books and reading to flourish. I’ve done several of these since opening this place, but I knew it would probably be a topic that was exhausted sooner rather than later. I was a late reading bloomer, at least on the level where I voraciously consume books weekly, as often as possible. I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain Nostalgia Lane posts indefinitely because I’d eventually use up everything in my past that applied.
Then I got to thinking how we all, us reading nerds, remember that we love a book. We remember that glow and feeling of wondrous delight when we enjoy a book. But do we really remember in crystal-clear form why a book ranks high enough to be a favorite?
I’m betting some of you do, but there I go again with that terrible memory! What I do remember though, in patches, are memories of scenes in books that would come to me as my imagination fleshed out for my mind what I was reading. I can remember “seeing” several scenes from the Little House on the Prairie books, for example. How their homes looked, the settings of the many places they lived – that little cabin in the woods, and the plains at winter time with its harsh, unforgiving snow. Mind you, I was really little then, so I cherish the ability to remember anything of this nature from books I’d read back in the day. Another scene that has never, ever left my mind is when all the children come out of their homes and play with balls in exact time, like some practiced show, in Madelaine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and how one child screws up and everyone stops and goes back into their homes that all look exactly the same. I imagine, now, that this was an especially chilling moment for me in the book, and at the oddest times I find myself remembering it for no particular reason. It made a huge impression on me if I still retain it to this day, don’t you think?
This is one of the biggest reasons I began reviewing – to help myself, to enable me to be able to retain something about what I read. It’s turned out I still don’t retain a whole lot after a while. Quiz me at any random point and I’m not likely to remember character names, traits, etc. But these random little memories of mine, especially with books I’ve loved, now I do so love those. If I think about a book I’ve read, I can usually dredge up some memory of a book scene.
So in retrospect, when I look back and say that this or that was a book I loved, I’m pretty much relying on the memories that tell me so, that feeling that I do and would therefore recommend it to someone else. Is that enough? Honestly, I’d rather recall everything about a book in crystal-clear form, but I’ll take the memories for what they are – reminders that I’ve always loved books and always will.
What about you? What keeps that feeling of love for a book going strong for you? Do you tend to retain a lot of details about the books you’ve read?