15.8.08

Memory failure

When people ask about what I've read this summer, and I mention the Summer Reading Challenge, they blanch. I remind them that the vast majority are larger print, lots of white space and under 200 page books.

The question that usually follows is: How do you remember everything you read?

Short answer: I don't.

Long answer: I do, but not in the way you might think. So much of what I read is, well, less than memorable. I usually have to look at the cover, or the summary, to remember what I thought. When it's genre fiction, it's even more difficult. I mean, really, look at the works of Nero Wolfe: I can remember The Golden Spiders just fine, but the differences between Three at Wolfe's Door, Three Doors to Death, Three for the Chair and Three Men Out? Not so much.

Children's/YA Literature is much the same. There are so many "trends" (the new Harry Potter... the next "Twilight"... abusive family situation... poor but really talented... Time To Learn An Important Message About Tolerance... you get the picture) and they do tend to run together. That's how I judge a good book: does the plot, the writing and the characters transcend the obvious pre-influences and subgenre? If yes, I'll remember the book far better.

As my Challenge winds down (won't get to all of the remaining 29 in the next two weeks, but we'll see how many more I can read!), I'm thinking about those standout books. Look for a post sometime in September touting the best.

1 comment:

Sherri said...

One reason I crawl through lists and shelves on GR looking for pre-1980's YA and children's lit is that I can't remember many books I read before then until I see a cover or a title, or even read a synopsis -- at which time the book will flood back to me.

Memory is so damned tricky.