I Can’t Remember What I’ve Forgotten

My memory for books is rotten. I am definitely the Neville of books.

gif i can't remember what i've forgotten hp

The vast majority of books I read go in one ear and out the other. When discussing a book I’ve read a ways in the past, my dear friend Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) often does the internet equivalent of patting me on the head and goes “oh, your memory.” This would probably piss me off if she weren’t a hundred percent correct; my memory is useless. Ask me about something I’ve read more than a couple of months ago, and probably all I’ll know is that I read it and maybe a general reaction. For Gillian, if she doesn’t remember a book well after that amount of time, it’s a sign of some sort of flaw in the book. For me, it’s the opposite: books I find I remember in more detail than others I know have a certain special extra something, because I know it can’t be attributed to me.

gif i remember casper

In the bulk of reviews I write, I have to look up character names. And I don’t just mean secondary characters. I mean that I have to look up the MC’s name. This is made worse by the fact that in almost all instances I write the review the moment I finish. I really wish I were joking. It’s especially difficult in first person books where the MC’s name isn’t said that much.

Putting together responses for Gillian’s Shippy Awards (which you should make sure to participate in was the WORST). I’d go to put a book in like YES THIS SHIP, and then I would realize I had no fucking clue what the characters names were, and I’d have to go look in my review. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.

gif barry facepalm the flash

There are times when my memory fail is a blessing. Fittingly enough, the best recent example is my Harry Potter reread. I took a couple months to finally read back through the series, something which was a long time coming. I remembered the first four pretty well, because I’d read each a number of times. Books five through seven however were almost like new. It’s nice to get to reread some of the most important and meaningful books over again like the first time. Not everyone gets to do that, and my memory lets me get really close. I do treasure this aspect, but I do wish I could control it.

Due to my memory, this year, I’ve started doing something I used to before blogging: reread the prior books in a series when a new one comes out. When I was a kid, I did this with Harry Potter and any of the other few series I followed along with back then. Now, though, obviously I read way more series, so that’s a huge time investment. If I were smarter, I’d be very careful about what series I start but 1) I lack willpower to wait 3+ years to get to read things and 2) a lot of series I start sneak up on me because GR didn’t warn me it was going to be a series.

gif surprise motherfucker

So far in 2015, I’ve reread the following books as precursors to their followups:

  1. The DUFF, even though it’s a companion, to prep for Lying Out Loud and as a reaction to seeing the movie version.
  2. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman because seriously Shadow Scale came out three years later are you kidding me.
  3. Illusive to prep for Deceptive.
  4. Graceling and Fire before finally reading Bitterblue. I am now out of Cashore books with no sign of one on the horizon.
  5. The Selection to embark on a questionably motivated read of the series. So far I’ve only gotten through The Elite.
  6. Landry Park before reading Jubilee Manor.
  7. The Diviners to prep for Lair of Dreams.
  8. The Clockwork Scarab because I didn’t remember it enough to read books The Spiritglass Charade and The Chess Queen Enigma and also because I wanted to wipe the audio version from my mind.
  9. Both The Burning Sky and The Perilous Sea before finishing off the Elemental trilogy with The Immortal Heights.
  10. I also reread the first four books in A Series of Unfortunate Events before dedicating myself to reading the whole series this time.
  11. I’m currently on Scarlet in my Lunar Chronicles reread as I get ready for Winter (please say nothing about this book).

I’ve been holding off on Queen of Shadows, Library of Souls, and The Vanishing Throne because I need to read their prior books again before I embark on these epic adventures. I don’t see this trend ending, because I want to have the fullest chance of enjoying the next book in the series.

gif lizzie bennet diaries i regret nothing

How is your bookish memory?

8 responses to “I Can’t Remember What I’ve Forgotten”

  1. I have the same problem! That’s part of why I started tracking what I read on Goodreads and writing reviews… I completely forget about what I’ve read even if I enjoyed it. The only books that I remember very much about are the ones that (a) I’ve obsessively read over and over or (b) hated with a burning passion (because apparently HATE it what fuels my memory-making neurons… which now that I think about it, explains kind of lot about my tendency to hold grudges for eternity). There are some that I have a vague “Oh! I liked that book!” feeling about, but if I don’t write a review somewhere or reread at least twice I probably can’t tell you a damn thing about it off the top of my head. Haha, I’m so glad I’m not alone in this!
    looloolooweez recently posted…The most wonderful time of the year?My Profile

  2. I write in a journal all the plots to books when I finish them. I can’t ever remember endings (or names of characters!!). I really like it when Goodreads has that list of character names at the top! Like sometimes it will have side characters names… and that is the BEST!! But they never have them often enough 🙁
    Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books recently posted…Share the Love Friday (1)My Profile

  3. Melanie says:

    I have this same problem! When I recommend books to people, I’m all “READ THIS! It was awesome, it had people who did things in places.” This is also why I’ve started obsessively using Goodreads to track what I’ve read because I’ve had way too many instances where I start reading a book and about half way through I remember I’ve read it already.

  4. I would say my bookish memory is pretty good, but recently I’ve had a couple of series where I definitely could have used a re-read. I’m currently in the middle of The Golden Specific and I sometimes feel a little lost. The world-building is pretty extensive and complex, so I guess that’s why I struggle right now.

    It really depends on the story, how the author continues the story in the sequel & how much time there is between the books.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 247. Patrick Ness – The rest of us just live here.My Profile

  5. Bekka says:

    My main takeaway from this is that you’ve read The Selection TWICE and I can’t stop laughing.

    I’ve been rereading series books a lot less since I started blogging. It used to be that, with every new book, I’d be rereading. For the most part anyway. But obviously blog-reading is a timesuck, so it’s not as easy to do this anymore. But I don’t have the memory problem you do, so it’s easier for me to skip the rereading.

    However, in 2016, I had a long list of rereads I want to get through in order to prep for the upcoming installment. This is mostly for the Series a Month challenge but also because I just really miss the ritual of binge-reading a series.
    Bekka recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #26My Profile

  6. OMG! I am so glad I’m not the only one with this issue. I was getting seriously worried about my memory (and perhaps I still should be) when I had consistent inability to remember names of characters in books I had _just_ read – among other things. And yet, I can remember specific details of the most normal of days. Memory is weird.

    When I first started blogging, I kept a notebook with me while reading so I could make notes of particular emotions or feelings, quotes, or other things that stood out. Perhaps I should revive this practice, because “university brain” is still alive and well 😉

    I also try to stay away from series, but find it’s very difficult to do, especially when they’re so hyped.

    Great post 🙂 I can relate!
    Katie @ ShelfishlyAddicted recently posted…Review: The Book of Speculation by Erika SwylerMy Profile

  7. Lyn Kaye says:


    Anyways, I agree. I am the WORST with character names. I even do this with movies. And I did not nominate anyone for the Shippy awards because, hell, I was coming up blank. When I was reading over the list, I was like, “OH YES THAT ONE!”

    As I told someone at work, my memory is that of a goldfish, upsidedown in the bowl.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: The Golden CompassMy Profile

  8. I used to have a great memory with books, but them GR and blogging happened and I think my brain can’t handle so much new stories everyday because I’m like you right now, give me a few months and the book is completely erased from my memory. I re-read The Falconer in preparation to the The Vanishing Throne (wish is awesome btw) and it was like diving into a new book, I only recalled some major moments and general feelings.
    Deyse @ Bound with Words recently posted…#CRAMATHONMy Profile

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