I used to have a photographic memory for books.
When I was a teenager, a glance at the cover of a paperback would recall the entire plot, the characters, the good and bad and ugly of any book I’d laid my hands on. (This was approximately ½ the local library. I didn’t read westerns, non-fiction or Literature at this point) Half the time I’d only read the back of the book, but even then I could remember what the book was about and whether or not I wanted to read it.
Today I was browsing my Goodreads list and stopped at The Summer of You by Kate Noble. I did not remember this book. And yet I’d rated it. And apparently liked it. So I clicked the link.
Reading the back copy helped me remember the book. Goodreads told me I’d read it in July.
But what makes me pause is that I used to make fun of my parents for this very thing. I couldn’t comprehend how they were unable to recall the books they’d read. Reading creates a very intense, very personal relationship between yourself and the book, and it mystified me when they passed a book from one to the other and asked, “Have we read this? I can’t remember if we read this.” (They shared – and still share – many of the book they read. But not all. My Mum loves mysteries, and my Dad goes gaga over biographies and histories)
And now here I am, looking at my Goodreads page and wondering, “Did I read this? I don’t remember reading this.” I’m getting old.
However, all is not lost. My whipsharp teenage memory meant that I couldn’t reread my favourite books and experience them the way I had the first time I’d read them. I do look forward to when I’m 99 and senile, and can reread the same 3 books over and over again with the same sense of wonder I’d experienced the first time I flipped through their pages. It’ll be like meeting an amazing friend over, and over, and over.