Is it just me, or are some books really difficult to remember?
When writing up my thoughts on the first part of Sabriel last week, I realised that despite the book being part of one of my favourite series, all I really remembered was the first half. Past that, I can’t for the life of me remember what happens next. I have the same problem with the next two books: all I remember about Lirael is that it follows either the daughter or granddaughter of Sabriel (see, I don’t even remember that much!), and Abhorsen, err well… I know I enjoyed it. For reasons. That I have forgotten.
This doesn’t normally happen with favourites. Normally it’s books that I have no strong opinion about.
For example, these two – Matched by Ally Condie and Delirium by Lauren Oliver:
Here’s what I remember about both books:
- White female teenage protagonist, probably a plain Jane type with ‘mousey’ hair or something
- LOVE IS BAD! NO FREEDOM! You have to be paired with someone that the government chooses for you in order to *procreate to maximum effect* and produce all the genetically superior babies (gross, and I’m sure this happens in both books??)
- Protagonist meets HANDSOME BUT MYSTERIOUS YOUNG MAN. Even though she’s only known him for about two days, she realises everything the government has ever told her is a lie and she must REBEL!
- Love interest is predictable and oh-so-enchanting to our protagonist, but really boring to me
- The love interest is probably already aware of how rubbish the government is, so he can recruit the protagonist into his ~super secret mission~ or revolutionary group
- They rebel, or break out, or leave their homes and of course something has to go horribly wrong somewhere down the line
And that’s about it. I’m not sure if these things happen in both (or maybe either…) books, but when I try to remember the plots of either of these, this is what I get. I rated both of these books three stars so I must have enjoyed them at least a little bit. But can I actually remember any fine plot points? Nope.
I think part of the reason is the crazy amount of YA dystopia that has been published over the past few years – many of them are starting to merge into one. However, I can think of another YA dystopia with a similar plot that I also rated three stars – Article 5 by Kristen Simmons – that I remember the story of quite well. Plus it’s obviously not just YA dystopia that gives me book amnesia. Perhaps it depends on what else I’ve recently read? My mood at the time? I really don’t know!
47 thoughts on “Thoughts #18: Book Amnesia”
Man this is so true… some books just aren’t memorable. I REALLY can’t remember Matched tho.
I’m not even sure if I do, or those events were a figment of my imagination/mix of other books. Which makes me question whether it deserved the three stars??
I tend to have some kind of general novel amnesia. Just hours after finishing a book I forget the protagonist’s name! Though it seems to be worst with YA books, probably because they are all pretty much alike. But forgetting the plot of a book is really nice sometimes, it makes rereading it much more exciting
Haha, oh dear! I’m normally quite good with names, but if there are similar ones I can get confused. Although I don’t remember the names of many extra characters in Divergent, only the main characters.
That’s a good point! Sometimes with my favourite books I wish I could forget them completely and have that first read through again. That would be amazing 🙂
Like the poster above I don’t really get amnesia per say, I remember plot points and ideas no problem. But I have to have the book near by anyway because I suck at names. I don’t bother remembering them, the way I read I just recognize them as they come up. So I am always digging for character names through my books.
Haha, doesn’t that get confusing? Do you ever end up assigning characters different names or nicknames based on personality/appearance? 😀
All I remember from Matched is the two characters (can’t even remember their names…) hiking up the mountain every day to snuggle each other. That’s pretty much it. But I find that I generally forget most of the details about books. I think it’s a real phenomenon that people feel like they remember a book, but after they read a few more books, tests of that knowledge reveal that they remember a few details and that’s it.
Oh that… erghhhhh. I also remember some sort of ceremony where they got matched and she ended up with some nerdy dull guy. At least I know that’s from Matched!
Some books I could probably recap quite well. Others I could, but the books have sort of merged into one e.g. A Song of Ice and Fire. Although part of my recollection of that series might have more to do with watching the TV show 😉
I have this problem more with books I felt very indifferent towards – but I think with books that I loved and then have trouble remembering, I do start to remember as I re-read – I don’t know if that is happening to you with Sabriel? So it must be locked away somewhere in my brain but I don’t access it unless other things open it up. I think Tara’s comment is really interesting too – there are times when I’ve mixed scenes or details between two books as well! All of this is part of the reason I started blogging – so I can remember something of each book! 🙂
Yes, it is! As I’m going through the book (I’m generally reading it in ‘thirds’ for the read along, so I’ve got the last third to read now) things are becoming more and more familiar!
I guess that’s what our reviews are good for 😉
I have a big problem remember the details of so many books and so many series. I got into Delirium and Divergent roughly around the same time, so I am always getting them mixed up. Now I’ve been thinking of holding off on some series and waiting until all of the books are published, but who am I kidding? I’m not going to do that.
Hehe, I couldn’t wait that long! If I did that, I’d probably get the books within a series muddled – as I said to Tara above, A Song of Ice and Fire is pretty merged together in my mind because I read the whole series one after the other. That was intense…
I generally have this problem with books that I didn’t really care for, and sometimes it makes writing a review on it pretty hard because I just end up rambling on about how much I didn’t care for it. And this happened to me with Matched too! I tried to read the second book in the series, but had forgotten so much of the first that I just had to put it down.
Haha, looks like Matched hasn’t been all too memorable! 😮
I find the same problem with books I didn’t care for either. If I hated or loved a book it’s much easier to write my review.
Haha, Matched! That book series gave me book amnesia too, when I was in THE MIDDLE of reading it. For all the points you mentioned about Matched, which make the book seem so generic that I could put it on white bread with some mayo and it would taste like wheat cereal.
It might be because of similar plots that don’t leave much of an impact. Like you said, so much YA dystopia is coming lately thanks to the popularity of The Hunger Games, and some books can seem… Well, formulaic. If it doesn’t have something spectacular to separate itself from the pack, I get total book amnesia. It works for other titles too, I guess. Even me with my love of mysteries, I sometimes get book amnesia with mystery books because they do follow a certain formula. 🙂
Great topic, Rinn!
Bahaha, oh dear! Poor book… ahh that’s a good way to describe it! 😀
This is true. The Maze Runner is one YA dystopia I REALLY remember, but its prequel, The Kill Order, was so… meh. Just a post-apocalyptic running around book that wasn’t particularly notable.
I have HORRIBLE book amnesia – for any book I rate higher than 2 stars. I remember the awful books, because they either made me sob or extraordinarily pissed me off. But even some of my favorite series, like the Grisha trilogy, I need to reread to remember things. I know I’ll need to read both of those books before I start Ruin and Rising next month. I just have a poor memory for books, no matter what. Although I have a horrible memory in my day-to-day life, so I guess it’s really no surprise there 😛
Ugh, it’s frustrating to remember the rubbish ones! But at least you have an excuse to re-read the great ones, right? 😉
I am the WORST when it comes to remembering books. The WORST. I just started Dreams of Gods and Monsters today and was like.. who are these people??? I found this blog called the recaptains which has been a big help with some series. You should check it out.
Haha! Oh yes, I know the Recaptains, it’s a great idea 😀 It’s only for YA though I think? I had to read synopses of A Song of Ice and Fire the other day, to try and remember exactly what happened in which book – and the synopses alone are SO long! 😮
Sadly, for me it’s pretty much with every book like this. The only books whose plot I remember in detail are the ones I think about a lot long after I finished them.
That’s why I started to take notes when reading books in a series or else I would have to reread the previous ones every time the next one is out. I hate that I have to do it because I’m usually way too lazy for that but have to with my bad memory 😀
On the other hand it’s always fun to reread books and be surprised by things I forgot 😀
And it definitely gets worse when reading several books in a row from the same genre! I used to read a lot of thrillers and mysteries when I was younger and always mixed up facts from different books. Nowadays I try to have a more varied monthly TBR.
Is it not distracting to have to take notes for every book? I know I find it distracting when making notes for reviews, although it has to be done…
Yes! I go through phases just reading one genre for a bit, I should definitely mix it up.
It’s only when I read something like epic fantasy = books with lots of things I need to remember, that I take notes while reading. For all the other books I do it after I finished the book. Or I do it when I stop to write notes for a review anyway 😀
Oh good! 😀 But yeah, that’s definitely the type of book to make notes for when reviewing! So much to remember…
I too find it hard to remember the details about a lot of books long after I’ve read them. My brain only holds so much. And so many books are so similar in their plots that I get them confused. Especially if I’m reading two books and both of my characters have an injured leg. Well now I’m getting details confused between the books. Might be attention span issues. Might just be that the more I read, the less books blow me away and stick with me.
Haha, we read far too much to remember all the little details, right? 😀 I bet smaller details like that would make it even more confusing than a general plot line, since something like a broken leg seems way more specific.
I tend to have a bit of book amnesia with everything I read. Some more profound than others. Which makes re-reading a particularly pleasurable experience, because there are always those “ohhhhhh…yes…NOW I remember” moments. My wife will bring up specific plot points from mutual books we’ve read long ago and it always amazes me, because even though I have a good memory, story details seem to fade quickly while the way a story made me “feel” lingers on and on.
That is true, it’s really nice re-reading Sabriel and not remembering much, for that very reason.
At least you have your wife to rely on if you need to remember something from a book 😛
I usually forget all the books I’ve read within the span of maybe two weeks to a month. Which (I think) is pretty short. I tend to remember my feelings after reading a book more so than what it’s really about. I mean, I might remember generally what it was about but that’s usually it. And it’s not even that I read a TON of books. In my mind, all books just get muddled together after I read them.
Yes! I’ll often remember how I felt about a book too – whether it didn’t amuse me that much, it made me cry my heart out or laugh until I cried.
One of the problems for quite a few of us does seem to be the sheer volume of books we read. Just too many 😉
The more I read, the harder I find it to remember specific things that happened in a book. Just last night I wrote a review for The Art of Lainey (on the blog where I co-blog) and I found that I could only remember my general thoughts and none of the scenes that happened in the book. I find this really sad, and sometimes I feel the tendency to re-read some books just to remember, but of course I don’t have enough time to re-read everything. It’s especially horrible when you’re reading a sequel and you can’t remember ANYTHING from the predecessor.
I know that if I leave it too long between finishing a book and reviewing it, unless I’ve got REALLY detailed notes it’s hard to write a review. I don’t know how people review without making notes!
Gah, that is annoying! I tend to find a detailed synopsis of the previous book somewhere – I don’t know if that would help you?
Sometimes I remember I really liked a book and certain aspects, but then I really can’t come up with the names of characters! Like, I know what she looked like, how old she was, her hobbies etc and I seriously can’t think of her name, haha. So annoying. But that often happen with books I felt indifferent about. Those ‘mweh, not bad, not good’ books.
Do you find this happens with characters who have quite odd names, that you normally think would be memorable? Or if there are a few characters with similar names…
I can’t even remember the names of ANY of the characters in either Matched or Delirium o.o
I get book amnesia too! I don’t think I usually mix up similar books, but I’m likely to forget the plot of a book even if I remember that I didn’t like it or I liked it a lot. 😛 For me, this happens a lot with chick lit or romance, since the basic premise is always the same lol.
Yes, those two are not very memorable for sure! The only chick lit I remember the plot of is Bridget Jones’ Diary, and I’ve read that so many times. Neither of those are genres I tend to read, but I have read some books from them and pretty much forgotten EVERYTHING 😉
I have the problem quite frequently, so I reread a lot. I have even started reading a book synopsis and been like, Oh that sounds good, and click to add it to by TBR shelf on good reads only to find that I have already read it and rated it. Hmmmm…. the genre I have the most problem with this is YA Contemporary Romance.
Oh gosh, I’m not that bad, haha! 😉 At least that means one more book you can knock off your TBR list, right? 😛
Seems like that’s a common easily forgotten genre for all of us…
Yeh – I was starting a book review and realized I had read two other books by the same author. And I couldn’t for the life of me remember what they were about. Forgettable. Or maybe just bad timing.
Oh no! Did you have to read a synopsis or something to write the review? How long after reading the book did you write the review?
This is my least favorite thing about books! Well I guess it’s more of a problem with myself haha, but it’s a big downside when it comes to reading. It’s why I refuse to read current series. I have to just wait until all the books are published and read them all at once, so that I don’t forget. It’s just not the same experience unless you really remember the previous books!
I don’t think that I have trouble remembering different genres more than others, though. It’s just all books for me in general. Like, seriously, it’s so bad that sometimes I’ll forget almost everything about a book only weeks after reading it. Sometimes when I’m writing a book review directly after I finish a book, I’ll have to flip it back open to remember the main character’s name! It’s BAD. I’m starting to think I might have a serious problem 😛
But I think the biggest contributor is just because I read so many books. My brain just doesn’t have enough room to house that much information all at once!
That’s a good idea, although personally I don’t tend to marathon book series. I’ve only done that with A Song of Ice and Fire I think – I would definitely forget what had happened in each book if there was a big gap in between! Only problem is, the whole series has merged into one because of that, and I can’t remember which book specifically things happened in 😛
Haha, the name! Oh dear 😛 I think it is the amount of books though. Obviously us bloggers read a lot, and we think a lot about those books, and more than likely we’re reading more than one book at once, so it can get confusing!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, so I’m not alone! I thought there was something really wrong with me when I realized I couldn’t remember the sentence before the last one while reading The Raven Boys. One thing that I’m not a big fan of it, but it was so weird. (I keep changing tenses because I’m still reading it though I haven’t really proceeded at all for a few weeks, nonetheless I haven’t given it up yet, either.) I don’t know if it had ever happened to me before the above mentioned and I was afraid I lost my curiosity in reading. That’s something that has happened to me once even though when I got back to reading I read more than I’d ever done so. However, Delirium wasn’t like this for me.
Haha, judging by the comments on here you are very much not alone 😀
You know, that’s one book I can remember quite well. Weird!
And as for losing curiosity in reading, sometimes you just sort of burn out. I know I had a bit of a weird phase at the end of last year where I just couldn’t read anything, so I switched up my usual fantasy and sci-fi with some contemporary YA (John Green), and that ‘fixed’ it 😉