You know, now that I’m actually starting to read pretty regularly, I’m consistently surprised by how much of a book I can forget in a very short period of time. I mean, I remember the characters, the major plot points, setting and even tiny moments that for whatever reason stuck out to me, but beautiful details about the way a character’s hair looked in the sunlight? Or what a character said in a particular scene? Or how their legs or eyes or face changed when they were angry? These things are lost shortly after I put the book down. These tiny points that the author imagined and worked to perfect and wrote (i’m sure) over and over again… I forget all of that stuff.
On one hand I feel really sad about forgetting. I question whether I was paying enough attention as I read, whether I was distracted, or if I’d left the television on. I wonder, if my surroundings had been different when I read a sentence about how the sun glinted off broken glass in the street, if I would remember that detail. I wonder, if I hadn’t decided the moment after I read a paragraph to grab a sandwich, or if I had reached my stop on the train ten minutes later, would those forgotten moments have stayed?
On the other hand, forgetting some of the things you love most about a book provides a reason to read them again. Sometimes, if you’ve forgotten enough, reading a book again can be alot like reading it the first time. And often, re-reading a book you love always is.
So while I lament the loss of details in books I know I’ll never reread, or books I’ve, since reading them, completely forgotten, I revel in the forgotten moments of my favorite books. Maybe, if I re-read them enough, I won’t forget anything. But then again, if I don’t read them for a few years, I’m sure those tiny details will disappear again, and give me a reason to pick up right where I left off.