5 Ways to Avoid Book Amnesia
It happens to every avid reader eventually — you read a book, shelve it, and a few weeks or months later you have absolutely no recollection of its contents. It’s hard to think of a book as making such a weak impression. You might feel guilty for not remembering a book that you spent time and money on. After all, it’s somebody else’s literary baby. Maybe it’s even your best friend’s favourite book, one that she bugged you to read for months.
If Book Amnesia happens once, it’s usually a fluke. If it happens repeatedly, it’s good to take action before a pattern forms. My book amnesia usually precedes a reading slump. These are five of the strategies I use to improve my memory, engage with the books I read, and cement their stories in my mind.
- Light a candle near your reading spot. Scent is the strongest trigger for memory. If you read a book while consistently surrounded by the scent of, say, vanilla and pomegranate, you’ll be more likely to remember the details of that book when confronted with the same scent(s).
- Leave detailed Goodreads updates like breadcrumbs through your personal forest. For a long time I only used the reading progress tool on Goodreads to update my page count, and left the text box blank. Then I started forgetting the details of books more and more, so writing reviews became difficult. Leaving a little comment about your current impressions every time you update your page count will remind you of major points to include in your review.
- If you have an ereader, use the highlight and notation tools. Every device has some version of these tools. I like to highlight passages that I find meaningful, quote-worthy, or notable (both good and bad). If I have a question, spot a plot hole, or have a thought I’m likely to forget, I create a note within the ebook. It makes it so much easier to go back and look at the important parts of the book during the review process, especially when you can’t just flip pages like you would in print.
- Read in short bursts. If attention span is the problem and you find your mind wandering while you read, take a break. It’s better to read ten pages and remember them than to read a hundred and have no clue what just happened.
- Mix up your reading list. Every genre has its conventions, and if you read to many books of the same type in a row, they may start to run together in your mind. If your usual fare is urban fantasy, try breaking up your list with some science fiction or a paranormal. Sometimes trying something completely new helps us to notice and appreciate the nuances in things we see every day.