Sunday, September 19, 2010
DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT YOU READ?
In an interesting article on the back page of the NYT Book Review, James Collins explores the idea that most of us do not remember what we read even mere weeks after. "Anecdotal evidence suggests that most people cannot recall the title, author, or even existence of a book they read a month ago much less its contents." He suffers from this deficit and so do I. I could not tell you the plot of a book I read six months ago in all likelihood.
My husband does not forget. He can recall the plot of a book read years ago. Good thing he's the professor.
Maryanne Wolfe, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, assures Collins that reading is useful for the basic reason it creates pathways in the brain and because we are possessors of a broader knowledge for having read--even if we can't remember it. "You are the sum of it all."
I've found that the books I remember best are ones I have talked or written about. In other words by verbalizing it, I moved what was a passive experience on some level into a more active one. I have put words out into the world. Reviewing a book online, belonging to a book group, belonging to online discussion groups, talking with friends, all make the book stick. Maybe we remember books read in high school because our English teachers made us discuss them.
Do you remember what you read? Can you sum up the plot of a book you read a year ago? A month ago?