How good is your book memory?

March 8, 2016 Discussion 60

How good is your book memory? Mine sucks. Even (especially) my co-blogger has told me so, after the numerous bookish discussions we have had when she mentions a quote or a character I have no recollection of. And it’s true; I can finish a book and the day after struggle to remember any of the names of the characters.

memory..
I’ve always been a very visual learner, and I think that is why I like reading and watching TV/movies so much. But, I also read fast. My memory isn’t all that great to begin with, and adding in hundreds of articles, books, shows, movies, songs, etc. a year doesn’t help much.

When I went to see Mockingjay Part Two with my friend I could not, for the life of me, remember Gale’s (Liam Hemsworth) name. I had actually convinced myself his name in the movie was Liam and thought, “Wow, what a coincidence he got to play a character who has his same real name.” Even the minor characters in my favorite series are totally forgotten. I’ve actually made it halfway through two books before I realized I had read them before.

facepalm.
Anyways. I’ve also noticed that I used to be able to listen to music, have the TV on, and have loud conversations going on around me and still be able to completely focus. Now, I have to either have complete silence or low music to be able to focus and read or I can’t take anything in, leading to me not remembering what I just read.

If I go to the trouble of either rereading the information, or making a specific effort to picture a scene in depth, I tend to have better luck being able to recall something later. I can remember, maybe even draw you a picture of, the setting in a book but won’t be able to tell you the character’s names, which definitely backs up my visual learning theory.

I really do wish I could remember the smaller details though-hell, even some main plot points escape me-because it’s kind of sad that these books I’ve enjoyed are forgotten so easily by me.

Could my poor book memory be due to the sheer amount of media we are taking in, age, attention span, or a crap memory in general?

never know.

How good is your book memory?
Do you have any of these problems?

Do you have any tips to remember what you’ve read?
Why do you think books are sometimes so easy to forget?

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60 Responses to “How good is your book memory?”

  1. czai

    my book memory is decent at best. I’m quite a slow reader so I get to absorb the characters’ names. When I find them difficult to remember, I write them on my book journal. Keeping a journal generally helps me remember certain details and maybe my feelings on certain parts. But sometimes when I read a book a year or so ago, I tend to forget names unless I’m sooo inlove with the book.

    Unlike you though, I’m not that good at picturing scenes perfectly. Sometimes I just read on even though I haven’t completely picture the place in my mind which is why I used to dislike fantasy novels (but I’m getting into them lately).
    czai recently posted…[WEEKLY MUSING] Victoria Aveyard in PH!!

    • Alise

      Keeping a journal like that is definitely a good idea! I should probably start keeping one but I already don’t write in any of the other journals I have, ha. It takes a lot of repetition for things like names to stay in my mind. Interesting! That could actually be why fantasy is my favorite genre!

  2. Davida Chazan

    You know, people ask me how I can be a book reviewer because of my mild dyslexia. THIS is exactly why – I read slowly (due to the dyslexia), so I tend to remember TONS of details from books. By the way, they say that you retain more from print books than you do with eBooks – but I’m not totally sold on that just yet. I haven’t noticed much of a difference myself.

    • Alise

      Interesting! I’ve never heard that but that is something to definitely keep in mind. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Cynthia

    Haha! My book memory (and media memory) are pretty crap–especially when it comes to names or noticing details like the color of the coat a character was wearing in a scene where a crime was committed. I learned, though, that I am a haptic learner, which means several of my senses need to be activated while I’m learning or trying to remember something. So, even holding a pen and jotting down a word, or eating a carrot–those things help trigger my memory when I need to recall. It might explain why I’m so good at remembering the names of people I meet in person — even if it was many years ago. A lot of my senses kick in.

    • Alise

      Ditto! I almost never take in the little details like that. Unless it is mentioned a few times, I don’t even take in hair color. I’m a terrible person, haha. That’s really interesting! :) Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Alexandria

    The amount of media we consume, leading to a) short attention spans and b) getting confused between different texts must be it, or else I am the exact same as you when it comes to book memory. I used to be able to read, eat, and listen to music at the same time – now I definitely can’t. My memory is bad anyway, but having a bad book memory in addition to that isn’t much fun.
    Alexandria recently posted…Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes

    • Alise

      Getting confused between texts actually hasn’t happened to me (yet). It’s more I can’t bring up or recall information. Same here! I used to be able to do all that too. It is a sad day, haha.

  5. Sara

    Oh my gosh, my book memory is awful! I literally can read a book (which I enjoy), and an hour after I finish it I cannot remember the main character names. It’s ridiculous! I’m also horrible with remembering what authors go with what books! I blame it on old age, I’m getting close to 40 and I hear it all goes down hill from this point on, lol!
    Sara recently posted…Censoring Your Kid’s Books

    • Alise

      Exactly! Oh, I forgot about author names, I’m actually pretty good at remembering those for some reason. I’m only 21 so I can’t blame it on age, haha!

  6. Omobola

    I find that my general media memory is very good but once I have too many books in there, I sometimes find it hard to pull information quickly. When it’s been long since I read a book, I find it even harder too pull the information but other than that, I still remember events and quotes from books sometimes years after I have read them.
    Omobola recently posted…Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles

    • Alise

      That’s pretty good! I think my memory when it comes to recalling information in general is pretty bad. I wonder if it’s because everything is so easy to look up on the Internet I don’t store it anymore.

  7. Tasya

    i’m also a fast reader, and even though when i read slowly, my memory is still terrible XD as soon as i finish the book, the chances are i won’t remember the minor characters’ names and the places. i even get it mixed up with other books. but that doesn’t apply for books i absolutely love. i’d remember everything to the smallest details about them. one of my friend has a really amazing memory, she memorize most of the lines from Pride and Prejudice and The Infernal Devices! i don’t know how she did it though, she should shares her secret with us XD
    Tasya recently posted…Book Review: Fairest of All and The Beast Within by Serena Valentino

    • Alise

      Yep, that’s pretty much my struggle as well xD Dang, that’s awesome, I wish I had that kind of memory haha. Right? She should share :P

  8. Annika

    My (book) memory is like a sieve! But I like to think it’s more of a good thing because it means I can reread things I loved quite soon after a first read.
    I do the same thing where I binge and read in a few sittings. Then I go to write a review and completely draw a blank on a main character’s name. It’s kind of embarrassing! .
    Annika recently posted…The Syndicate by Sophie Davis

  9. Lauren @ Bookmark Lit

    Omg I totally relate to this. I’m also a very fast reader and wonder if that contributes to my memory issues. I try to take notes when I read so I have something relevant to put in my review, but I hate it lol. I wish I could just REMEMBER things. Someone could ask me a couple weeks after I finish a book if it had a love triangle and I won’t even remember that. It’s baffling and annoying. This is a major reason I review books ASAP when I finish so I have a good solid memory of what happened haha.
    Lauren @ Bookmark Lit recently posted…Top Ten Tuesdays #80: Characters

    • Alise

      Exactly! I think I tried taking notes once but I also hated it, it felt so disruptive to the reading experience haha. It really is annoying, I hope my memory doesn’t get any worse!

  10. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Well I read nowhere as fast as you do but compared to my other real life friends and family, I read fast LOL! My memory though is fantastic and it has been since I was a kid. I can hear a song a few times and know it (mostly) by heart. I remember details from books I’ve read years ago and the same applies to movies, tv shows…etc. My friends all joke that I almost have an eidetic memory though I’m far from that, I just have a GREAT memory. And when I reread or rewatch? Then I get annoying, quoting as I go, ruining punchlines and all that other geek stuff. LOL! That doesn’t mean I don’t forget SOME things, but if it,s important or touching to me? It’s there for life XD
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Fandom Mashup #43

    • Alise

      That’s why I’m so confused. Like when a song comes on I can repeat every word if I have heard it a few times as well. And I remember authors super easily but I can’t recall the story or character inside of the book. DUDE, that’s awesome. Tell me your secret.

    • Alise

      The struggle is real! I used to have a huge problem continuing series for that exact reason. Thank heavens for Recaptains!

  11. Danielle

    Oh man my book memory sucks! Literally today I sat down to write reviews for books I read back in autumn and boy were they vague lol. I used to have a fantastic memory for details in books, hello Harry potter but in recent years books I’ve devoured because I couldn’t put them down are some of the hardest for me to recall. If I read VA for example, I’d probably have plenty of “oh I forgot all about that ” moments!
    Danielle recently posted…Eleanor by Jason Gurley – Review and Guest Post by Author

    • Alise

      I definitely wouldn’t be able to do that! I write my reviews same day or next day and they are already really vague, haha! I’ve reread VA so many times and still can’t remember a lot of the story xD

  12. Jessica @ a GREAT read

    Hello buddy!! We are in the same boat!! Did you know?! LOL! Yes, I have this exact same problem!!! Mostly with books though! So recently, like maybe 5 books ago, I decided I would take more detailed notes for myself. Usually I just write few to help with my reviews, because yeah, that’s how short term my memory gets, but now I am writing more notes for myself that include all the spoilers and basically gives me a mini recap to read over before I go into the next book, should they be a series and it usually is! Though right now, I’ve mostly been reading to get caught up and haven’t gone into “the next book yet”!
    Jessica @ a GREAT read recently posted…Teaser & Top Ten Tuesdays

    • Alise

      *waves* Hello! Glad I am not alone, haha. Yeah, that’s a good idea! I really should start a journal or something by I’m pretty lazy. Ah, yes, the endless “next book” :P

  13. Cait @ Paper Fury

    DUUUUDE ME TOOOOO. And I don’t really think I blame it on consuming too much (although I’ve been told that’s the cause XD) because I’ve always had a horrible memory. I used to name my toys after book characters/movie character so I would REMEMBER them. And that was when I was a tiny little thing so it’s only getting worse, tbh. XD Ahem. But names = the death of me. I literally can finish a book, open goodreads, go to write the review — AND HAVE FORGOTTEN ALL THE NAMES. (Although in our defence: first-person is hard because they rarely get CALLED their name. So we can use that as excuse? :P)

    Anyway, I am with you. xD I read fast and remember nothing….at least it makes rereading exciting?
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Wherein I Am Fabulously Cantankerous And Have Opposite (Unpopular?) Opinions on Fictional Characters

    • Alise

      BAHA. I mean, that’s awful but xD Names are the worst for me as well. I can’t use that excuse because I used to have a good memory and then these past couple of years it went so far downhill. True true ;)

  14. Wendy

    Hmm, I’m somewhat in between. I have a good memory for books I really loved and have read more than once — and in other aspects of life I have a pretty good memory when I put concentrated effort into remembering something (e.g. academically). But I do also go through books fairly quickly, so I don’t remember less impressive/significant books very well at all if they didn’t have an emotional impact/I didn’t put a concentrated effort into remembering something.
    Darnit, as a psych student you’ve now got me interested in investigating this topic further… xD

    • Alise

      I wish I could at least do that! I’ve read the Vampire Academy series so many times and could probably tell you like three names from it. xD That’s true too! Right? If you find out something, let me know! xD

  15. Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA

    Uhmmm that is one of my issues… most especially gor books that I rate 3 stars or less. Clearly this books do not interest me as much as the others . I also have issues with weird/uncommon names in books… because, why not? The minor characters, too are just details that I tend to forget!

    I do check goodreads to see if I read the book or not before reading it… because, yes I have read books that I forgot I had read before!
    Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA recently posted…Bordeline by Mishell Baker | Book Review + Giveaway

    • Alise

      Yeah I know what you mean! Although I do tend to remember unique names because they usually make me stop and go “Wait, WHAT?” Ha! Sadly, I’ve had to do that as well :’)

  16. Lonna

    I think it’s so cute how you and Bec have such a good rapport. <3 My book memory is tied to my emotions. As the wise Maya Angelou said, "“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So, if I feel a strong emotional connection to a book, I'll remember it. But, it's rare that this connection is made.
    Lonna recently posted…Unleash the Storm (Steel and Stone 5) Blog Tour and Kindle Paperwhite Giveaway

    • Alise

      Thank you :) I don’t know what I would do without her sometimes. That’s a good point, and it’s very true.

  17. ShootingStarsMag

    I’ve read that some book bloggers like re-reading their reviews to help them remember things before the next book in a series. I like this idea. I have a pretty bad memory when it comes to certain things. I do tend to remember really random stuff though. haha I’m not a really fast reader, but I do read a lot in general so yeah, I tend to forget details about a book pretty quick (especially character names). Some books stick with me better, but they tend to be books I’ve read a long time ago. I definitely more now than I used too!
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Author Guest Post: The Genre Tightrope by Danika Stone

    • Alise

      I’ve tried that. For me, the problem is that my reviews are pretty vague in general and I don’t include specific plotpoints and especially no spoilers, so they don’t help me much. Yeah!

  18. Ella A.

    I think that this is all SO true!
    For me, school plays a big role in not having a good bookish memory.
    It’s hard to remember comma splices and complex sentences while also having to store piles of bookish information into the same brain space (Okay, that was not scientifically correct…)
    But through it all, reading is such a special hobby, bumps in the road like bad bookish memory could never take it away!:)

    • Alise

      I feel like that could be the reason for me as well! Because my memory and focus used to be so good before I started college.

  19. Pippa

    I’m in a club at school called Battle of the Books, and basically you read a bunch of pre-chosen books and then get together with the teams from other local schools and compete at answering questions about the books. In other words, it totally depends on having a good memory. One book that I’m currently reading for that club is Dead End in Norvelt, and even though I’m 120 pages in, a co-reader was talking with me about it, and I honestly couldn’t even remember the MC’s name. (It was Jack.) On the other hand, I could tell you that his neighbor has arthritis as dips her hands in hot wax to make them ache less.

    Which is more important? Dunno. But I think I’m closer to you reading-wise than Bec. Especially considering I began and finished Scarlet today after school…oops. =]

    • Alise

      I remember that, we had something similar at my school too! Back then I used to have a much better memory though. But yeah, I can definitely see how that would be a struggle! In your defense, Jack is a really easy name to forget xD Thanks for stopping by! :D

  20. JennRenee

    In the last 3 or 4 years my book memory has been slipping. I think its the amount of books I read and also how memorable the book is. Sometimes its a good book but nothing about it screams remember everything about. I really do think it has to do with all we cram into our brains though. I find audio helps me remember more. I don’t skim or get in a hurry to finish the book. I am at someone else’s pace. Also I can just picture it a lot easier with someone reading to me. It sucks to forget major details in books.
    JennRenee recently posted…Delightful Discoveries: Historical Fiction

    • Alise

      That’s what has been happening to me as well, just in these past few years. Interesting! I’m the opposite, I can’t really take in much when I’m just listening.

  21. Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic

    I think because I take my time reading books, I remember more because I read slower and in the process really drink everything in? I won’t remember much of what happened a couple of years after reading a book but about a year or so after reading a novel, I can still remember quite a bit of what happened. I think it also depends on the book though?? Like if it’s a book you really, really love you might remember more? Great post!
    Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic recently posted…On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis is a realistic (and unsettling) apocalyptic novel

    • Alise

      Yeah, I’m wondering if I paced myself I would remember more. It’s definitely true time plays a factor as well. Good point, I like that’s true for books I really hate too xD

  22. Wattle

    My book memory is okay if I have notes to refer to, or if something triggers it. Otherwise I can struggle to remember things after a while. It’s not so bad if I read something recently, but books I read a couple of years ago? Unless they were super memorable I will recall the main plot points and nothing else.

    I’m re-reading a book at the moment, and I am amazed at how much I had forgotten, although I tend to remember what’s coming just before it happens lol but I know with each re-read I’ll retain more. I won’t be able to quote things though (I have NEVER been able to quote books!) but it’s enough for me!
    Wattle recently posted…The Sunday Post #3

    • Alise

      I know what you mean, I feel like I have better luck remembering something if it just comes to me as opposed to me trying to recall it. Yeah, I get it! No matter how many rereads of a book I always find stuff I forgot about!

  23. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    I feel like this post was written for me! I do think that we’re cramming our brains with so much information, books, speed reading them, reviews, social media and everything else that’s going on it’s easy to forget things that happen. I’m not surprised that you forget character names and finer details quickly! The thing that helps me is writing a review straight after reading a book, or checking out recaptains for some of the details lol. Good luck Alise!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Wrapping up February, OzYay Radio Segment & Booktube Video

    • Alise

      Right? Blogging and everything that comes with it plays a huge role too, I’m sure. I usually review a book right after reading it as well, and I definitely can’t start another until I finish reviewing the previous one. Haha, thanks!

  24. molly @ molly's book nook

    My book memory is terrible and I’m so happy to learn that I’m not alone in this! I seriously forget characters’ names right after I finish the book. While writing reviews, I sometimes have to go back and figure it out lol Or, when someone tries to talk to me about a book I read, I have to go refresh my memory. I seriously don’t remember some of the plot points in books I read LAST YEAR or LAST MONTH. I remember how the book made me FEEL. But sometimes I have a hard time remembering other things. That’s actually why I have a notebook to write thoughts down while reading, I also use the note app in my phone. I even just started adding comments to my reading progress updates on Goodreads in hopes that will help me remember better xD Oh boy… I’m a lost cause.
    molly @ molly’s book nook recently posted…Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

    • Alise

      Definitely not alone! It’s hard to retain things like names for me as well, I almost always have to look at the synopsis again. Yeah, I think I’m the same way. I can basically remember if I liked it or not and why, but not much else xD That’s a good idea!

  25. peach @ rebelle reads

    It is HORRIBLE. Sometimes, I have to reopen the ARC and just skim it to re-remember the little things. I think I spelt the MC’s name wrong & I had to hurry and correct my review. One time, a troll hopped on one of my reviews – a different one – and was like: “you know what? it sounds like you didn’t even read this.” and it seriously offended me. I was like: “YES I DID. LEAVE ME ALONE.” but yeah. hah. Awesome post!
    peach @ rebelle reads recently posted…Once Upon A Rebel Belle & A Giveaway!

    • Alise

      BAHA, no way! I’ve only had one troll and they argued with me about how my opinion was wrong but that’s crazy. Reviews have to be kind of vague anyway, add in our bad memories and these people shouldn’t judge us xD Thanks!

  26. Harvey Richards

    Ha! I’m TERRIBLE at remembering character names! I mean, I can have JUST finished a book and be writing my review and STILL have to go back and check I’m getting a name right. If I have to wait a year or so for a sequel to come out I ALWAYS end up having to refresh my memory before I pick it up!

  27. Alise

    I feel that! Unless character names come up in the book a lot, chances are they won’t stick with me. The wait between books is the worst for my memory.

  28. Leanne

    I’m so glad to see this talked about somewhere – and that I’m not the only one! My memory is so bad, but I think it’s because details don’t matter that much to me. Does hair colour or name really add anything? Admittedly it’s a bit embarrassing when I talk about the book with someone and don’t know the main characters name.. you feel like such a fraud! But I like to focus on how a book makes you feel, to get swept along and watch it play out in my head rather than focus on trying to memorise what’s happening. When I review I like to focus on what sort of mood it puts me in, what sort of twists and turns stand out, or even what sort of weather would the book be? That way I can still review books but in a way that’s unique to me, and might help someone looking for a specific type of book to read :)

    • Alise

      I think that’s what I tend to do as well! If hair and eye colors are only mentioned once or twice, they totally just go over my head. Interesting! :) I think that’s a unique way to read and review~!

  29. Libbie

    My book memory is incredible, I can put down a book – lets say for about three months since I’ve done that before – then when I pick it up again as soon as I read the first page I remember all the characters and plot. I’m putting it down to the fact that when I was a kid and I would do things like reading a chapter word for word out loud with the book closed or even just telling my mum everything about the book once I’d finished.

    • Alise

      Telling someone what the book was about afterwards really helps! That’s actually I get a lot of my work memorized for university, I just explain the topic to someone else. That’s great though, I wish my memory was better!

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