The Curse of Reading and Forgetting

05 Jun

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“Recently, a colleague mentioned that she had been rereading Richard Hughes’s “A High Wind in Jamaica,” which was first published in 1929 and is about a group of creepy little kids who become the unwanted wards of sad, listless pirates. She praised it, and her recommendation sent me to Amazon. The title was familiar, as was the vibrant cover of the New York Review Books reissue. One cent and $3.99 for shipping, and the book was on its way. A couple of weeks later, I opened to the first page and started reading. By the fifth page, I realized that I had read this novel before, and pretty recently, about three years ago, when another colleague had also praised it and lent me his copy.”


This is something that i’m experiencing currently with Kafka on the Shore. I first read it during my 2nd year at the university, 13-14 years ago. I am now re-reading it and although I’m on Chapter 4 , admittedly it has short chapters, i still can’t remember anything. There is no “oh yeah…” moment yet. The only proof that i have read this book before is the actual hardback i bought (and recently gave away) and the rating i gave it on Amazon at the time.

“This embarrassing situation raises practical questions that also become ones about identity: Do I really like reading? Perhaps it is a failure of attention—there are times when I notice my own distraction while reading, and can, in a way, feel myself forgetting. There is a scarier question, one that might seem like asking if one is good at breathing, or walking. Am I actually quite bad at reading after all?”


Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Books, Recommended articles


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6 responses to “The Curse of Reading and Forgetting

  1. A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff

    June 5, 2013 at 11:51

    13 years is a long time – I think you can be forgiven for not remembering more about it. Murakami’s books are pretty abstract and surreal. Even though he is one of my favourite authors, I certainly don’t feel like I have his books completely ingrained in my memory. With him, it’s more about the atmosphere of the story rather than the details. Enjoyment at the time of reading is more important than what you can recall years later (although admittedly, being able to remember it is usually the mark of a good book…).

    • Costas Taliadoros

      June 5, 2013 at 14:25

      It also applies with more recently read books. I remember enjoying Kafka on the Shore a lot at the time so i just wish it had stayed with me a bit. I completely agree that enjoyment at the time of reading is more important but i wish there was something more long term with each individual book. As much as possible of course.

      P.S Thank you for the comment!

  2. whatmeread

    June 5, 2013 at 18:13

    I do this all the time, too. How many books do you read a month? That might have something to do with it. As you get older, it’ll happen more often!

    • Costas Taliadoros

      June 5, 2013 at 21:01

      Hahaha, i imagine it will!!

      I read on average around 1 a month at the moment. Not really that many, right?

      • whatmeread

        June 5, 2013 at 21:32

        Well, but you read the book a long time ago.

  3. Costas Taliadoros

    June 11, 2013 at 17:06

    Yes, but still it feels like my time spent reading it was a waste if i don’t remember anything about it. I’m now almost 40% in and still everything reads so new. I’m enjoying a lot though.


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