Just finished reading “Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read” by Julie Beck, writing for The Atlantic; the article begins with a confession:
I almost always remember where I was and I remember the book itself. I remember the physical object. I remember the edition; I remember the cover; I usually remember where I bought it, or who gave it to me. What I don’t remember—and it’s terrible—is everything else.
The confession belongs to Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review (or at least she was when the article was written).
Now Paul is a consummate reader, or I assume so, given the job title.
Which makes this reader feel just a little less bad about all the books he has read and forgotten.
Funny, that I now feel better about a personal failing, knowing other people—people who do this for a living—fail to measure up to my own expectations in the same way.
Readers—we love to talk about books, mostly about the fact that we have read them, mostly to people who have not. Just don’t ask too much about what we have read. But then…
This is more and more unlikely to be a problem. Because most people are not readers. And most of the people who are have not just finished reading the same book. And in the increasingly unlikely event that one does encounter another reader, who just so happens to have read the same book, rest easy. Because this individual is unlikely to remember much of anything about that book either. One can then congratulate the other on the selfsame personal achievement and safely bullshit their way to the next topic of conversation without anyone being the wiser.