TTT: Ten Books I Really Liked But Can’t Remember Anything About

When I saw the subject for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) I had to chuckle, and then sigh in relief. Thank goodness I’m not the only voracious reader who struggles to remember books I read years ago and rated highly! Often I remember how a book made me feel and whether or not I liked it, but that’s it. I know I could fill multiple TTT’s with this category, so I’m just going to go through my Goodreads files and select a few:

Criminals by Margot Livesey. Read in 2007. Four Stars. Goodreads review only compares her to Ruth Rendell, a literary psychological thriller.

Something Rising by Haven Kimmel. Read in 2007. Five Stars. My review only mentions a “moving story and sympathetic lead character.”

Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler. Read in 2008. Four stars. I remember something weird happened, a historical fiction tale with a sci-fi angle.

John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead. Read in 2002, maybe? Pre-Goodreads. Four stars. I remember loving this. I know there’s a journalist covering a festival in honor of the mythic figure of John Henry. I know we get at least some narrative from John Henry’s POV. That’s all I got. This is one I’d like to reread.

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. 2003, maybe, not sure. Four stars. Pre-Goodreads. I’ve read a few more Lively novels since then and I definitely enjoy her, but this one is a big old blank for me.

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. Read in 2009. Four stars. I remember it was a historical fiction adventure, a page-turner, and I really liked it.  That’s it!

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier. Read – who knows?  2004? Four stars. I remember a dual narrative, one present-day and one historical, set in France. I read a lot of Chevalier and they kind of blend together in my mind.

Songs Without Words by Ann Packer. Read in 2007. Five Stars. I even marked this as a “favorite!” I remember it was about a friendship. Good grief.

The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman. Read in 2003. Four stars. I was on a huge Lipman kick that year. (I remember that because I was reading her the summer I went through a bad breakup.) Anyway, I adored her books, so funny and smart, and I do intend to reread her novels someday. She’s lighter but so witty, which is a tough balancing act.

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler. Read in 2009. Four stars. She’s one of my favorite authors, but I confess her plot lines tend to blur in my mind a bit.

What struck me as I out together this list was: 1) how white it was and 2) how much of an impact this blog has made on my book memory. I believe that the act of writing a review, even a mini-review, makes a book more memorable. Also, I think it’s okay that we passionate readers forget books. Unless you have a photographic memory or something, you only have so much space in the brain for books. You’ve got to remember song lyrics and movie plotlines, that U2 concert in 2005 and your high school class trip to New York City, your kid’s dentist appointment and where you put your phone and keys, right? Sometimes it’s okay to enjoy something and let it go. I think it’s still there somewhere inside of you, if it was a book that made you feel something. And if you want to badly enough, you can always reread it. 🙂

So what makes a book memorable for you? Do you think blogging (or Goodreads) helps you remember a book better? Have you read any of the books on my list and do you remember them better than I do?



31 thoughts on “TTT: Ten Books I Really Liked But Can’t Remember Anything About

  1. I like what you said about letting go. Sometimes some books serve a certain purpose and are right for a given season but then that’s just it. I recently tried to read a book that I really loved in my early teens. Its one of the first ‘big’ books that I ever read. Two weeks later, I have just gotten through 50 pages and can’t get myself to finish it though I can’t remember anything about the plot.

    Moon Tiger was my book club pick sometime back. Its the only book club read that I decided not to participate in because it seemed so complex. I think I will pick it up someday because you mentioned liking it even if it wasn’t memorable.

    Well crafted characters(especially those I can relate with), settings and a captivating plot-line makes a book memorable for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a really fun post idea! It explains why I’ve forced myself to write responses to pretty much all the books I’ve read since 2010, because otherwise the books feel “lost”, even though I know what I rated them. A review can be as short as a few sentences, but has to say something beyond the plot to remind me what my reaction was and what I took away from the book.

    I’ve read The Virgin Blue, and different titles from five of the other authors you mention. Haven Kimmel is an author I’d really like to try, though I’ve heard more about her memoirs than her fiction. I have a copy of A Girl Named Zippy back in America.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had to laugh while reading your review. I know this only too well. One time, I read a book and realized during the last 10 pages that I had already read it once before. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it any better the second time around, which really annoyed me. If you accidentally read a book twice, it should at least be one you enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t remember Saint Maybe either. I looked it up just now, to remind myself, and that didn’t even spark many memories. I can blame part of this on the fact that I had my first child a couple of years after this book came out, so I never reread it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Any book I loved or hated and reviewed on GTL is memorable in some way for me. Books in the middle, not so much, even if I reviewed them. Karen Joy Fowler is a hard author to remember because her plot jumped around a lot. The one about the ape was full of convoluted memory.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting – I’ve not read that one because of the ape (I tend to avoid anything with animals in the plotline. Self-protective thing, too sensitive.) Normally I would agree with you about books in the middle but two of these I rated five stars! I blame it on shifting tastes. If I read them now perhaps I wouldn’t rate them so highly. What I read and love now has changed in ten years.


  6. I agree with all of your points here-very perceptive! Of course it’s ok for us to forget stuff, we read more than half the world’s population so it’s expected that we can’t remember all of it. Especially women and mothers, we have so many freaking things on the go that recalling a character’s name from a book we read a year ago is down on our priority list 🙂

    I also think writing reviews helps us remember, or at least personally, it reminds me of how the book made me feel, which is the most important part I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anne, I agree about the how it made you feel part. That’s definitely most important for me. I hadn’t thought about the “we read more than most people” thing. I wonder if I only read 5-10 books a year if I’d remember every single one of them in more detail. Probably? Perceptive point!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Haha, I could add almost every book I’ve ever read to this list! In fact, that’s partly why I started writing reviews – so I’d remember a bit more about the books I’ve read, good and bad. I still often forget, but at least now I can look back and see what I thought at the time. So definitely blogging has made a difference for me…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a great topic! I would have so many books to list.
    I do think writing about books helps me to remember them – I spend so much more time thinking about them. It’ll be interesting to see 5 or 10 years from now how well I remember the books I’ve blogged about.
    As for the pre-blog books, like you I remember the way they made me feel, rather than what happened. I think that counts for something, though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The only one of these I’ve read is Moon Tiger, and relatively recently too. I read it with a friend and I think our discussion of the book definitely helped some of key points settle in, but overall it’s a rather interior story, and I wonder if those stories are harder to remember overall. When you spend a lot of time in a character’s mind and heart, rather than following an exterior plot-stuffed story, and it does end up being more about a feeling which remains, rather than details. As you’ve said, I don’t think there’s any reason to scott at that. But maybe it is a good idea to think of re-reading, maybe when one is stuck in that between-books funk?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The conclusion to this post is 100% on point. We only have so much space in our brains! How are we, the voracious readers of the world, going to still function as human beings if we are memorizing all the books we’ve read?!

    But seriously, you are not alone. I have found that writing down my thoughts helps me keep books in my head longer. But discussing a book aloud with others helps the most! That’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about books clubs, honestly. They make it easy to remember my favorite (and least favorite) novels!

    I haven’t read any of the books you’ve listed here. I was going to ask where you recommend I start digging into this list, but the whole point is you can’t recall the details. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s always a weird feeling when I can’t remember even reading a book! I do agree with your statement “I think it’s okay that we passionate readers forget books.” and I also agree that the more I write, the more I remember. I probably should write more in my posts…

    Liked by 1 person

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