Here’s an interesting article on reading and the memory of reading. Excerpt:
Those were glorious days, the ones I spent reading “Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case,” by Allen Weinstein. It is a book that I, having long had an interest in domestic Communist intrigues, had been meaning to read for years — decades — and I vividly remember that moment a couple of summers ago when, on my way to visit friends in New Hampshire, I found a hardcover copy in good condition at a restaurant-cum-used-book-store.
For the next few days, all I wanted to do was read “Perjury.” I tried to be a good sport about kayaking and fishing and roasting wieners with the kids, but I was always desperate to get back to Alger and Whittaker. The house where I was staying had been built on the edge of a lake, and I distinctly remember looking up from the book and seeing the sun sparkle on the clear, rippling water, then returning to the polluted gloom of the Case.
I remember it all, but there’s just one thing: I remember nothing about the book’s actual contents.
Before reading “Perjury,” I had an elementary understanding of the Hiss affair and the personalities involved; further, I knew that Hiss claimed to have known Chambers as “George Crosley.” Today, a couple of years after reading “Perjury,” I have an elementary understanding of the Hiss affair and the personalities involved; further, I know that Hiss claimed to have known Chambers as “George Crosley.” I have forgotten everything else. What was the point?
I have just realized something terrible about myself: I don’t remember the books I read.