TSS - Loved but Forgotton

Hey there Saloners! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. And, for all of those football fans out there, enjoy the Superbowl this evening. I'm not a huge football fan, but do love the camaraderie that sports brings forth. I invariably always root for the underdogs, in this case, the Saints perhaps?

Moving onto bookish thoughts though, there has been a "thing" that has been lurking in the back of my brain lately. Like all of you other book bloggers, I consider myself an avid reader. The plus of this is I get introduced to so many neat smurfy thoughts, worlds, and characters. The downside is, sometimes they (at best) blur together and (at worse) are long forgotten.

For example, there have been several occasions recently where I've read a review that someone has written and red lights start flashing in my head - Hey, I read that! I read that! So, um, of course I want to leave a comment, right? But then I wrack my brain and there's this dark deep black hole where the memory of that book has fallen into. The title is still there and this very light shade of familiarity. I can usually decide if I liked it, loved it, or hated it. But. That's. It.

So what to do in situations such as these? I could claim that I read it. Because I did. But can I truly own that reading when it's forgotten? I fear this dilemma will unfortunately only grow in size the more that I read. I vaguely remember this quote from somewhere. The main character, person, whom or whatever snickers and says: I have forgotten more than what you can hope to know. (Did I dream that? Does anyone know what I'm talking about??) So, I'm not so egotistically to shout that from the rooftops, but am a bit annoyed that I have misplaced my memories of the classics.

I decided to put together a list. Here I present to you:

The top ten books I loved but forgot why

1. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas by Frederick Douglas - I know that this is a book about Douglas's life and the lives of slaves. Outside of the vividness that I remember of this novel, the strongest association I have is Douglas wrote this to validate/own his existence.

2. Cadide by Voltaire - This book, read nearly twenty years ago, left an impression but I have no clue on the specifics. I do remember a flogging scene that left me shuddering.

3. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner - This book made me want to read more Faulkner (although I never did). It was also my first introduction to characters narrating different chapters. The thought of a family of kids carrying their dead mother (? was it the mother?) around in a coffin is still very creepy and dark.

4. The Plague by Albert Camus - OK so I went through this thing where I was fascinated by the Black Death. I couldn't get my hands on enough BD literature. In my naivete I didn't even recognize the philosophical aspects of this book until years later. And still, even now, I would love to re-read this. I recall people being at a fancy vacation place of sorts only to be faced with death.

5. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin - I could not even tell you why I picked up this book when I did, freshman year in college. Maybe it was on a suggested reading list? In any case, I did not know how powerful of a book it was while reading it (this seems to be a trend). I remember the struggles made me pretty sad. Which really, is a rather shallow thing to say because the novella is so much more.

6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - A family traveling across the country. Depression. Disease. Death. And in between all of the beefy chapters where we intact with the family are mini vignettes that tell of a larger story. Details outside of that escape me. Except for the symbolic ending of life continuing..

7. Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse - I read this during my existential crisis stage (right there with The Plague, see above). Yet Steppenwolf, well, embarrassingly enough I cannot even tell you what happens in this book. Nope. But it was powerful enough for me to read Siddartha and Demian also during that time period. Unfortunately I vaguely remember those books either. I have recently acquired The Glass Bead Game and hopefully after I read that, I will like it and remember it.

8. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath- I wanted to be in New York and friends with Plath while reading this book. Of course, I read this book around the time I wanted to be a writer and I hung out at bars spouting out "I drink. I write. That's what I do."

9. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser - I read this begrudgingly for a class in college. It was thick and the cover was outdated. Another one that I couldn't really tell you much about except I finished it and raved about it the rest of the semester. I know it was character driven and the woman became her own person.

10. Beloved by Tori Morrison - Which came first, Beloved? Song of Solomon? The Bluest Eyes? Paradise? I can't really recall because I devoured Morrison in a matter of months. In hindsight, perhaps if I took my time with her, I'd have a better recollection of her works.

So there you have it. For the most part, I'm embarrassed at how little I remember of these great pieces of literature. Plus, I've only narrowed it down to ten. While perusing through my old reading lists and required high school reading I found myself giving a nod to more than a handful that could have fallen into this category. I trust that I will keep blogging, if only because it helps me remember where I've been!

What about you? Do you have books that you loved but forgot why?


  1. Ironically, you have several books that are my absolute favorites on there (The Grapes of Wrath, The Bell Jar, As I Lay Dying), as well as several that I read but don't remember anything from (Candide, The Plague, Sister Carrie). I can also add to my list of "don't remember" The Sorrows of Young Werther and Catcher in the Rye. When people read books that I've read but don't remember, I generally comment saying I loved it or read it but don't remember and should reread...

  2. I think it would be really difficult to keep every book within our memory as we all read so much. Only way to remember is to keep account of what you liked about each book in a journal or print off your blog posts.

  3. I know exactly what you mean. Blogging has helped a lot with that because I can usually remember something about the books I've blogged about, but many books I read pre-blog are in a sort of black hole.

    A few I know I loved but don't know why: Blind Assassin and The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, Middlemarch by George Eliot. I want to reread all of these at some point.

  4. I think your list of forgotten books would make for an excellent reading list. I've read all of them but Herman Hesse, loved all of them but Sister Carrie.

    Oh, wait. No I remember. I never read Sister Carrie. I read An American Tragedy by the same author.


  5. A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller really impacted me at the time I read it in high school. But years later when I thought I'd give this beloved book to a nephew, I couldn't remember anything about it!

    I am forever forgetting the books that I read and that's exactly why I had to start keeping a list of the titles at the very least (often I STILL can't remember the plot or characters even with a few cryptic notes to myself). It's sad really....

  6. Great concept! I find myself telling people, "Oh, that's a great book," and when asked why, I'm forced to say, "Well, uh, I remember really loving it." Augh, haha. This is why I like to reread--to reexperience, to remind myself.

    And, well, at the moment, I can't remember the books I've loved but forgotten. D'oh.


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