Lola’s Ramblings: What do you Remember About a Book?

Posted February 25, 2016 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 24 Comments


Lola’s Ramblings is a feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews where I ramble on about a book related or a non-book related topic. These are discussion type of posts where I talk about a topic and readers can weigh in on the topic in the comments. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like tours, cover reveals, memes, challenges, recaps or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are discussions of a certain topic and my point of view on them. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.

Often when it comes to talking about why we write reviews people will mention it helps them remember the book better and they can look back at their review to see what they thought about the book and what they did and didn’t liked about it. And for me I think that’s definitely true. While my memory is pretty good, sometimes I find myself reading a review of a book I read and looking up my review of it so I can remember my exact thoughts I had after reading, but also things like what happened in the book. It’s like reading my review can refresh my memory that way and remind me of things I had forgotten about the book and my opinion of it. But there are also books where I don’t have to do that or books where I remember more about what I thought of a book than with other books. Which made me think about how some aspects from a book I easily remember and others not so much. When talking about remembering in this post I mean all the things about the content you remember months or even years later from a book you previously read.

Which books do I remember best?

Overal I remember the most about books that made an impression on me, so often the high rated books, books where something stood out or sometimes books I really disliked. Although I have a feeling that with good books I in general remember more than about books I really disliked. And the longer ago it was that I read a book the more it just tuns into a vague memory of I really didn’t like that one, it was okay, it was good or I loved it. Eventually it turns more into a vague memory or feeling than detailed memories. Then again there is a lot that I do remember and often while reading a review from another person it does make me remember my opinion of the things the reviewer mentions.

What aspects do I remember about a book?

In general I would say that the memorable things and aspects that stood out are those I remember well combined with my overal feel or opinion about the book. The details and character names are the things I forget soonest.

  • Overal plot line/ concept. I usualy remember the general direction the plot took or where the story was about, but no details or more specific scenes. Sometimes scenes I really liked will stay clearly or more an image of a scene or snapshots about what happened.
  • Plot Twists. Plot twists are memorable, so I usually remember the big plot twists. The smaller twists might not be as easy to remember, I guess it just depends on the plot twist and how much of an impact it left.
  • Foreshadowing. While I remember the big plot twists, I usually don’t remember the amount of foreshadowing and all the hints leading up to it. Foreshadowing is one of the reason I like re-reading, as I do remember that big plot twist and I love seeing the build-up more clearly when I know what’s coming. And I didn’t notice that the first time or forgot most of it already.
  • Specific scenes. This one really depends on the scenes, some scenes stay very clearly in my head and memory, some scenes I forget all together, others turn into a snapshot or more a vague feeling. Sometimes i have a clear visual in my head of the location of a scene, but might not remember specific details.
  • Character Names. I am so bad at remembering names. The weirder the name, the harder it is for me to remember, but even the relatively easy to remember names I might forget. Or I remember the feel of the name and then a dave turns into a David. If I am lucky I might at least remember the first leter of the name. I never am sure that when I remember a name if it’s the right one or not. When writing my review I often have to look up the names in the blurb, to make sure I get it right. So as soon as hours after reading or even during reading already I forget names. In real life it’s better, but in books, names are the first thing I forget. It also makes it hard to remember who is who as I so easily forget names, so reading a name might not always means I remember who that person is.
  • Character Personalities. I usually remember character personalities to a certain degree, more a certaan feel for their personalitity, but not the quirks or more specific small details. And then the personalities of the main characters I remember best, but those of side charactes less. Although sometimes specific side characters that I really liked I do remember better.
  • Character relationships. I usually do remember the relationships between the characetr or at least the most important side characters. The lesser know side characters I do have some trobule remembering who they are and how they fit into the story or how they relate to others. But who are the friends, lovers etc from the main character I usually remember.
  • What I did and didn’t like. I usually remember a few of the things I did and didn’t like about a book, even from books I read years ago I can tell a few of the things I did and didn’t like, not all, but some I do. And this is one of the things where I really appreciate my reviews as those usually help me remember these things.
  • World building. I usually remember whether I like dthe world building or not or how things worked, but not the specific things. I usually do keep a decent feel for the world building and the type of world a book had and which rules there were.
  • Details. I think it’s pretty logical that the details are the first things you forget, those small details that can make the story come alive are also those I most easily forget. Or I might remember there were a lot of details, but don’t remember the exact details.
  • Pace. I usually remember if a book was relaitvely fast or slow paced, but not always. The pace usually doesn’t leave a big impression on my overal opinion of the book, but in some books the pace really stands out and I might remember it in that case.
  • Order of events. Usually I do have a relatively okay idea of when what happened, but sometimes my memory of that get’s mixed up a bit. Like I can’t remember if scene A was before scene B or the other way around, but the big lines and order of things I usually do remember.
  • When I read a book. I usually have general or specific memories about when I read a book. I talked in details about this in my post a while ago.

So these are general trends of what I remember more and what less, but ofcourse it really depends on the book. There are books where I remember a lot and others that I read recently and I already forgot a lot. So there are definitely big individual differences when it comes to what I remember about a book and which details or scenes stand out.

What do you Remember About a Book? Which books do you remember best? And which aspects do you remember and which not? Anyone else horribly bad at remembering names?


24 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: What do you Remember About a Book?

  1. I’ve been a bookworm my whole life, and in the past, I’d read books and then completely forget them. And I mean completely. I would have books on my own bookshelf that I knew I must’ve read, but I literally couldn’t even tell you what the book was about. If I hadn’t seen it on my shelf, I’d never have known I read it.

    But in 2014 I started keeping a book journal. For every book I read, I write a summary and then what I liked, what I disliked, my favorite character/scene/quote (if I have any favorites), and any other thoughts I feel like putting down. It may seem kind of weird or a waste of time to other people, but I really like doing it. I’ve found that I actually remember books pretty well now. Even character names lol, which I used to be HOPELESS about. And if I happen to forget, or when the next book in a series comes out, I can just go read what I wrote and refresh myself (seriously my book journal is a savior in series). And since it’s not a formal review, it’s just something for myself, I don’t hold anything back or worry about perfectly expressing things. I can just ramble. I feel like it also helps me take more from the books I read by reflecting on them.

    As for all the specific things you remember, I pretty much agree. The smaller things fade out faster, but sometimes certain things—a specific scene, a line of dialogue, a setting, etc.—just really stand out and become unforgettable. But I do seem to have a major problem with the order of events in some books. Like, even while I’m reading, I’ll start forgetting the order. I run into that problem while writing my summaries and often have to go check lol. I think one more thing I sometimes remember is the feel and emotions of a book if it had strong ones. You always come up with the best discussion topics πŸ™‚
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Discussion: Do You Read Prequels?My Profile

    • That’s creepy you had books on your shelves and didn’t remember anything about it. Reviews are kinda like your book jounral, but then in other form and I write my reviews as much for myself as for others. I enjoyed writing my thoughts down, although yes with a review it does sort of has to make sense and I dont include spoilers. So I cna see how handy and fun such a book journal must be and how handy in case of series.

      Character names is my weak point, I always struggle with those. I usually do pretty okay with the order of things, or at least the big lines. And thanks! It can be quite difficult to come up with good discussion posts topics (hey I can write a post about that, lol), so I am glad to hear you like them πŸ™‚
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: What do you Remember About a Book?My Profile

  2. I could write a book about this. LOL I’ll try to keep it short here. I am terrible about names. I usually go read my review to refresh my memory, especially if I’m thinking of reading the next book in a series. If the world building is well executed, I remember that. And if I connected strongly with a character, I’ll remember that, even if their name has slipped my mind:) Another thing I forget a lot is what genre a book was. A trick I use sometimes is to go back to a book, start to read and, and then, if I enjoyed the story, it comes back to me.
    Great discussion this morning!
    Laura Thomas recently posted…This Would be Paradise by N.D. Iverson ~ Blurb Blitz and GiveawayMy Profile

    • I am more likely to remember a character their personality than name, I am so bad with names and like it when authors remind you a bit of who is who in the next book. I usually do that with my reviews, read my review and then the memories are a bit fresher again. Although genre is something I usually do remember.

  3. For me, I think it varies depending on story/series. There are some series where I remember certain one-liners “Here kitty, kitty” or “My name is Gin, and I kill people.” or “Holy sh*t, are you positive?” “As a pregnancy test a month after prom.”.

    Other stories, I remember characters. Some authors are so good at describing their characters, I can picture them in my mind even long after I’m done reading the book.

    I think the thing that is most important to me is the tone and feels that the book give me. Did it make me laugh? Did it make me fall in love with the characters? Did I want to move into the world in which it was built? Do I want to join the “gang” of characters in the story?

    Great topic Lola.
    Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons recently posted…Deadline Audiobook by Mira Grant (REVIEW)My Profile

  4. Mostly, I remember the characters and if something in the novel resonated deeply with me. An example would be, Looking for Alaska which I read years ago but I still easily remember the narrator’s name, Miles, and that he was both funny and cryptic, but was emotionally transformed by the incidents in the novel.

  5. For me it’s different when I’m just reading for pleasure versus reading to review.

    If it’s for pleasure I naturally tend to be less critical and just focus on HOW the book made me feel.

    If I’m reviewing then I’ll go down that list you have up there. I have to justify my rating so it has to come with praises and recommendations.

    Either way, it’s all about impression like you said.
    Braine recently posted…Echoes of the Ascended Series 101 w/ Mark Gelineau & Joe KingMy Profile

  6. Some books I don’t really remember much about (especially if it’s been many years since I read them) but I will always remember the feeling they gave me when I read them, so I’ll know if I liked them. Books I’ve reviewed I remember better (re-reading my reviews helps with that too!) but some books I will remember a lot of things about; they’re usually ones I really love though πŸ™‚
    Wattle recently posted…Book Review: Clancy of the Undertow by Christopher CurrieMy Profile

    • Reviewing books and reading those reviews definitely helps my memory. And indeed the books I really love are usually the ones I remember best. And the feeling books gave me is also one of those things I might remember or mroe a general feel about the books an if I enjoyed it or not.

  7. This post got me to giggling, but only because I have this issue quite often and was very much why I thought reviewing was a great idea. First of all, I’m lousy with names. I can just have read a five star book and not get the names right. Whether I remember the name or not is no indication of how much I loved or didn’t love the book.
    Just like I’ll probably never be one of those who rate a book low or average for being forgettable b/c I read so much that I do forget even the good ones if I don’t do a detailed review.
    Without notes, I remember bits and pieces. Sometimes its whole chunks of the book, a few scenes, impressions, emotional responses, etc. I’ll remember if I really didn’t like something or really loved something. Some writers cause me to have better recall than others because I connect or don’t connect with their style.
    So I guess the bottom line is; it depends. πŸ™‚
    Sophia Rose recently posted…#TGPUL with Lauren Smith – Forbidden: Her British Stepbrother #GiveawayMy Profile

    • I think reviewing books really helps to remember things or else have something to read to remember what you thought of a book. Same here, my memory of names says nothing about how much I lvoed a book and I also forget names of 5 star books. And even if I remember names I still look it up to make sure I got it right.
      Yes it depends would be a good way to sum up my whole post. I thought it would be interesting to detail general trends, but yes it still very much depends on the book. And yes there are also writers who’s style works for me and causes me to remember more. It’s interesting how memory works.

  8. I am terrible at remembering character names anymore!! I get so mad if I look back on my review and for some reason didn’t include the brother, BFF, or boyfriend’s names. Sometimes I even have a hard time remembering endings… and that is terrible because it’s usually never included in my or anyone else’s review. I used to religiously write down the plots of the books I read, but I started getting lazy about that. I really need to start it back up again though because it feels really terrible when I spent a chunk of time on something and I don’t even know how it turned out. I mean, what is the point of that???
    Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books recently posted…Share the Love (4)My Profile

    • I usually hope the character names are listed in the blurb. I usually won’t write names in my reviews as I have to look them up first usually, so I just use descriptions, not very handy when I want to remember names. Writing the plot down for a book does sound handy, but also like it would cost a lot of time. I guess you can always re-read a book when you forgot something.

  9. This is such an interesting question Lola! I find I remember really random things sometimes (mostly when something triggers it!) and then I have to work out what book it was from. Most of the time I read back reviews of previous books in the series to remind myself of it!
    Laura @trips down imagination road recently posted…Panic by JA HussMy Profile

    • It’s weird how sometimes you remember such random things and yes reviews or other thigns can trigger my memories as well. It’s frustrating when you remember something and can’t remember from which book it was. And reading reviews is a nice way to remind yourself of things about the book.

    • That’s interesting your remember settings so vividly. I visualize settings pretty well usually, so I think that’s why I often remember those well while remembering characters can be more difficult.

  10. I think for me its those stories that I was fully able to be engaged in…those impossible to put down books, stories that I easily can still re read and can remember just about everything about it at the top of a hat. Most of the times I remember the relationships the most.

    • You read a lot of romance, so I guess it makes sense you remember the relationships the most. And those stories that really engage you are the ones I most easily remember too.

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