Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Do You Have Book Amnesia?

Way back in 1991 I didn't have the Internet. We sure as hell didn't have the likes of Goodreads to help us keep track of our books. I had two lined journals into which I recorded the books I read, with some notes:

Cows and Star Trek. Don't judge.

Anyway, cut to 2013 and I'm filling out my Goodreads account with all the books I've read from 1991 through 2004, when I stopped recording. By the end I had become published, and began to spend more time writing. I'd still read, but the volume trickled to a near ooze. For years, though, I'd pledged to read every winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I still have a long way to go, and every time I go to a bookstore I check for an affordable copy of a book for my TBR.

Over the last year, I've looked around used bookstores for a copy of Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie. Yes, I could buy it from Amazon or elsewhere online easily, but the thrill of the hunt inspires me. The eBook version is more than $9.99, too, and I'm watching my pennies. This particular Pulitzer winner appealed to me, and unfortunately my library doesn't carry it. So while I wait for my next royalty check I've been poring through my diaries and transferring the books to Goodreads.

Last night, I saw this:

Sandwiched in between The Wizard of OZ and two Danielle Steel novels I read in July, 2003 is Foreign Affairs. According to my diary I have already read this book, yet for the past several years I believed I hadn't. It wasn't ticked off on my online TBR list, and I honestly have no memory of this book. I don't have a copy at home, and I have no memory of obtaining the book to read. Those Danielle Steel novels, however, I recall. In fact, I remember every last Steel novel I've read.

What's more, in the same month I read another Pulitzer winner, Anne Tyler's Breathing Lessons, and recall is zilch on that one. How could I have forgotten these books? Granted, it's been ten years - yet I've prided myself on having a sharp memory. To this day my husband and I reminisce about an amazing eggplant lasagna he cooked twenty years ago. I can remember when I was four years old and got into a car accident in Bozeman, Montana with my family. Why can't I remember two lousy books?

Yes, it's a first world problem, but it does bother me. I'm an author. What if ten years down the road somebody has no memory of reading any of my books? A friend tried to spin it positively for me: maybe that person would buy another copy and read it again. That helps, but I really want to remember reading Breathing Lessons and Foreign Affairs. I've ticked them off the Pulitzer TBR for now, but I feel as though I'd be cheating. I recall all the other Pulitzer books, so what's the deal?

Have you experienced book amnesia? Would you keep the read credit or pick up the book again? I'm leaning toward the latter.

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