tonight i finally filled up my virtual shelves on goodreads. i started by sitting in front of one shelf at a time (actual shelves, in my house) and typing titles into my laptop. this is tedious work, people! if any of you have actually entered every book you've ever read into goodreads, then i salute you. personally, i gave up after a hundred or so titles.
something struck me as i was going through my books, title by title - something alarming.
there were several books - not one but several - that i sat in front of thinking, "i know i want to give this 5 stars. i loved this book. i raved about it. look how the spine is all cracked and worn. i carried this book everywhere." but i could not give 5 stars, because for the life of me, i couldn't remember ONE SINGLE WORD of what was inside that beat-up cover.
now, i'm not talking about books i read this year or last but at least a decade ago. STILL. how can i not recall the stories? one book, in fact, by my beloved Kurt Vonnegut, i actually had to pick up and flip through. just looking at the cover, i could quote some of the lines - and sure enough, many of those lines were marked inside, by me - but even after reading the first few pages, i couldn't remember the plot.
i'm certain i'm not suffering from memory loss, so why is it i can't recall these books? was i not a careful reader for a few years of my life? or is it possible these books are just... forgettable?
that thought really scares me. i have too many books in the "to-be-read" pile to go back and reread all the ones i can't remember, but what if they are worth remembering?
i'm also afraid, ten or twenty years from now, i won't remember some of the amazing books i've read recently.
and scariest of all - i'm suddenly terrified my own books have to be more than smart or funny or moving or well-written. they must be memorable. but damned if i know the magic ingredient that makes a book memorable.
then again, if Vonnegut can write something forgettable, i guess i would be in good company.