Meme: Book memories

I’ve been tagged for the Book Memories Meme by Julie of Happy Catholic. Sure, ask me to talk about books. Twist my arm.

1. Do you associate reading particular books with the places you read them or events of the time you read them?

Absolutely. In fact, I do that with music too for some reason, and I associate stories I was writing with the places in which I was writing them. 

Now, what’s odd is that I don’t often read books in one place, and yet I don’t associate the story with all the places. I did an awful lot of reading on the subways during high school (I was going through two books a week in addition to homework) and yet, I’ll associate a book with one subway stop.  I associate the Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was by Barry Hughart with the Myrtle Avenue stop on the L (if you’ve read the book, the methods of torture scene is the one I was reading there, IIRC, and possibly also “Eat!” / “Gold!” That’s such a terrific book!) 

I don’t know why. Other books I associate with the “littler” stops on the L line as well. And there are a number of songs I associate with Broadway Junction even though I heard them a hundred times… But no books with that stop. The human brain is funny.

2. Do you remember the books you read or do they fade quickly? Or do you remember some better than others? How about remember details like character names, not just overall plot?

It depends on the quality of the book. Often I don’t remember character names unless the character was memorable. I remember really bad books and really good books equally well, but the ones in the middle I tend to blot out of my memory. I tend to forget book titles right away. Character names also fade quickly, but the situation, the character’s main problem, the character’s hidden problem, and the resolution all tend to stay with me. 

What this results in is a conversation with my father like, “Do you remember that book you loaned me? The one where there was a scientist who invented a gravity wave, and he had no self-confidence, so he decided to test it in secret, only that resulted in the Earth’s disappearance, and then –” And my father will reply, “That was Larry Chao from The Hunted Earth,” and I’ll remember then.

(Actually, I do remember Larry Chao’s name because I thought it was cool that his name was one letter away from Chaos. Interesting names also stay with me. Names like Dym’xxal don’t.)

3. Have you ever forgotten you’ve read/own a book and borrowed/bought it again?

Once this happened to me, but I forgive myself on the grounds that I was at a used book sale between college classes, and I didn’t have much time. I snatched up everything I could find by Diana Wynne Jones. When I got home, I realized two of the books were identical, but they had different covers. That’s the publisher playing dirty. I don’t like that.

I am tagging:

Ivy at Ivy’s Vine

Karen (first answered!) at

xdpaul at Strange Wind

CricketB at Cricket’s LJ

Cathy at Space Age Housewife



  1. Capt Cardor

    Actually, I would have remembered it as “The Ring of Charon” or “The Shattered Sphere”. The bum never finished the third volume “The Hunted Earth”. Now he is writing a science fiction series called “BSI” which stands for Bureau of Special Investigations. I read the first one and was ill. Here is a very talented writer producing trash.

    Oh Well.

  2. karen =^.,.^=

    cool – and i accept your tag! 🙂

  3. philangelus

    You could have rejected it, Karen. I’m used to rejection by now. 😉

    CC — Thanks for the real title. I could only remember the series title. It’s a shame that Roger MacBride Allen has gone that downhill. I loved those two books and “The Modular Man.”

    (I should add to the meme that I frequently remember the author name long after I’ve forgotten everything else. Go figure.)

  4. Pingback: Ivy’s Vine » Book Memories Meme

  5. xdpaul

    I begrudgingly accepted your challenge.

    And failed, I think.

    You were expecting better? You human beings and your hope. What shall we do with you?

  6. philangelus

    I’m very sorry to have touched you as a human, but unfortunately, I can’t be anything else right now. Nor ever, if my understanding is correct. 😉 But I should have at least worn latex gloves.

  7. xdpaul

    I’m allergic to latex. So that would have merely added gasoline to the fire. But it would have been a spectacular light show. Well, a very fascinating bubbly rash, at least.

  8. philangelus

    Please not to mention rashes. 🙁 Kiddo#2 just spent the weekend swollen like a grape due to a previously-unknown allergy to penicillin. 🙁

    I could use those non-latex purple gloves in the future, though. Or the white linen gloves, since I certainly don’t use them to test household surfaces for dust. 😉

    BTW, if you aren’t human, are you a dragon? I always wanted to make the acquaintance of a dragon.

  9. CricketB

    Ouch on the penicillin reaction!

    Oh, and I accept your meme, but it may take an hour or two to get to it.

  10. xdpaul

    Dragons are overrated. I’m allergic to them, too, but if you really want to meet one, you should pick up E.E. Knight’s Dragon Champion. Gets you inside their peculiar little heads, that one does.

    Common troll is all I am, just something to sneeze at. Particularly if you are allergic to heights and rather randomly swung axes and such.