Chatterbox: Do you remember book specifics?

February 6, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Chatterbox, Features


You know that moment when someone asks you a bookish question, and your mind goes completely blank? Things like, “What was your favourite moment in the Vampire Academy series?”, “What happened at the end of x book?” and “What was your favourite quote?”. Usually these questions are accompanied by an awkward silence and me slowly inching away, because for an avid book reviewer like me, I just can’t seem to remember specifics about my favourite series.

The truth is, I’m known for my goldfish memory. It prevents me from remembering things people have mentioned to me previously, recalling character names as soon as I’ve finished the book, much less specific scenes or quotes in a particular series. I’m also terrible at remembering secondary characters, minor events, conversations, world building specifics and who some characters are. Which is why confusing or heavily detailed books and I don’t stand a chance (The real reason why I won’t read A Song of Ice and Fire, despite loving the TV Show).


I came to the conclusion that my short term memory loss is because of all the things that I choose to fill my mental capacity with. My daily life is filled with so many hobbies and different circumstances which require me to think and fill my brain – from blogging, reading, gaming, work, reviewing and socialising. There’s only so much brain capacity of things that I can retain.

So how does one overcome the seemingly large obstacle of failing to remember certain things especially for an avid reviewer? That’s actually why I started reviewing books (and movies, and games) so I could go back and refer to my thoughts of it at a certain time, a surefire way to jog my memory. For reviewing, I tend to tab or highlight on a Kindle the passages which I like, and Goodreads helps me remember character names. I also like to have discussions and buddy reads while reading, so I can chat over plot points with other people.

I couldn’t have a discussion about a book that I read over a month ago though, because chances are, I would have filled my brain with other things in the meantime.

Do you have a bad memory when it comes to books? How do you cope with it?

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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97 responses to “Chatterbox: Do you remember book specifics?

  1. Like you, my memory in terms of everything in general is pretty short. But come to think of your reasoning, I think I may share the same thing – I am simply doing so much and remembering a lot of different things so there isn't too much space for details. In a few of my ultimately tip top books I remember details, and random ones at that. But the majority I forget – especially when it comes to certain quotes or names of secondary characters. Which is why, as you put it, my reviews are such a benefit to my memory!
    My recent post The Glass Arrow (Review & Giveaway!)

  2. Jaz

    Oh I'm the total opposite. Really special moments and quotes stick with me so well. I can tell you my favourite moment/quote from a whole list of my favourite books. I think that's when I know a book is good – when certain moments really stick out and are memorable among all the books I've read!

  3. danielleisbusyreading

    My memory is actually pretty good! I think it's because I tend to read a book much slower than I HAVE to, so I'm able to retain more things. Of course, specifics of books I read ages ago would be hard to come by, but I think I can remember the main things. Highlighting in my Kindle definitely helps. As does reading friends' reviews.

    • Ah, that\’s good, I think reading it slower and taking the time to digest things definitely helps to remember. I like thinking about things while I\’m not reading the book too like characters and what\’s going to happen. BUt this only happens with long books, otherwise I\’m reading quite fast!

  4. I have a bad memory too that's why I prefer reading series in one go so I can read the story continuously, without waiting for a year for the next book. Otherwise, I have to re-read books before I read the sequel. It's more bad if I'm on the third book because that means I have to read starting from book 1. I never had this issue when I was younger. I guess one reason for that is because I only have Harry Potter books to read unlike now, I read 50+ books a year. It's a miracle if I remember the books I read months ago.

  5. I'm really random when it comes to remembering specifics in books. It just depends on the book and not how long ago I've read it. Like Harry Potter, I think I remember more details in that than book 7 even though I read that one most recently. I just crappy memory is nice for re-reading those old favourites 😉
    I'm so happy ebooks/ereaders have highlighting function, ha. Saves me a lot of hassle when I need to write reviews!

    Great discussion, Jeann!
    My recent post Musing About Things: Multiple Copies of the Same Book

    • That is fantastic Val, I\’m alright for a while but then I look back at reviews I wrote 2 years ago and couldn\’t even remember writing them!

  6. I forget things to a degree. How much I forget depends on if I liked the book or not, which usually factors into my review. If I can't remember the main character's name or her love interest's name in a day, obviously it wasn't a good book for me.

    But forgetting things can come in handy sometimes, especially since I reread a lot. Like this weekend I just reread one of my favorite series, and since it had been about 2 years since I last read them, I had forgotten most of the story, so it was like reading it for the first time.
    My recent post Book Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

    • Wow, I totally know what you mean when it comes to re-reading, especially if you know you loved the book! you can totally just relax in it then.

  7. Bec

    I tend to have an amazing memory! I need to for uni and exams, but this usually also crosses to all aspects of my life. Ask me something that happened a year ago and I will probably be able to tell you most of what happened. Memory is my super power 😛

    Saying that, there are ties when I draw blanks like you. And this is tending to happen more and more with books. If I haven't read the series in a few years, or didn't LOVE the book/series I probably can't tell you anything about it.
    My recent post Review: The Cinderella Moment by Jennifer Kloester

    • You dooo Bec, that\’s why I\’m so embarrassed when you remind me of something we\’ve talked about before and I\’m like…oh! But yeah, I really struggle with some books depending on the effect they leave on me.

  8. I forget so much about books. I used to remember lots, but now I read so many books one after the other that they all kind of mesh together… If I've reread it multiple times then I remember much more. Usually, not too much though… Sometimes I forget main character's names… I usually remember the plot though, so that's good 😉 Nice post <33

    • I know what you mean, it\’s good you can remember the plot though! I remember key parts I guess, depending on the book. Thanks lovely!

  9. I can't remember book quotes worth crap. And I'm totally envious of those who can. I do a lot of highlighting and take shorthand notes. It's actually weird what I do remember compared to what I don't. Like, it could be the most random inconsequential thing. lol.
    My recent post Sunday Post #113 (2/8/15)

  10. Bec Graham

    This happens to me all. The. Time. I'm so glad it's not just me! The only quotes I remember are the ones that mean something to me. My favourite one is from The Infernal Devices:
    One must always be careful of books and what is inside them as words have the power to change us.

    But other than that, I can't remember book quotes haha

  11. This is actually one of my secret things I'm really upset about. People have always commented on how great my memory — teach me something in a class or mention something to me at work and I'm like a sponge. But the moment it comes to plots and characters and books, I'm rubbish. I remember every single detail through the end of the book, but ask me to remember something critical to the plot arc after about 3 weeks and I can't remember a single thing! It's so frustrating! Especially when all of your favorite books are never-ending series (it's probably the number one reason I have fallen so far behind on some of my previously favorite series/authors ever — I just can't remember enough of the previous books to actually get into the newer ones!)

    It's also why I try to write my reviews within a day of finishing the book — if I wait much longer than that, I'll forget what I was going to say!
    My recent post Weekend Writing Warriors: February 7 #8sunday

    • Oh I really struggle with books in a series as well, especially if I read them back to back. Writing reviews within a day is the best way to recall details I think.

    • Yeah, I do remember certain scenes especially if they are big plot points. That GR status update sounds like a great idea!

  12. OMG Jeann, I have the exact same problem. Plus what's worse is I don't write my review immediately. I set up a date for the review and write it on that date, meaning I've mostly forgotten ALL the specific details from the book. I usually have to go through Goodreads to find the character names and such again…eep. I know, horrible habit but I don't like taking notes when I'm reading because it distracts me from the flow of the story. 🙁

    • I know right, I just can\’t review a book that I read several weeks ago, I just wouldn\’t remember everything! Don\’t worry, I don\’t take notes as well. I just bookmark the page or highlight on the Kindle.

    • Yeah, that\’s so true Alise, when we all crammed before exams ehhe. I only recently found out about Recaptains, I\’ll have to check it out!

  13. Lyn

    Occasionally I'll remember the details of books I've read. However most of the time if you asked me what the story was about, who the characters were etc a few books later, I couldn't tell you anything. I put it down to the number of books I do read.

  14. My memory is absolutely awful when it comes to details and it's frustrating. I read Half Bad by Sally Green last month and I really loved it but I didn't write a review straight away and now I don't know if I can because I can't remember enough about it. I feel like it takes away from the credibility of my fangirling or ranting when I admit I don't recall certain details. I love Harry Potter but I couldn't tell you what happens in which book.

    • I totally agree, I think specific reviews are a lot better to gauge whether you liked the book or not. I\’m the same with Harry Potter!

  15. My memory is pretty good, but I don't remember things like quotes. If the book I'm reading isn't amazing I'll have trouble remembering boring secondary characters (literally, two pages after they're mentioned I'm all 'waaaait who's this dude again?!') I find the notes I write while reading a book help me remember things, but I need that trigger; I can't just recall stuff on my own!

    Like at work, I'm often asked 'so do you remember when this thing happened about a year ago..' if I sit and think about it, I often do remember, but I need the person asking to be specific. I won't remember what date it happened, or even the month, but I'll remember the event (and I can usually tell them what they want to know, phew!)

    Reading sequels can be problematic though, especially if a significant amount of time has passed. I need to flick through the previous book and re-read the last couple of chapters to recall it.

    Work and study both require so much memory function, I'm surprised I can cram it all in sometimes!
    My recent post Book Review: The Witching Elm by C.N. Crawford

    • HAHAH oh Wattle I totally know what you mean about boring secondary characters! Sometimes I\’m like whhhat and have to flip back and see who they were lol. I\’m the same as well when it comes to years and dates, I\’m rubbish at that but can remember events. I\’ll need to start reading more recaps before I read sequels, especially if they just delve straight in.

  16. Jae

    Even for my favorites, I have trouble recalling specifics! But if I haven't thought about a book or it wasn't entirely memorable to me after a week or two I basically forget about it. Which sucks since I started holding of writing a review until later on so I could read more books. I always highlight on my kindle but when it came to physical copies I only recently started tabbing. Half the time I skim to see if anything pops out at me to jog my memory though haha.
    My recent post Review: Through The Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

  17. lol do I have a bad memory with books?
    Seriously, it's so bad. Once I even finished a book, put it down and couldn't remember how it ended literally 5 mins after putting it down. I feel like that's pretty damn bad…
    In general, though, I remember bigger picture things, like certain lines that stick with me, or how awesome a character is, or how beautiful the writing is- I do tend to forget a lot of the plot details. Oh well! That's what rereads are for haha
    My recent post What's With All the Books About Suicide?

  18. Eugenia

    I think it's pretty hard to remember the minute details even after just finishing a book, unless you've taken notes. Once you've read more books after that and time passes, you're bound to forget some things! (we're only human after all). Talking about books with other people while you're reading/soon after finishing it definitely helps in remembering the key events and memorable moments. Fantastic discussion Jeann 🙂

    • Thank you Genie, it\’s interesting to see that many people relate and how different we all are when it comes to it!

  19. I'd say I have a bad book memory, but it really depends on the book. And I have no idea what makes a book memorable for me, and what makes it forgettable. But there are some books that I have read nearly two years ago, and still remember in clarity. And then there's the flipside, where I've read a book recently and can barely remember anything about it.

    I think it might depend on how much attention I paid to the book when I was reading it. Which is also linked to how much I was enjoying the book, or was invested in the storyline.

    But to be honest, I think it's really up in the air for me when it comes to remembering the specifics of books! XD
    My recent post After Dark Review: Hyde by Lauren Stewart

    • Oh man, I really struggle on books I read more than a year ago! Definitely the attention you pay to a book makes a difference. I mostly read on public transport, so when it gets loud or noisy I really struggle.

  20. I have pretty bad memory when it comes to books, too. I think it's because of the same reason as you. My mind is crammed with so many things regarding school that there's no space for anything else. Oftentimes when I try to read after I'm done with my homework, I won't be able to concentrate because I can't stop thinking of polynomial functions or Lewis Dot structures or some other complicated school stuff. Reviews really help me to look back and remember what the book was like, which is nice. I don't really stray away from complex books because I actually love them, but I have to be not thinking about anything else to enjoy them.
    My recent post Book Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

    • Absolutely, there are so many things we have to remember, I think once I\’ve read a book I tend to forget a lot of the details that I don\’t need to revisit. Reviews are definitely great to remember what we thought!

  21. inlibrisveritas

    I'm on both sides of this coin. Some books I can commit to memory, I still lose the fine details but for the most part I'll never forget a character's first name or the events of the book. Other books I look at a month later and kind of shrug (typically these are the 3.5 stars or less).
    I think it comes with the territory of blogging like we do though. We read so many books each week/month that it sort of becomes harder to keep commit them to memory. I mean I'm sort of thankful for it…if I had to go around with the 130 I average every year clogging up my brain I'd probably stop reading.
    My recent post Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

    • You\’re so right about us speed reading so many books while blogging. We need to get through them and can\’t commit every single thing to memory.

  22. It all depends on the book. If I absolutely loved it, then I can retain the main focal points indefinitely. But those not so awesome reads? Then that's why I have sticky tabs and highlight on my Kindle, I need that prompt to jog my memory about what I liked, what I didn't and the overall plot of the book.

    I'm a bit like Dory too, but mine is more due to the lack of concentration on my part. I'm really flightly like that. A complete scatterbrain. Great topic Jeann <3
    My recent post Dead Of Winter by Kresley Cole

    • Same with me, I do sticky tabs and Kindle highlighting as well. And yes, perhaps it\’s a lack of concentration or getting distracted too. I\’m like that as well, have so much on my mind at the best of times lol

  23. cassietheweird

    I always like seeing posts like this, because it shows how different we all are.

    I have an amazing memory. I can recite the first two pages of Harry Potter almost word-for-word, and it's been at least 3 years since I last read it.
    I can read four books at a time and keep all the characters and storylines straight in my head. I always know which is which.
    I can finish as many books as I can in a week, and then give you a detailed plot outline for every single one of them.
    I can watch a movie once and can quote all the best lines from it for weeks.

    It's funny, because I always see people talking about how they have to take notes while reading, otherwise they forget stuff for their review, but I've never needed to do that. I've always been capable of remembering stuff, and I rarely have trouble with book character names.
    (I sometimes have a bit of trouble with tv and movie character names, but that's because they aren't mentioned as often or as obviously).
    My recent post Harry Potter: A Magical Adventure

    • I completely agree Cassie, I love how everyone has responded with what works for them, it really shows how different we are. That is awesome Cassie that you can retain so many things, that is freaking amazing! I wish I could do that as well.

  24. Books, movies, life… you name it, I forget the deets. My husband remembers EVERYTHING which is really unfair when it comes to anniversaries & birthdays. LMAO! As far as story lines go, I'll often re-read my previous reviews to refresh my memory because unfortunately, I rarely have time to revisit a whole series prior to the next installment hitting shelves. This is also why I take notes while I'm knee deep in a title.
    My recent post Audiobook Review: Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost

    • Wow, lucky with your husband who remembers everything! I need to always remind my partner when something comes up lol. Taking notes is interesting, I\’ve never done that before but that\’s a great idea.

  25. Some things I remember quite well, but things like quotes or character names I seem to forget as soon as I close the book. I have a good memory, but I don't remember all those details either. That's what I like about writing reviews as when I read my own reviews I often remember what it felt like reading that book. Great post!
    My recent post Lola’s Kitchen: Peanut Pasta Recipe

  26. First answer before I even read the post: hell no. I can’t even remember an MC’s name twenty four hours later when I try to sit down and write a review.

    I’ve just got a horrible memory in general, and when it does work I have to dedicate it to my job so I don’t get busted when I forget insurance cases that need handling! Also: post its. I find them everywhere, and they’re my best friends. Like little elves popping up and saying “YO DO THIS BEFORE THE MANAGER SHOWS UP”. Love those post its.

    I’ve actually started using them when I read – the little neon tab ones that I just stick over a section that I had a reaction to. That way when I go back to write the review, I can flip through each tab and remember that I wanted to mention something about it.
    My recent post Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

    • Hahah I love those post its, I use them a lot as well and I take notes of absolutely everything at work! You never know, even just writing it down helps you remember. I use those tabs as well for books.

  27. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I have a HORRIBLE memory. I don't know why; I try to remember what happened but my brain just throws that information away to make room for the hundreds of other books and series and uni information I need. Like you, I use Goodreads and my own reviews as reference. But sometimes that doesn't work, so I've been rereading more books lately!
    My recent post Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

    • I\’m exactly that same Marianne, and it\’s often books and stuff that gets forgotten lol! When I get busy at work, everything else goes out the window. Rereading is a great way to enjoy the experience 🙂

  28. I would say I have a pretty good memory when it comes to books and movies. I might forget about little details, like some secondary characters and their name or how the MC looks like, but I always remember the important line and my favorite quotes to a certain degree 🙂

    I also think that reviewing helps me to remember even more. It's easy to sometimes go back and think OH RIGHT, that's what happened.

    • That\’s pretty awesome Mel, I wish I could do the same without needing something to jog my memory! Reviewing is great to remember more, it\’s really helpful.

  29. This is so on point with how I am, so never fear you are not alone! I really need to start taking better notes when I'm reading so I can inject more quotes into my reviews but when I'm reading I'm in the zone and if I have to stop to take notes every few pages that messes with the flow. I also don't do so well with reading more than one book at a time. Right now I've figured out that if I take an ebook to work with me and save physical books for when I'm at home I can separate them better but to just sit at home and go back and forth between two books makes the details all meshed together.
    My recent post Friday Flicks

    • It does mess up with the flow, but when we want to go back to it later we forget where it is lol! eBooks make it easy to highlight quotes, but physical books are easier to flick through.

  30. I have terrible memory when it comes to remembering details from books I read. I can’t even count how many times someone asked me specific question about book I read months ago (and loved it) and I could not remember. I am not sure if there is way to cope. It is a reason why I re-read books in series when new instalment comes out after long pause. I blame it on the fact that I read so many books per year that it is impossible to remember all details.
    My recent post NO MORE WAITING #2: Addicted series

  31. We definitely share the same brain Jeann!
    I'm EXACTLY like you. I don't remember book specifics (unless I take like three days to think about nothing but that). I can't name a favorite character (unless they REALLY stand out from all the other books I've read for good or bad reasons), my favorite quotes, or my favorite scenes. I just know I don't like or I loved the book. That's also why I started reviewing the first place – so I know everything when I look back on how I felt about that book and why.
    My recent post Life Of A Blogger: Which Superpower Would You Choose?

  32. Yeah, I know the feeling here, it sucks, big time. I can be reading a book and forget the characters name, that is the most common one lately, but that could be because I'm reading so many so quickly.. Quotes, scenes, other names, it's hard, because I don't think we savour the books we read anymore, because we review them and then move onto the next. It's hard that way, it also sucks a little, but if we savoured them, we might remember them more? 🙂
    My recent post Personal Pickings – It Aint About The Money

    • That\’s such an interesting observation, because we\’re speeding through books it\’s hard to retain some of the details isn\’t it? That\’s why I like big books once in a while where I\’m forced to slow down and enjoy it.

  33. Actually… I have a pretty decent memory. Oddly enough, I tend to remember the most random things (like little details that somehow travel over several years) and I thought I had forgotten them.

    But honestly. When I REALLY need to remember something, I freeze up and forget. Anyone else ever feel that way, when you have a math test and you know everything and then when you actually take the test, everything literally disappears? O_O
    My recent post Blog Tour: Deceived – Excerpt + Giveaway

  34. Precious

    Unless it's a book that really stays with me, I completely forget about the book as soon as I'm done with it. That's why I try to start writing the review ASAP. I think it's normal to forget book specifics, so don't fret.

  35. My book memory is horrible! My co-blogger finished Eleanor and Park and few days ago and she texted me and asked me what I thought of the ending and I went blank, I had to pull the book up on my Kindle to see what she was talking about haha. This is why I don't like reading the first book in a series when it first comes out, I always forget everything by the time the next releases.
    My recent post Co-Discussion: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – WITH SPOILERS

    • LOL I think when put on the spot it\’s hard for us to remember things! I definitely forget things when the sequels come out.

  36. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Yes and no, LOL. When put on the spot like you were describing, 75% of the time I come up blank. The only knee-jerk response I've trained myself for is: I like blah, blah, what do you think I should read next? But favorite quotes? No way man. That's why I highlight like a demon when I'm reading a book for review.

    BUT. When it comes to tiny, minuscule details from other books (or movies) while I'm reading a different, but similar book . . . I'm a nuisance. I see every commonality, and sometimes I wish I didn't. Like with Golden Son–I know you loved it, and so did I, but that part that so closely resembles a scene from Star Trek (doyouknowwhatimtalkingabout), really bugged me. REALLY bugged me. Blah.

    Great discussion post 😉
    My recent post Review: California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout

    • I highlight every book I read now, and some books I still have the sticky tabs in them where I\’ve tagged certain points lol. YES I totally know what you mean about similar parts! Like I couldn\’t get my head around the similarities between a scene in Golden Son and the Red Wedding in GoT!

  37. Haha yeah I get this sometimes. I actually have a pretty good memory so I find it easier to recall MCs and authors and who published the book, but like things that happened? That's just so much harder and my poor brain cannot contain all the information.

    • It\’s so weird, I\’m the other way around! I sometimes get MCs and publishers muddled but I can remember things that happened a lot better.

  38. I have the exact same problem and I don't suffer from this "busily filled life" you speak of. But I thought I was the only one who forgot names as soon as they finished the book! I finish a book and then I try to type up a review for it and I'm like… wait what was her name again?

    The upside about this is that when you reread a book, you get to discover everything all over again, even the surprises and plot twists 😀
    My recent post What Makes A Book Boyfriend?

    • Hehe, I guess it happens to the best of us! It\’s so surprising, I don\’t actually re-read books much, but when I do it\’s like I\’ve never read it before. I would remember main plot points, but not everything in between.

  39. ruthsic

    I have terrible memory when it comes to remembering anything resembling people, be it characters in a book or people in real life. Compounded with the fact that I read a LOT of books, I'm sure it is easy to imagine how I fare when someone wants to discuss a book with me. Sometimes, I even forget what the plot was about.

    I usually take a few notes while reading, or mark passages. Other times, I read back on my review, but since I don't really elaborate on plot and details due to spoiler issues, I rely on skimming through the book again. Recaptains is a good site if you want to refresh your memory.

  40. Cynthia

    Oh I have a bad memory with books too! I can remember major plot points and characters of course. But when someone mentions a fight scene or a particular spot of dialogue, I just nod my head and pretend like I know what I am talking about. Ha, glad I am not the only one.
    My recent post To Kill A Mockingbird Excitement!

    • Hahha that\’s hilarious, exactly what I do too! It\’s so embarrassing to own up to it lol especially if you\’re a big fan (eg. like VA and Harry Potter)

    • Oh my gosh, it\’s those OzYAChat and PTAChat questions that really threw me off! Especially when we\’re talking about VA, I\’m like why don\’t I knowwww

  41. I HAVE A WICKEDLY BAD MEMORY. Like, to the point where I will forget a book completely if I do not review it within 12 hours of finishing. 0.0 It's pretty bad. (This is also the reason I write really fast…I just don't remember what I've said if it's been too long.) It makes me wish I reread more…but at the same time, there's too many gorgeously shiny new books I want to try. xD whAT IS A BOOKWORM TO DO?! I feel like it shouldn't matter if we forget things fast. That's what blogging is for right?! To remember!! And, well, when I do get around to rereading…it's almost like starting a whole new book, hehe.
    My recent post Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard || Deja vu?

    • I\’m so glad it\’s not just me Cait! I rarely re-read as well for the same thing that you mentioned, so many new shinies! Haha yes, blogging does help us remember.