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TSS: Reading of Years Past

August 15, 2010

The Sunday Salon.comHappy Sunday, all!

So this morning I was cleaning up old posts – hunting down broken links and missing images, etc. – and somehow doing that led to an almost 3-year-old review (for Cormac McCarthy’s The Road) showing up as a new post in people’s Google Readers. (At least, I think it’s just that one post. If everything I edited this morning is suddenly clogging your feed readers, I am truly, truly sorry.) Anyways, I have some very specific memories of what was going on in my life while I was listening to The Road, and I realized that it’s not unique in that respect. It’s why I keep my reading calendars and my reading spreadsheet – because often times a reminder of what book I was reading will pull up a whole host of other memories I had forgotten about.

With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look back over August 15ths of yore, see what I was reading, and what memories it triggered.


2010: Hah, short term memory, this one’s easy. I spent almost all of yesterday thoroughly absorbed in The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett, staying up late to finish it. Can’t wait for the sequel! As a total change of pace, this morning I picked up Stiff by Mary Roach, which thus far is gross but funny, as expected.

  2009: I’d just finished The Purloined Boy by Mortimus Clay. I’d been at a conference, and I took an afternoon with not very many relevant talks off. I had planned to read outside, but it was roasting hot, so I wound up in a comfy chair in the undergrad library, which had the advantage of air-conditioning but the disadvantage of freshman orientation tours walking past every ten minutes.

  2008: Another conference, although this one was nice enough weather-wise to sit and read Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli on a nice sunny patch of lawn… which I only found out had been chemically treated that morning after I’d been sitting on it for an hour.

  2007: I was coming back from vacation in Alaska, and slowly ploughing my way through Perdido Street Station by China Miéville, which I’d been working on for at least a week already.

  2006: I’d just gotten home after spending almost a week stranded mid-road-trip in the Middle of Nowhere, Kentucky, waiting for my poor broken-down car to be fixed. One of my first acts when I finally got home was to head to the library to pick up my hold of the newly-released A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin… If I’d had to stay in KY for any longer my hold would have expired and I’d have had to go back on the end of the list!

  2005: I’d just finished Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, and had also recently completed my year-o’-Wheel-of-Time audiobook listening, but there’s no really specific memories attached.

  2004: I remember driving to work very very early in the morning all that summer, listening to Belgarath the Sorcerer by David Eddings and enjoying the fact that I had the roads (and seemingly the town) to myself.

  2003: I’d moved to town less than a week before, and The Shelters of Stone by Jean M. Auel was the first book that got pulled off my newly-assembled bookcase and read in my new house.

What say you, readers? How strongly do books factor into your memories? What were you reading a year ago? Five years? Ten?

24 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2010 1:31 pm

    2009 – I was reading The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns by Elizabeth Leiknes. Wow that seems so long ago already!

    2008 – I was reading Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi

    2007 – I was in South Carolina about to drive to my friend Kelly’s wedding, and I stayed up late finishing What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman so I could give it to her.

    2003 was my August of classics, and I was reading Of Mice and Men mid-month.

    • August 18, 2010 11:18 am

      Lenore – I was also a little shocked at how long ago 2009 feels!

  2. August 15, 2010 1:36 pm

    I love looking back at what you were reading at this time in previous years! Enjoy Stiff–great book!

    • August 18, 2010 11:22 am

      Lola – I was surprised to see how often August 15th involved traveling, or recently returned from traveling.

  3. August 15, 2010 1:41 pm

    I’ve got a memory like a sieve, so my book blog will be a great way to look back on what I have read over time. It’d be really interesting to see how my book tastes change as I get older.

    • August 18, 2010 11:22 am

      Karen – Absolutely! If it weren’t for my reading list, I wouldn’t remember a thing!

  4. She permalink
    August 15, 2010 2:21 pm

    I truthfully don’t have a memory connection with books, but more of one with music. I can tell you when, where, and what I was doing when I was listening to a particular song, artist, or album.

    • August 18, 2010 11:23 am

      She – I don’t have much of a memory connection with music, just because I tend to listen to things so often that they’re all associated with many, many different events, whereas most books I only read once.

  5. August 15, 2010 3:45 pm

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t have a clue what I was reading last August. I remember what I read by location; I try to read something appropriate to the location when I travel.

    • August 18, 2010 11:24 am

      debnance – I’m trying to get better about reading appropriately my travels, but mostly I read whatever I can cram in my carry-on. :)

  6. August 15, 2010 3:57 pm

    I record my reading for that purpose, too, but I’ve only been doing it since 2006, so mine doesn’t go too far back! And they’re stored on a different computer. But it’s so much fun to see what memories are brought back just by thinking of what book I was reading. Also strange to go back a couple of blog years, but I’m glad I have that history to look at now.

    • August 18, 2010 11:26 am

      Meghan – I started recording my reading in the spring of 2003, so I’ve got a pretty good decent-length record, but I really wish I’d started sooner, since I have almost no memory of what I was reading (outside of coursework) in college.

  7. August 15, 2010 4:28 pm

    So organized! I used to note what I was reading in my journals but that was rather inconsistent. Now I keep track on Goodreads. I sometimes connect what I’m reading to a place but not a specific memory.

    Memory is such an odd thing! Some times a smell or sound can really bring something to mind.

    • August 18, 2010 11:26 am

      Gavin – Before I started using Librarything (in 2006), I kept my reading list on the inside covers of my journal too. :)

  8. August 15, 2010 5:21 pm

    A Feast for Crows reminds me of voting because it was released on Election Day, Nov 2005. I voted, bought the book, and spent the rest of the day reading. Couldn’t tell ya who or what I was voting for though!

    My handknits often bring up memories of where I was and what I was doing while I made them.

    • August 18, 2010 11:27 am

      Laura – Hmm, I was convinced A Feast for Crows was released summer of 2006…. maybe that’s just when I finally got to the top of the very long holds list at the library!

      And my knitting is mostly associated with whatever DVDs I was watching while I worked on them… there’s the Battlestar Galactica afghan, the Bones scarf, the True Blood baby blanket, etc. :)

  9. August 15, 2010 5:43 pm

    Sadly I don’t remember much from my pre-blogging years – I guess that’s part of why I started keeping track of my reading! I do know that six years ago I was reading The Once and Future King by T.H. White, though. That was the summer I got together with my boyfriend, and so I have some good memories associated with reading that book.

    • August 18, 2010 11:30 am

      Nymeth – Yes, I can see how that would be a pretty salient (and sweet!) memory. :)

  10. August 15, 2010 5:53 pm

    I don’t think that my memories are very strongly connected to reading boos. I remember the books themselves in some stand out cases,but I don’t link them with what is going on while i read them.

    • August 18, 2010 11:30 am

      Nicole – Do you have a different trigger? Or just a really good non-associative memory?

  11. August 15, 2010 7:48 pm

    I don’t tend to remember my books by a specific date (more a general timeframe), but rather by the books that I read previous to it and after it.

    Last year, around this time, I was struggling through some Salman Rushdie.

    (And I’ve definitely hit the library before even getting home from a trip- holds have a powerful sway over the bookish.)

    • August 18, 2010 11:31 am

      Omni – I don’t remember the specific dates either – I had to look them up on my Reading List.

  12. August 17, 2010 7:45 am

    I glanced back at my archives to see what I’ve read in August 15ths past, and although I remember reading those books, I have no sense of the time when I did it. Lucky I started keeping a book blog or I’d have no idea what I’d read already and what I hadn’t.

    • August 18, 2010 11:32 am

      Jenny – Argh, I know, I’m particularly bad with books from middle school and high school… there’s plenty that I think I’ve probably read, but am not sure one way or the other.

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