I Read This Book, but…

sheltering sky

I read this book, but… nothing. I remember nothing!

Not uncommon as age begins to tortoise your once invulnerable hare. I’m experiencing that now. I picked up The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles a week or so back. I know I read it — in the 80s, to be exact. But Prophet H., the 80s are now 30 years in the rearview, sinking in time’s quicksand.

So, no. I don’t recall a thing. But I remember enjoying it, and isn’t that all that counts? Chances are, if you loved a book once, you’ll love it twice. In this case, an exotic locale (Northern Africa), a love triangle, and a writer’s writer all add up. What’s not to like?

This is why I don’t understand people who say they’re too busy for rereads. In the first place, even if you do recall a book, as in, say, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it’s not going to be the same book because you are a different reader.

Through an eye darkly, my friends. As with wine, age is everything, and anything seen through the prism of experience and world-weariness will change. The Buddha promised as much.

As for readers who refuse to quit a book, pressing on despite oppressive boredom? A different story. Fools on the hill, minus their Beatles. With so many quality books, the vast majority undiscovered lands, there’s little reason to waste your precious resources (read: remaining years on planet Earth) reading crap — or “art” that bores you, even.

Bottom line? Reread. Especially if it has been decades. Especially if you recall the experience as pleasant. It will be a Brave Old World all over again…



2 thoughts on “I Read This Book, but…

  1. Happens (i.e. forgetting) all the time to me. A little less frequently since I’ve been reviewing books. That helps me to have to pay attention to factors that I wouldn’t in reading for enjoyment (e.g. theme.)


    • Reviewing helps, to be sure, but 30 years ago I wasn’t in the habit. Now I am, even if the reviews are brief. Still, if you read a lot of books, there’s a certain blur… you know, like modern art. You have to stand back to appreciate (or bemoan) it!


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