I remember being in 4th grade and listening to my teacher read us The Chronicles of Narnia. More specifically, he read The Magician’s Nephew. Everyday, for a small-allotted amount of time, we would hear a chapter or two before leaving for the day.
I can probably remember it so vividly because I enjoyed it more than I even realized. It fueled this fiction-loving passion that I had yet to discover. It was adventure and magic and imagination.
I looked forward to those days of reading. I loved that book.
The thing is: I can’t remember that book. There was an attic leading between houses, right? And ponds…or were they rings? Something transported someone…somewhere? I think there was a horse.
The truth is, as much as I can say I loved The Magician’s Nephew, I barely remember a an inkling about it beyond a few key words. And it’s not just Narnia that gives me this problem. Books I read as early as last year are getting harder for me to recall when I’ve read so many books since then.
I can’t remember plot lines, character descriptions, or betrayals. I’m constantly looking up book talks to jog my memory. It’s frustrating. I feel like I’m betraying these books or that I can’t talk about enjoying them because I wouldn’t be able to tell you my favorite character or quote right off the top of my head.
So can I still say that I have strong feelings for these books? Am I allowed to profess my undying love for literature I can’t remember?
I want to say yes. Though I can’t recall details about The Magician’s Nephew, I can tell you how it made me feel. I felt like magic was real, like I could have adventures and travel to other worlds.
I had fun listening to my teacher read it. I let it take me to Narnia and back home again. And I think that’s enough to still call it love.
I don’t find any shame in not remembering books. As readers, we submerge ourselves in so many worlds and stories, are we really expected to remember every single one? And is our opinion invalid simply because we haven’t read the book in a really long time?
Of course not.
But no matter what the book was about, if it contained your favorite ship or a quote you live by, the remembering isn’t always about the written words or the plot lines. Sometimes, the lasting memories are the feelings we experienced while reading these tales. Sometimes, it’s remembering how it felt to be a tiny little 4th grader falling in love with a book for the very first time. And that’s good enough for me.
By Ashley Artrip