What we know and what we forget

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know and forgetSince I’ve returned to my roots of reading, pulling out many old books to read once again, some as long as 40 years since last opened, it has become clear what I know pales before what I forget.

For example, I know the reason I kept these books through all my moves and, in some places, extreme space considerations, was that these books by these authors were books I had once enjoyed immensely.

What I forgot, though, was just how accurately the word “immensely” describes my enjoyment. Even re-reading the book. Even after 40 years of (theoretically) maturing tastes.

Throughout those moves, first away to school and then in a series of moves with my Mom and Sister and eventually on my own, I jettisoned other parts of my life that bordered on clutter.

Gone are the LP albums. Gone are the cassettes and discs. Gone are the magazines of my youth.

The only things that remained were my comic books (and those now leave annually to Halloween trick or treaters) and my paperbacks.

I didn’t keep them because they were “first editions” (though many are). I didn’t keep them because of cool cover art (though many of them do have) or collectible value (doubtful).

I kept them because, at one time, I had loved reading them and always imagined, in my sunset years, I would pull them out and read them once more.

My delight at realizing a renewed appreciation for the stories comes with a little surprise. Not that the books were good, after all, I know the artistry of these authors is grand.

No, it was that my pleasure in reading them, despite the span of decades, feels as fresh as if I had never read them at all.

I had been trying to force myself to “broaden” my reading choices. I either purchased or accepted loans of genres I had never previously been interested to read. These books were okay, some even interesting, but there was no true love in my heart or head for the tales.

Not like my old (and disturbingly large) collection of paperbacks from my youth. The flush of excitement, the quiet contentment upon finishing and the anticipation of the next rediscovery.

My surprise is not from the quality of the books. I know how good these authors are. What I forgot was how much I had once (and now again) enjoyed reading.

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