Read anything good lately? Yes!...Uh, I remember it had some words...
September 1, 2017 1:49 PM   Subscribe

How can I get better at quickly recalling the titles of books I've read recently?

I read a lot, averaging at least a book a week, sometimes more. I religiously log everything I read in Goodreads and can recall a tremendous amount about individual titles when discussing them, but when someone asks me simply what I've been reading recently, my mind goes blank and I simply cannot remember any titles without having to get out my phone and pull up my reading list. This is no doubt due to the high volume and quick speed at which I go through books.

I love discussing reading material with friends, family, and colleagues, and it's frustrating that I always have tons to say about my recent reads, but can't immediately recall them! Anyone have any tips for how I can get them to "stick" in my brain a bit better?

Thank you!
posted by anderjen to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Practice and Prep.

I've got a couple of friends with whom I always share books and with whom I don't see that often, so it's guaranteed to come up. So if I know I'll see them, I make a mental note on which book to tell them about. You-- review your list of books on your way to the get-together or at least have it open in you phone's browser.

If the book is hard to describe, I'll try describing it to a wall or write something out quick. Sometimes I fall back on a printed description which I modify if I think the blurb misses the point or spoils too much.

And if I fail, as I do on occasion, to tell them about the book I really wanted to tell them about but forgot, I'll shoot them a followup email. I find myself shooting off 3-4 emails after a dinner party I attend: books/shows/movies I wanted to remind them of, recipes for the dish I brought, a news article I mentioned but couldn't articulate in an interesting way (my real kryptonite).
posted by Sunburnt at 2:03 PM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Every time you sit down to read your book, read the title and the author of the book half a dozen times.

I have the same problem, and mostly just solve it by pulling up my Goodreads account.
posted by gregr at 2:43 PM on September 1, 2017

I've never been any good at this. I now keep a list on my phone in the "Notes" app with title and author and am not afraid to pull it up during conversations to remind myself (telling people what I'm doing, of course).
posted by epj at 3:28 PM on September 1, 2017

I read a lot as well (over 80 for this year so far). I log them on Goodreads, but only rate ones I loved. And write a little blurb for myself. That little blurb helps me remember the book. And those become the ones I talk about. I find I only rate every fourth or fifth book and I don't try to remember the rest.
posted by Ftsqg at 3:31 PM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm with gregr in that I usually just pull up Goodreads on my phone via the app. I think a lot of book folks have the same problem. Since it's just a momentary glance at the phone it doesn't feel to me like it interrupts the conversation so much as it's an aid to get to the awesome conversation about books.
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 5:50 PM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I keep a list in the Notes app in my phone called THE ART I ATE, 2017.

As I finish consuming an art, I add it to the list- every book, movie, play, concert, gallery, and tv series I consume. I also record (p)art, meaning I get to about the halfway point but need to stop due to political outrage because all our faves are problematic.

It's fun looking back at everything, and also it's good motivation to be a well-rounded consumer of art if one category starts looking thin as the year progresses.

Anyway typing the name of the book or whatever helps me remember it later, and if I forget, it's just a few thumbs away.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:00 PM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I could never remember book titles. It's awful when you get an ebook and 2 minutes in you go "Shite!" I now write them down in my daily journal/notebook along with a very short blurb. It really helps.
posted by james33 at 5:45 AM on September 2, 2017

I noticed this problem when I started doing most of my reading on a Kindle. You simply never see the title of the book when you pick up the Kindle to continue reading. I wish it had a feature that flashed the cover image of the last book you read for 2 seconds every time you picked it up.
posted by COD at 7:15 AM on September 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have this problem as well. It helps me to keep my book list on Trello. The board is "Books" and each list is a year. Each book gets its own card.

The thing that really helps is that for each book/card, I make an image of the book cover as the card cover. It's easy to find an image -- I just do a Google image search, download the image, and then add it to the card.

On the back of the card, I can add reviews, notes, etc. (although I don't usually get to that).

I have the Trello app on my phone and tablet, so I can pull it up when I need it, even when I am not at home.

Like this!
posted by merejane at 9:40 AM on September 2, 2017

I do the same thing as merejane but with literal cards - download the book cover, print it on a 4x6 index card, add it to a photo album that lives in the bookcase. This obviously isn't very helpful on the go (I use Goodreads for that) but is a nice reminder of books I got from the library or read on my Kindle. Ebooks especially tend not to stick in my mind since there's not the visual/tactile memory of holding an actual book.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:30 AM on September 2, 2017

Thank you for all the suggestions! I'm deliberately trying to avoid having to pull up my Goodreads account because it really does seem to interrupt the flow of conversation in my case (discussion moves on to something else even in the few seconds it takes me to do that), so I think my best bet is reviewing my reading list at regular intervals (what did I read last week, last month, etc.) and especially before I know I'll be seeing bookish friends and family.

I also switched my Goodreads display from "table view" to "cover view" and I think that will help a lot.
posted by anderjen at 10:43 AM on September 3, 2017

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