Many people judge a book’s potential by reading the reviews on the back, or gazing into the eyes of the author perched on a chair in a half-lit room, chin in palm. Still others enjoy the first page test, or for even a quicker vote, the first line of page one.
This essay goes straight to the back of the book.
How do you choose a book?
And what do you remember the most about it?
I was thinking about these things the other night when I couldn’t sleep. I ran a quick test on my own reading memory. I could barely recall the name of the author that wrote last month’s bookclub book, but I remember vividly a scene in John Irving’s The Cider House Rules– a book I read more than forty years ago. Yet, if you asked me, I’d say Irving’s A Prayer For Owen Meany is my favorite book of his.
There are lines in a book that I remember because they were so bad, (Hello anything by Dan Brown) or so extensively repeated, ( The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick) which oddly, outnumber the remembered quotes from books I love. It’s a mystery, how some things stick and other things- that I thought were so memorable or amazing at the time… have slipped away.