Weird Reading Habits

I’m a very weird reader, people. I read tons of mystery novels because that’s my way to unwind. But I never retain anything from them. And I mean I don’t retain anything at all.

For example, I finished a new mystery by Richard North Patterson 4 days ago. I like this author and the mystery was good. Yet, I already have absolutely no idea who the murderer was. I’m not even completely sure if there was a murder. As for the names of characters, I have no idea what they are.

In a way, it’s good because I can reread the same mystery literally a dozen times and always feel surprised by the ending. It saves money.

Of course, it isn’t like that when I read professionally. When I read what I call “an actual novel” (people who specialize in the mystery genre will now slaughter me, and with good reason, too), I remember the text so well that I can say months later if a certain word was used and around what page of the novel. I don’t mean words like “and” or “if”, of course. But if the text contained, say, the word “monster”, I will remember that for a very long time.

I’m a compendium of weirdnesses.

9 thoughts on “Weird Reading Habits

  1. yup, same here. it is like watching a sitcom for me, in and out. I picked up Dobson’s Emily Dickinson themed mystery and I swear I cannot recall how far in and/or if I actually finished it. I normally get at least half way into a mystery I’ve read already before I recall the conclusion.


  2. That is super strange! I can’t read murder mysteries because I retain everything and it horrifies me and my brain won’t stop thinking about them. (And for the same reason I can’t watch crime shows or medical dramas or really anything dramatic.) This isn’t true for any other genre, but for whatever reason I can’t do murder mysteries at all.


  3. I ca’t retain certain information from reading, too. I read a book once and then after I go back and reread excerpts from it to refresh my memory. I have the same kind of problem.


  4. I retain a little, but very little, and mysteries are my absolute favorite. While I read them I am fully absorbed, and that’s what is relaxing. I even get scared and turn all the lights in the house on. But once I’m done with the book its pretty well gone.

    I guess we only have so much room in our brain, and our brains know that was a “one-night stand” kind of relationship, the mystery and us. Thus, we dispose of the matter immediately.


  5. I didn’t know you liked mysteries! I’m curious though: as someone from an FSU country, what do you think of Boris Akunin (assuming that you’ve read his work)? Personally, I quite enjoy his work, but I read some reviewer at some point claiming that it was thinly-veiled authoritarian Putinist propaganda (I believe that was in the LA Times, but I can’t remember the article). I’m afraid I don’t know enough to have an opinion one way or the other.


    1. Of course, I read Akunin and of course I like him. 🙂 Akunin is not only a writer, he is also a famous blogger and he has recently become a political activist. His position is fiercely anti-Putin. I think he dislikes Putin more than I do. 🙂 So the article you mentioned probably confused him with somebody.

      It’s great to have a fellow Akunin fan on the blog. 🙂 🙂


  6. My mother is an extremely fast reader, but she has always had trouble remembering things she reads for more than a short time. She says that that began to happen after she took a course in rapid reading when she was a teenager in the 1930’s.

    I am curious whether you read these mysteries more rapidly; does reading more slowly affect your memory of what you read?


    1. I’m a speed reader, but I never took a course (I can read a thousand pages in a day if that’s all I did that day, and that’s been the case since at least age 9). I was reading before I went to kindergarten and I think that has something to do with it. When I read a novel, I open the page and then can’t really tell you what happens after that; it’s some kind of trance state. I retain most of it, as well. I like rereading the really good stuff, though, and have to say that I’ve probably read both Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass and Pride and Prejudice both in excess of 30 times or so. Some books never lose their charm, no matter how often I read them.

      Now, when I read something that’s not fiction, it’s an entirely different process. I have to hold myself back from reading to fast, and use a highlighter on important passages that I want to retain in toto.


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