Yesterday when I got up I started reading a book, so I read from just before 8am and finished it around 9.30pm. I simply could not put it down it was so exciting. This morning lying in bed I was thinking about writing my review of it, but cannot for the life of me remember the name of the book or what it is about. I have absolutely no memory of it, nothing, other than reading a book so good I had to finish it in one go!
I am reluctant to look it up on my kindle to see what I have read as I wish to search for triggers enabling me to bring all the information to mind and there is a part of me that doesn’t wish to hurry this process. Take it slowly, do it right, no frantic word search in my mind to find the key, no frustrating inward shouting at myself ‘what is it about’.
I will make another cup of coffee and see if I can work through this methodically to prove that I can remember it with the correct triggers I can give myself.
Right here goes: it was a thriller, but not horror …………. there’s the trigger and I have it – Before I Go To Sleep. Eureka! that was easy. My first memory was a hotel room….can I remember the names; Ben, Claire, Dr ?, Adam, but what was her name..Christine! Eureka again! Do I remember the details of the book? Some, not all, if I try to give you an outline I would get confused, I would not be able to get the sequence right but it does not matter because I know how it made me feel when I was reading it. I was excited, on the edge of my chair, I couldn’t put the book down and felt guilty about all the things I should be doing as I was reading, but still I could not put the book down.
So how do I review books when my memory about the storyline itself is so poor? I go on the fact that I know what I like, how a books makes me feel when I am reading it and what emotions am I get from the way the words make up the story. Does a book make me think, do I break down the plot in my mind, can I see what the author is trying to show me. Did the book give me the escape that I enjoy?
What the author is looking for in a review is whether the reader loves the book on as many levels as possible. No book will be loved by ALL because we have different tastes and enjoy different styles of writing. I struggled with the first Harry Potter book and could not read the rest because I dislike the way J K Rowling writes, however millions of people love reading the series. I do however love the films and believe her imagination is wonderful.
When I look at my Goodreads read-books-list there are titles I have no knowledge of reading or what the books are about which means I could read them again as if they are fresh to me, but reading a style of writing that is comfortable is not challenging my cognitive processes. Finding grammatical errors in a book with writing that lacks the finesse of established skilled authors exercises my cognitive skills, because I am determined to focus on understanding the story. This is not always easy when there are days when I struggle with the construction of sentences and have to read the same paragraph repeatedly to make sense of it. It is often easier for me to leave the book and do some writing.
In my thoughts words flow so easily, I don’t struggle to express myself and can say exactly what I want to say. The difficulty begins the moment I come to speak aloud, then the ability to retain this flow is completely lost; the connection between my brain and mouth is faulty. I can however write better than I can talk and I believe this is because I am a touch typist. I think – and the words appear in front of me like magic, but if I stop to construct a thought to write it down it disappears. Sadly though this ability does not encompass my memory. I do have to read over what I have written and rewrite quite a bit though because my fingers are sometimes wayward and write their own things down! The process of writing takes more time and effort than it used to.
But today I am rewarded finally with some memory of the book I am about to review, so with the addition of flicking through the pages to remind me of the story and using the notes I have made whilst reading, I shall write my review.
13 thoughts on “Brain to mouth, Receiving, Over?……..(Silence)”
So interested in this entry since I review books professionally and have also published fiction myself. I always wait a day or two to write after reading to see what I remember emotionally. Although I do not have official cognitive impairment I too struggle to hold on to factual details, but because I have to account to an editor for factual accuracy, I keep copious notes, with page numbers, as I write and also highlight. But the intuitive reaction is the most important and the one that lingers.
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I agree with that, there are bits that stick with me which I focus on. I wish I could remember to make more notes, but it just doesn’t occur often enough to me. Even then my notes don’t match what I want to have recorded. Because I read for sheer pleasure, I would hate to have to record page numbers etc. constantly. 🙂
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I’ve given all of my fiction away except for some 6-7 very easy to read books. I was chatting to the local librarian when I handed over my last donation of 11 books by the same author last week.
She suggested making notes when I read which might help my memory, but I find it too tedious to do even that. So 350-400 fiction have gone to new homes, hopefully to engage many more readers with their words.
But, the non-fiction books mostly remain on my shelf (albeit greatly reduced in number) and I am slowly working my way through them all again. Seems to take forever to read just one book, but I do find I am remembering each chapter much better (than fiction).
The important thing is the pleasure one gets from reading. It’s not necessarily the memory of the actual story. It’s the drama, humour, adventure, romance that may make them enjoyable, but for me, its basically the sheer joy of that very moment when each piece of action happens in the story that renders it a ‘good read’. I agree that its an emotional thing.
I used to love books that you can’t put down and many years ago, it would be common for me to borrow 7-8 books from the local public library, come home, and read til 2.30am on a Sunday morning. I very quickly learned not to start a good adventure on a Sunday night, otherwise I’d by up til 2-3.00am and would have trouble getting up for work on the Monday morning.
I miss reading (like that).
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I totally get you Vicki. I have other dementia friends who are unable to enjoy reading the same as you. A few years ago when I moved onto my boat I gave away 1000’s of books I had accumulated throughout my lifetime, many were ‘old friends’ of mine, keeping back a small handful that I will never part with.
I often think about when I am unable to escape into a book anymore what will I do? Have you tried audio books?
My mind wanders when I listen to music, cassettes, conversations and so on. I seem to be able to focus only on gardening, photography and watching movies. I tire easily now and even find my long walks of the past diminishing. Now my walks are shorter and when chest pain strikes have to head for home earlier than planned, especially now my heart meds have increased recently.
I had Father’s Day with family up the country last Sunday and couldn’t follow the conversation at all. It just sounded like shrill laughter and words running in to each other. I find the stillness of Nature (or even my 88 yr old Father’s conversation) more easy to follow. Sure I can have a couple of cups of black coffee and focus better, but I choose to just melt into the background most of the time.
When you can’t escape into books, I’m sure you, like me, will find a substitute. One,…..kind of…..slides into a slower, more mellow state of mind. You focus on small things. You spend hours doing ‘nothing much in particular’ in complete contentment. I daresay you will find simple pastimes completely pleasurable.
I think your concern about loss of memory is very difficult at this time. You know what’s happening and can’t bear the thought of losing what you have. But when you have have full memory loss , I imagine you will be completely content, just as long as family and friends understand that you won’t be able to engage with ‘normal conversation and enjoy familiar relationships the same way as you do know.
I think it’s the family & friends of Alzheimer’s/Dementia patients that suffer as they lose the connection, not vice versa. You don’t miss what you can’t remember.
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The fact that you spent a day consumed by a book is so exciting! I love how you say that you remember the feeling. Isn’t that the most important thing? To spend our time doing things that make us feel good? With dementia, I know that there are good days and bad days, and while it would be nice to see a review from you about what you read…I am simply thrilled that your post sounds happy and contented. I will always view the book you read as a “good book” because it sustained you for a whole day! About the Harry Potter series, I hear ya, and I can see how it can be difficult for some people. I know some people with a different brain wiring, which the DSM calls autism, but in truth it’s just that they experience with different senses than what is expected of reading a book!
“In my thoughts words flow so easily, I don’t struggle to express myself and can say exactly what I want to say. The difficulty begins the moment I come to speak aloud, then the ability to retain this flow is completely lost; the connection between my brain and mouth is faulty.” Thank you for this…as someone who has been a caregiver to their mom and is specializing in working with families and people with dementia, these type of insights are invaluable. Your blog is helping so many of us, so I thank the higher powers that you’re able to type.
Love and prayers.
Thank you Henri.
I have to say I just don’t like the style of JK Rowling’s style of writing, I much prefer classic and well written books, and I think she lacks that. I often find it hard to review book that is so grammatically badly written, and try to focus on the plot.
I am so glad you are able to find my blog useful, I wonder if you have come across a dementia friend’s blog who is so eloquent at writing about how dementia affects people. I wonder if you have come across a dementia friend of mine’s blog http://www.truthfulkindness.com it is wonderfully informative and she is a real inspiration. 🙂
This was so interesting to read for me, as MIL is an avid reader (mainly only Agatha Christie type books though!) and I can never understand how she is able to still do that, given what I know of her short-term memory otherwise. Thank you!
Its nice to know that some of my ramblings is useful at times. 🙂
Hiya! I love your blog so I nominated you for the liebster-award check my post about it for the rules 🙂
Thank you, that is so kind of you. 🙂
I love your writing and your story. I love that you focus so much on getting lost in a book, the way the books make you feel. I often escape the dark world around me for the (often darker) world of books. There is just something refreshing and relaxing about not worrying about your next move and just being “along for the ride.”
I recently started listening to audio books on Audible, and I really enjoy it. I listened to The Girl with all the Gifts, a post-apocalyptic novel, on there. The narrator was British, and it was so soothing and enjoyable to listen to her read to me. You should definitely give it a try!
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Oh Heather yes I know what you mean about being ‘along for the ride’.
I have not tried Audible yet although have thought about it. I will definitely give it a try and see how it feels to listen to another voice in my head reading other than my own! The Girl with all the Gifts sounds like an interesting title, will let you know how it goes when I can slip in a listen. 🙂