I just submitted this as an article to BookCrossing.
ABSENT MINDED BOOK HUNTING
It was on the tip of my tongue… but I’ve forgotten it, again.
I’m sure my brain is at least one memory card short. Rarely can I remember author’s names when I’m in one of those mega bookstores looking for a good book to read. I’m the one wandering aimlessly, tapping my fingers on my purse strap and wondering if it began with a W or an M. I try the computer inventory, looking up topics, possible author names and what I think the title might have been, but it doesn’t usually help me.
I know it happens to everyone. Some people lose car keys, reading glasses or forget birthdays, it’s all kind of the same thing. At the time you are sure you can remember. You don’t need to make a note, it’s just one little thing, your brain can store one small additional fact. Right? However, just like all those times you skipped making a grocery list cause you only needed to pick up a few things… You forget what all those things were once you’re actually standing there wheeling your cart down the aisles.
This wouldn’t be so bad, lots of people have other things to think about and the name of a writer can escape your thoughts. But, I am a writer. Doesn’t it seem I should diligently remember another writer, especially one I thought well of?
This lack of memory is my secret shame, I try to hide it or pretend it’s just a temporary thing. I blame it on having too much else on my mind, too many things on the go and so on. Still, I know that’s just a bluff. I’ve never been good at remembering names. Faces are a different thing. If I met each writer as I read her or his book, I’d remember their names, I’m sure of it. I like to look at the author’s picture when it’s included in a book. Sometimes seeing the picture again does click and I do remember that I read something by that person before.
BookCrossing has been a help. I keep track of the books I really liked (we can even rate them) and if I stare at the author’s name long enough on screen the odd name does sink past the layers of dumbness and I do manage to have flashes of light bulbs while cruising through the racks.
My favourite haunting places for good books are the second-hand stores and GoodWills. You can’t get those oldies in your local bookstore, once they go out of print they go out of stock. It’s only in the second-hand places: thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales, that you discover those secret stashes of books. Plus, you know someone else thought enough of it to buy it before you.
One thing about shopping at the second-hand bookstores is that you can never go back and expect your same book to be there again. If you thought it was good, someone else will have been there and thought the same. Likely, they have a better memory, or kept all those handy notes more organized in their purse or wallet. It’s not hopeless however. Sometimes by pure accident or Irish luck I come across the best treasures. Once in awhile I even bring home a book I forgot I wanted a year or three ago. Priceless treasures, better than chocolate!
Without BookCrossing I’d have to resort to more crumpled, dog eared pieces of paper in my purse. You know what happens to bits of notes you keep in your purse. It’s a rough life. They get squished down to the bottom layers where the forgotten candies and toothpicks roam. Eventually you are forced to clean out your purse and you find them again. “Oh! I wish I had known that when I was shopping last week..” By then it’s far too late of course.
Another good thing about using BookCrossing is being able to see how many other people have read that book and what they wrote in their journals. I can look up an author name and see what else they have in print and how many copies were registered on BookCrossing. It is a great book popularity contest around the whole world, the Miss Universe of books.
The funny thing is, in the back of my mind I am trying to live up to the image of myself as a book connoisseur. Something more than the standard book consumer. I can become just a touch obsessed with a book’s author. If I liked the book I can’t read just one and leave it at that. No, finding the others in the series, or by that writer, becomes a quest. Until, of course, I forget the author’s name, again.