Memory retention: “The ability to forget is a token of true greatness”

Wow! Just finished my twenty-fifth attention-grabbing and hugely entertaining John Grisham book ‘The Litigators’ (in which once again having thought I’d figured out the complex plotting I was wrong).

So what about the previous twenty-four equally absorbing page-turners? How many of the tales and characters in a long list stretching back to 1989 can I recall?

The answer is I am having difficulty recalling the story line of just one of them. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed what I read, I would be hard-pressed to describe too much about any of one them; they all kind of run together.


Given that feasting on a John Grisham novel has become an annual Christmas tradition since first heading eastwards in the late 1980s, what’s with the low memory retention rate? Should I be concerned?

I am quite sure if someone asks me about ‘The Litigators’ a year or two from now, I won’t remember all but the broadest facets of the tale, but still it was a pleasure to devour. In fact, it is wonderful to be reading, and finishing, “a book” again, to close out what has been a tumultuous 2012.

I believe such, for the most part fictional, books are not designed for recall, unlike education-related reference, or instruction handbooks. Each book has its own moral and morsel of insight feeding my brain with an awareness of humanity and the world we live in which I previously may not have had. Certainly not mindless entertainment, I have learned something. I don’t have to remember the whole story.

I’m already absorbed in my twenty-sixth John Grisham page-turner, the riveting ‘Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer’!


A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness.

– Elbert Hubbard ( American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher who was aboard the torpedoed RMS Lusitania which sank 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland on May 7th 1915)

Read books by John Grisham:

  1. A Time to Kill (1989)
  2. The Firm (1991)
  3. The Pelican Brief (1992)
  4. The Client (1993)
  5. The Chamber (1994)
  6. The Rainmaker (1995)
  7. The Runaway Jury (1996)
  8. The Partner (1997)
  9. The Street Lawyer (1998)
  10. The Testament (1999)
  11. The Brethren (2000)
  12. A Painted House (2001)
  13. Skipping Christmas (2001)
  14. The Summons (2002)
  15. The King of Torts (2003)
  16. Bleachers (2003)
  17. The Last Juror (2004)
  18. The Broker (2005)
  19. The Innocent Man (2006)
  20. Playing for Pizza (2007)
  21. The Appeal (2008)
  22. The Associate (2009)
  23. Ford County
  24. The Confession (2010)
  25. The Litigators (2011)

So did you learn something? Have a comment?

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