I have a strange habit of trying to memorize books as I read them.
This stems from being a child with bad vision under the constant belief that I would go blind. The blindness was never really a solid threat, but with the amount of optometrist appointments I went to and the promise of eye surgery hanging over my head, I had kind of a skewed perception on the matter.
Also, I had to wear an eyepatch when I was a kid. Any kid who wears an eyepatch is going to develop some sort of neuroses. This is documented scientific fact.
And so, believing that someday I would go blind, I took it upon myself to memorize as many delicious, beautiful books as possible. This way, once I couldn’t read any more (I never really considered braille or books on tape) I would be able to tell myself my favorite stories, again and again, exactly how they had been. I’ve continued this habit my entire life. It does not mean I have improved my ability to remember anything. It just means I have a lot of useless sentences plowing around my brain.
This habit isn’t distracting when I read young adult fantasy novels or cheesy mystery stories. I don’t really notice it when I read fluffy sentimental fiction or stuffy memoirs. This week, however, I’m reading Crime and Punishment, and with the sheer amount of words Dostoyevsky uses, my mind has become so cluttered with translated Russian that I can no longer remember my license plate number, my mother’s maiden name, or any math whatsoever. Pretty soon when somebody asks me to pass the salt I’ll scream awkwardly, “ON AN EXCEPTIONALLY HOT EVENING EARLY IN JULY A YOUNG MAN CAME OUT OF THE GARRET IN WHICH HE LODGED IN S. PLACE AND WALKED SLOWLY, AS THOUGH IN HESITATION, TOWARDS K. BRIDGE.”
Either that, or I’ll just froth at the mouth a bit.
It’s good to read classic literature again, but I won’t cry when I go back to sassy murder mysteries.