“You Must Remember This …”   Leave a comment


Remember by Lisa Genova is about all those little, and sometimes big, things we often can’t recall – and why.

She is the bestselling author of Still Alice, an account of a woman diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Genova is a neuroscientist whose grandmother was the novel’s inspiration.

In Remember, Genova has written an engaging nonfiction work about memory lapses and triggers for recall that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. She uses personal experience and humor to describe easily-relatable experiences.

The contents are divided into three sections: How We Remember; Why We Forget; and Improve or Impair. With few exceptions, she notes, most people do not have the capability to remember everything; she also gives an example of a man unable to maintain any memories. Most of us fall in the middle.

Stress, sleep deprivation, and emotions are among the contributors to faulty recollections. Apparently, there is also a tendency to embellish or discard elements either consciously or not.

Tip of the Tongue (TOT) situations are addressed. We might be able to remember details related to the main point (such as a movie title). Such details are often distractions keeping us from finding exactly what we’re seeking (an actor’s name).

When describing the book’s premise to a friend, I actually forgot some of the points I found most fascinating. One thing Genova does offer is reassurance that not all forgetfulness is an indication of Alzheimer’s. Yes, age does lead to a decrease in recall, but only because life creates a lot of memories.

Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting

Four-and-a-half Bookmarks

Harmony Books, 2021

256 pages, including suggested readings

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