Ian Crouch ponders over the fact that we — him, and probably you, and certainly me, and most other people — forget the details of the books we read.
As Ian mentions, whenever I’ve taken the time to read something twice, my retention drastically improves. Even better (at least in the case of something really good), I’m able to appreciate and absorb the more intricate and important things — the deeper meanings and artistry.
However, I don’t think that remembering every, or even most, details is so important. It’s the gist and meaning that stick with you. I read Henry James’ The Wings of the Dove in an undergrad seminar, and most of the details of the book escape me. However, James’ portrayal and exploration of love never spoken, betrayal that was but never was, subtle meanings and looks and body language — those are very clear and important to me, even if only as deep-seated intuition.
And what’s wrong with simply enjoying something in the moment? That’s more than enough.