Buying and Forgetting

I have a great way to recommend and read books. It’s called buying and forgetting. It works best if you truly forget what the book is about and start reading it only knowing that it was something you wanted to read in the past.

Today it was Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven. I opened the kindle to read something, realized I had finished everything else on my list and then had to find something new.

I think I had flipped through a few Twitter threads back when Ursula died in January, not knowing anything about her work but watching lots of folks make recommendations on their favorite books. I’m not even sure if I read a synopsis or anything back when I decided this was a good place to start. It may have been a case of purely picking the most notable thing from her catalog.

This works best when you impulse buy books you want to read. That way you can flip to the books you don’t have downloaded yet and pick one at random (or, let’s be honest, based on the cover) and start it immediately.

It’s fascinating to know you had an opinion on something previously - “I definitely thought I would like this book” - and you’re trying to figure out what was the hook that got you interested in the first place.

This case was particularly weird because there’s no grand intro to all of the plot points like you can be subjected to sometimes. Here’s the main character, here’s a list of all their features, here’s why this day is going to be interesting.

Instead, I spent the first couple pages really confused as to why I would want to read this book and wondering where things were going. But as the plot started to be revealed and I got more interested in what was happening, it was this pleasant surprise that someone who knows my taste perfectly picked this book out for me, but without spoiling the plot upfront. I did, of course.

There is a willingness to not peek that helps to maintain the fun. Don’t read about the plot on the internet, just trust that you thought it sounded fun before.

I wonder if this sort of situation can be extended to other mediums. Here’s a game I think you’ll really enjoy playing, but you don’t have to read a bunch of reviews on the internet to find it.

And, because I’ve been rewatching Arrested Development episodes at night, I hope I can find a way to recreate the experience it without Forget-me-nows.