What happens when you read a book and then just forget it after some time?
This nytimes essay says you don’t need to worry. Reading a book develops pathways in our brain which are there to stay. You are a sum product of all the books you have read even if you don’t remember the contents. An excerpt from this essay:
To help answer this question I called Maryanne Wolf, a professor of child development at Tufts University and the author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.”
I described my “Perjury” problem — I was interested in the subject and engrossed in the book for days, but now remember nothing about it — and asked her if reading it had ultimately had any effect on me.
“I totally believe that you are a different person for having read that book,” Wolf replied. “I say that as a neuroscientist and an old literature major.”
She went on to describe how reading creates pathways in the brain, strengthening different mental processes. Then she talked about content.
“There is a difference,” she said, “between immediate recall of facts and an ability to recall a gestalt of knowledge. We can’t retrieve the specifics, but to adapt a phrase of William James’s, there is a wraith of memory.
The information you get from a book is stored in networks. We have an extraordinary capacity for storage, and much more is there than you realize. It is in some way working on you even though you aren’t thinking about it.”
Did this mean that it hadn’t been a waste of time to read all those books, even if I seemingly couldn’t remember what was in them?
“It’s there,” Wolf said. “You are the sum of it all.”