Top Ten Sensory Reading Memories

I rarely associate books and sensory experiences – that’s usually more music for me – but I do have a handful of books with strong ties to a time or image or other experience.

1. Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller – I read this in my hotel room at the beach while everyone else was out swimming. I’d gotten really sunburned and I needed a chaos/noise break from my kids. I’ll forever associate this book with the peace of that afternoon.

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – It’s hard to tell if I think of Christmas when I think of this book because I read it in December or because of the really awesome Christmas-tree-throwing scene.

3. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin – This is an odd one for me. It actually only has a sensory memory because it got tied up with a song from a particular band. A line from the song says, “Hammer down the walls, it’s only broken glass.” The songwriter is known for referencing classic books and movies, and I could have sworn he was referencing a scene from this book. Only when I went back and reread years later, the scene I’d “remembered” didn’t even exist.

4. Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton – This one doesn’t conjure up a particular feeling, but instead a longing for fish-and-chips wrapped in paper as described in the novel. I’ve never actually eaten this, but the sensory description was so well-written that I will always crave the experience. Perhaps if I ever get over to Britain…

5. The Painted Veil by William Somerset Maugham – This is another one of those false associations. I must have had a dream about the end of this book, and the dream-ending completely obscured the read ending. I only figured it out years later, and for whatever reason, I still feel the emotions that came with the dream-ending (and see all the scenery in that particular version) whenever I think of this one.

6. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan – I listened to this one on audio and whenever I think of it, I remember walk after walk after walk in the late summer evenings on the wiggly sidewalk near our home.

7. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy – This is the book that converted me to audiobooks, read by Alan Rickman. What I remember most is that I took five weeks to read it, while doing C25K around my living room, and how I pretty much gave up at the end of week five because my audiobook had run out. Ha!

8. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – Hot summer afternoons, road trips to the Frio River, obsessively marking in the margins for the only time in my life. I could not put the book down. I most particularly associate it with car rides, as it’s the only time I could ever read a book in the car without getting sick.

9. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – It’s probably very silly, but this book reminds me (obviously enough) of the months I spent following the book’s process, and all the little discoveries I made about myself during that fall. Plus, baby Gavroche!!

10. Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – One night shortly after reading this, I had a dream that mixed this book, Germinal by Emile Zola, and the song Sleepyhead by Passion Pit. Since that time, I can’t see the cover/title of WGWG or think of the book without Sleepyhead automatically popping into my head. The two are inextricably linked. Ha!


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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1 Response to Top Ten Sensory Reading Memories

  1. These memories were so cute! The one about We is so funny! I did something similar with a book, where I would’ve sworn a specific scene happens and then I reread it and apparently it doesn’t? So I just imagined a whole scene lol

    Liked by 1 person

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